general info WHAT ARE EMIRATI WOMEN WEARING?
What Are Emirati Women Wearing?
Updated on 04 December 2018

By: Salamah Ghudayer

These Emirati women are swathed head to toe in billowing, thin layers, but what are all of these pieces and why do they do it? The actual act of covering the hair and curves of the body is religious. How we do so, and with what is cultural, even down to the most popular color black for the outer garments. The Emirates has no law requiring women to wear religious attire, so what you see is a visual declaration of religious, national or personal identity depending on the woman. Within one Emirati family you will find ladies covering to different extents. One may be covering her hair completely, another showing half of her head, while one may cover everything including her face or another shows just her eyes. The garments she chooses from are:

The Abaya: The cloak which is often black or in natural colors is called an Abaya. It is an outer garment worn outside the home over traditional or modern clothing. They are light, natural fabric blends for the climate. 

The Shaila: The long, rectangular scarf is called a Shaila. It is wrapped in different ways around the head and covers her head and neck, yet shows her face.

The Gushwa: If she prefers to keep her face under her clothing, she can use one end of her Shaila, or a separate garment of similar fabric which hangs from the top of her head down; this is called Gushwa. The Burqa: What can be quite striking and yet is a cultural tradition is the Burqa found in the Gulf including the Emirates. Made of shiny brass colored fabric and stiff canvas, the discernable arched face covering is for the most traditional women. The Burqa is put on under the outermost layer she is wearing so as to cover the modest cords tying it in place. The structure provides a comfortable space between the Gushwa and the nose, mouth or perspiring face in the heat. It covers the eyebrows and upper lip and is connected on both sides as well as along the line of the nose. Aside from modesty, and protecting her image, it marks her as a woman proud to maintain her heritage. They are actually disposable and each are only worn for a few days.

The Niqab: Some ladies, who cover their face but drive or often ladies from neighbouring nations will wear Niqab. This is a garment tied to the head either along the forehead or over the ridge of her nose and tied at the back. The one tied at the forehead has a top layer which flips back over the head exposing an opening for just the eyes. Though popular in social media posts or for an ‘Arabian nights’ themed outfit, the niqab in this region is not bedazzled but very modest and simple. 

The Concept of Hijab: The total outfit and shielding of a Muslim woman’s body from hair to feet with any articles of clothing from any culture, providing modesty and immediately identifies her as a Muslima is the physical aspect of Hijab. The other part is actually more important; the mannerism, self respect & dignity in her speech and actions which form Hijab as well as it is in her soul. Women who wear the clothing of hijab are called Mutahajiba.

There are women who dress in national attire who are not mutahajiba and there are Muslim women who do not dress in any religious attire except for her prayers. Hijab in any of its forms can stir the emotions of many Muslims and scholars as well as non-Muslims. Yet it could be one of the most significant topics, in the greyest of areas in religious text. In the Quran and Hadith, we are asked to distinguish ourselves as Muslim women, cover the curves of our body from the top down to our hands and ankles, our clothing not be transparent, our clothing not make noise (such as with ornaments that make noise), and to preserve our beauty in public. As Muslim women, we must take those texts, consider the environmental climate, what merchandise is available and dress accordingly to our own educated decision, but it is just that her decision. The black color is very popular in the hot climate of the gulf, so as to maintain the non-transparent demand of Hijab. Like the tinting on your car windows, a thin, natural black layer can help cover even the lightest color of clothing worn underneath to not be see-through in the sun. Though black is not at all a must or even mentioned in the religion, it has added to the cultural identity of the garment.

All of this clothing is tailor made. The role of the tailor, is to provide a vast array of designs and decoration to meet the varied tastes and sensibilities of all of his clientele. Ladies usually prefer one or two tailor shops to develop a loyal relationship for good quality and a fair price as a repeat client. Time is spent pondering the sample designs or books of embroidery, to pick something that suits her style. New designs become popular with some and rejected by others. Sizes are taken from previously owned pieces with instruction to add a centimetre, reduce or maintain the same.

We are a very private society, leaving each to their own opinion and way of dressing. It is this individuality that explains the differences in the ladies you see in public covered to varying degrees. For the visitor, the ladies dressed in black may all look the same, but sit and observe and you will end up seeing the uniqueness of each, but no matter what, “you can never judge a book by its cover.”

With thanks to Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Call 04-3536666 or visit www.cultures.aewww.cultures.ae

Share this page!
COMMENTS
MORE ON general info

In its bid to boost Dubai Government’s smart city initiative and people happiness, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has fitted the entire Dubai taxi fleet, comprising of 10,684 taxis, with surveillance cameras. These cameras in all RTA

In the latest discovery, archaeologists have found a gemstone which is believed to be the world’s oldest natural pearl. The discovery was made on Marawah Island, which lies just off the coast of Mirfa town, about 170 km west of Abu Dhabi

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Southern Iran in thge afternoon of Monday 21 October at 2.58pm (UAE time) and the impact extended to the UAE as some of the residents in Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah felt the tremors. The National Centre of Meteor

It was only in March this year when we first heard of the launch of Dubai Stars, and just ver 6 months later the new attraction it is now open to the public. On Sunday, 20 October, Emaar officially announced the opening of ’The Dubai Stars’. Similar

All seven emirates across the UAE celebrated the one year countdown to Expo 2020 with spectacular events offering a little taste of what is to come at the world’s greatest show to be held for six months from October, 2020 through to April, 2021.

UAE is all set to celebrate the one year countdown to the much awaited Expo 2020 on Sunday, 20 October. Celebratory events across all seven Emirates include live performances from global and regional celebrities, family and kids entertainment options

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced that three new bridges leading to the entry and exit points of The Dubai Mall new Zabeel multi-storey car park will open on Tuesday, 29 October. One bridge will linking the new Zabeel car park with

National Center Of Meteorology (NCM) has forecasted rain over next five days all across the UAE. Residents can expect rain showers along with extensive cloud cover, humidity, strong winds and morning fog daily throughout this week until Friday.

The Middle East Youth Expo 2019 Young Leader of the Year Awards, recognising talented young minds that are working towards the future of Planet Earth, is now accepting entries. MEYE 2019 Young Leader of the Year Awards in collaboration with One

Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) is back for a third year and kicks off this weekend for 30 days of activity and exercises to make Dubai the most active city in the world. There is a lot going on and lots of things for everyone to get involved with and

First Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  ... Next Last 
FEATURED
A 'must do' when in Dubai.
The Dubai Fountain was designed by California-based WET, the creators of the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, and is 275 metres long with five circles and two central arcs. Over
Unveiled in February 2010, the Burj Khalifa stands 828 metres high - 320 metres taller than Taipei 101 which held the record since 2004. The Burj Khalifa currently holds seven records, including the highest occupied
Since its opening in December 1999, the Burj Al Arab has been one of the most photographed structures in the world. Sometimes referred to as "the world's most luxurious hotel
The UAE is surrounded by two bodies of water, both offering different diving experiences. Dubai is good for shipwrecks, which are home to Barracuda, Snappers and Jacks, with common
Take a magic carpet ride across rolling red sand dunes, with an amazing bird's eye view of the untouched desert below.
HAPPENINGS
Ring in a new week with a fresh list of fun activities. This week, get the kids out of the house and send them for exciting STEAMania at a this children’s science museum, get mesmerised by an amazing magic show, have some fun at the latest
Top things to do in Dubailand, Motor City, Sport City and Green Community
Top things to do in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Emirates Living, Jebel Ali, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
Top things to do in Al Barsha, Barsha Heights and Al Quoz
Top things to do in Downtown Dubai, DIFC, Business Bay, Al Meydan and Dubai Design District
Top things to do in Jumeirah 1,2,3, Beach Road, Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim, Al Sufouh, Palm Jumeirah
Top things to do in Sheikh Zayed Road, 2nd of December Street and Al Satwa
Top things to do in Bur Dubai, Karama, Al Mankhool, Al Jaddaf and Oud Metha
Top things to do in Deira, Garhoud and Al Muteena.
Dubai stands in line with cities like Paris, Milan, London and New York, so you can never be bored of this city. There are a million of things to see, try, and taste!
And you won't be disappointed.
Your little ones will thank you.
INSTAGRAM
FOLLOW
Discover Dubai
Stay Connected - Drop us your email.