Traditional Wear in the UAE
The national dress in the UAE holds a lot of value and respect. It is a way for Emiratis to declare themselves and maintain their local identity.
The Emirati attire is almost common in all Arabic countries especially where the Bedouin tribe is predominant. The traditional dress is one way to dress ethnically and carry forward the ancestral traditions and proud legacy.
In Emirates veils and long sleeved robes are worn by both men and women. The most crucial advantage of the national dress is that it offers excellent protection from the blistering sun and heat. The climactic advantage of traditional attire is amazing. It adapts well to the local conditions barring the black abaya that indeed may capture a certain amount of heat because of its dark color.
The women wear a long Abaya-a black robe. It has a hijab, which is the head-scarf covering the neck and part of the head. Some have a niqab covering the mouth and nose leaving only the eyes exposed to the public. Many women like to pull their hijab over their faces to disguise themselves.
Though the abaya is completely black, the trend of colorful embroideries around the collar or on the sleeves is very popular. The younger generation of Emiratis tends to wear fitted abayas; which still hides all exposure of the physique.
Underneath the abaya women dress up fashionably. The passion for fashion is reinforced by the fact that Emirati women do buy their abaya’s from top brands such as Pierre Cardin, Dior and Channel.
Men wear dishdash or kandoora with the headscarf known as keffiyeh. The traditional keffiyah in UAE is white and it is held in place by the agal which is a type of rope. These days the younger Emiratis prefer red and white keffiyehs around their head and avoid the agal. The dishdash and keffiyehs are pricey and supplied by French, English or Italian couturiers it. All Emiratis aged 5 and above should wear this traditional clothing.
Emiratis also wear westernized clothing, but they do so only when they go out for clubs or parties. Most of them wear jeans and tight T-shirts. When travelling abroad both men and women usually switch over to European clothing.
The functional importance of traditional wear is its supreme affirmation of the local culture. For natives the traditional wear will distinguish them from the rising expat population.
The UAE society is based on religion and culture. The Emiratis are Muslims. In the UAE, wearing the traditional clothing signals the pride of Arabic culture as well as the religious identity.
Undoubtedly the traditional wear commands lots of respect. This is more discernible during religious festivals like the holy month of Ramadan when advisories are put out to follow dress code and be respectful to the local sensitivities.
People thrive for shopping in Dubai. It is not surprising that visitors to big malls are greeted with signboards, flyers and LCD screens reminding them to abide by the dress codes.