Birqa [berr-ca] or Niqab [nic-caarb] is the name given to the covering Arab women wear over their face in public. Depending on the country of residence the birqa takes on a different form.
In Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE the birqa is usually made from two layers of far softer material which can be used as wanted, enabling light or complete cover (see picture above, or think ninja turtle). All features are hidden completely and often extend down to the mid chest.
In Qatar the birqa is made from a hard mask like substance and shimmers gold when it catches the light. It is shaped like a large capital H which has been turned by 90 degrees and covers the forehead (horizontal), the nose (vertical) and the space between the nose and the mouth (horizontal). Large gaps are left for the eyes.
If a woman chooses to wear a burqa it will be something she will do at all times in public. During the 1970s when international travel was still in its infancy, women would have their passport photographs taken wearing the burqa; covered and without features. This practice was unsurprisingly banned several decades ago and as a consequence, you’ll find 'women only' booths at passport control. This is to allow women travellers to uncover their face, to women custom officers, in private.