The shemagh is a traditional middle eastern headwear scarf that is usually made from cotton. However, wool blends are very popular as well. Most of the shemaghs purchased at army navy stores, like Omahas Surplus, are made of cotton and come in a variety of colors. You can buy these scarves here at Omahas and they usually feature 2 colors that can serve to have meaning as well as provide a certain amount of camouflage.
The shemagh has also become quite the fashion accessory, especially among hipsters and college students. While some may also see it as popular headdress among terrorists, our soldiers have adopted them since Vietnam because of the practicality in the field of battle. The loose woven cotton provides superb airflow and ventilation while at the same time keeping out the sand and uv rays from the sun.
The vibrant color schemes and designs that are woven into the shemagh scarves are often associated with different tribal origins from the middle east. For example, red/white pattern is most often associated with Jordanians. Solid white is traditionally Saudi.