Jackson Dons Women's Garb In Bahrain

Michael Jackson, center, wearing a traditional Arabic women's veil and all-covering gown called an abaya, holds the hand of one of his children, also veiled, as they walk toward his car on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, behind a Manama, Bahrain, shopping mall. Jackson is a reclusive resident of the Gulf island country since being cleared of child molestation charges. AP

Pop star Michael Jackson was spotted shopping in a Bahrain mall on Wednesday, hiding his face behind a veil and donning a black robe traditionally worn by women in the Gulf.

He was with three children, apparently his own, who also had their faces covered by dark scarves. An unidentified woman accompanied them.

The pop star, who seems to be settling in the Persian Gulf, was seen leaving Marina Mall in the Bahrain capital, holding a child by the hand. On the way out a back door, he shook hands with security guards.

The woman — also dressed in the black robe called an abaya, jeans and a scarf that partially covered her face — had the two other children. All three children were wrapped in black scarves and wore yellow shirts and sweatpants or khakis without robes.

Since his June acquittal on child molestation charges in California, Jackson has made several trips to Bahrain as a guest of Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of Bahrain's king. He reportedly was negotiating a position as a consultant with a Bahrain-based company that plans to set up theme parks and music academies in the Middle East.

On the mall outing, Jackson wore an abaya, pants, a white shirt and men's shoes. His head and face were wrapped in a black veil and he also wore black gloves.

The veil, abaya and gloves were of a style typically worn by conservative Bahraini women.

The woman asked photographers to respect their privacy and told them they were scaring the children before they left in a white car with darkened windows.

AAJ Holdings Ltd., owned by Ahmed Abu Bakr Janahi, said it wants to hire the 47-year-old Jackson to give advice on setting up entertainment businesses. He reportedly is building a home in Bahrain, an island nation in the Persian Gulf linked to Saudi Arabia by a bridge.

In November, Jackson stirred controversy in the United Arab Emirates by entering the ladies room in a shopping mall. His publicist said Jackson, who arrived in Dubai as the guest of a champion rally driver, did not understand the Arabic sign on the door and left the bathroom when he realized his mistake.

But local newspapers reported that the performer was applying makeup in the woman's toilets in a Dubai mall. Jackson's host, Mohammed bin Sulayem, dismissed the story as rumor.

By Hasan Jamali

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