The traditional dress of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a reflection of its rich cultural heritage and the fusion of tradition with contemporary fashion.
The roots of these traditional clothes can be traced back to the ancient Bedouin culture of the Arab Peninsula, which has left an indelible mark on the clothing styles of the region.
In this article, I’ll be showing you traditional dresses for men and traditional dresses for women in the UAE. We’ll be concluding with the choices of attire for children.
Modesty and Cultural Identity
UAE’s traditional dresses, such as the Abaya for women and Kandura for men, resonate with the teachings of Islam regarding modesty.
Modesty is an essential value in Islamic teachings, and the traditional clothing of the UAE reflects this principle.
The Abaya, a black robe worn by women, covers the entire body except for the hands, feet, and face, in alignment with the Islamic concept of modesty.
Respecting Cultural Norms
UAE’s adherence to Islamic values is also evident in the practice of wearing traditional clothing as a form of respect for cultural norms.
While Islam emphasizes modesty, it also encourages cultural preservation and identity.
The traditional dresses, with their unique designs and styles, are a way to honor both Islamic principles and the rich cultural heritage of the UAE.
Unity and Harmony
The UAE’s traditional dresses foster a sense of unity and harmony among its people, regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
By embracing these attires, individuals from various nationalities come together to honor shared values and traditions.
The unity achieved through these dresses also reflects the teachings of Islam, which emphasize brotherhood and unity among Muslims.
Educational and Religious Awareness
In recent years, the UAE has embarked on campaigns to raise awareness about Islamic values and traditions, including the importance of traditional clothing.
The “UAE Dress Code” movement, for instance, aims to educate both residents and visitors about appropriate dress by Islamic values.
This initiative reflects the UAE’s commitment to both cultural preservation and the propagation of Islamic teachings.
The Traditional Dresses for Men and Women in UAE
Although there is a general garment appreciated by both men and women in the UAE, we’ll be focused on the attire peculiar to different genders.
Traditional Dress for Men
The Kandura, also known as thawb, thobe, or dishdasha, is a key component of the traditional dress for men in the UAE.
This ankle-length, loose-fit jacket is often seen in shades of white, reflecting the sun’s rays and providing comfort in the warm climate.
Different lengths and styles of Kanduras carry cultural and status connotations, making it more than just a piece of clothing.
The Ghutrah, a traditional men’s headscarf, is an iconic accessory that serves both practical and cultural purposes.
Made from square cotton fabric with checked patterns, it shields against dust and the harsh desert sun.
The Ghutrah is often held in place by a black cord known as Agal, adding a distinctive touch to the overall attire.
The Shemagh is another variation of the traditional headscarf, similar to the Ghutrah but with white checks on a red background.
While it shares similarities with the Ghutrah, the Shemagh has its unique cultural significance and variations.
It’s part of the UAE’s traditional dress for men, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes.
The Agal, a circular black cord, is an essential accessory that holds the Ghutrah in place.
Worn around the head, the Agal varies in style and form, representing different social classes and occasions.
Its presence not only adds to the visual appeal but also carries cultural meaning within the traditional attire.
The Bisht is a distinctive black robe worn over the Kandura, often seen during special occasions, weddings, or by prestigious figures.
Its elegant and regal appearance adds a touch of grandeur to the traditional dress for men.
While resembling a layer, the Bisht symbolizes rank and is carefully crafted to showcase intricate details.
Traditional Dresses for Women
The Abaya, a timeless black robe, is a quintessential element of traditional dresses for women in the UAE. It covers the entire body except for the feet, hands, and ears.
Beyond its modesty, the Abaya has evolved in design, incorporating modern elements and decorations. It’s a symbol of cultural pride and individual expression.
The Hijab is a vital component of traditional dress for women, serving as a headscarf that covers the head, ears, and neck.
In the UAE, the Hijab style called Shalya is prevalent, characterized by a long rectangular scarf draped over the head and shoulders.
This piece not only reflects cultural norms but also personal style.
The Burqa in the UAE differs from its namesake in other regions. It is a facial covering worn by older Emirati women, concealing the entire face except for the eyes.
While it was originally meant to teach modesty, the Burqa now holds cultural and traditional significance, often worn during special occasions and ceremonies.
The Kaftan is a graceful and decorative garment that UAE women wear, especially at home or for familial gatherings.
Often adorned with intricate borders and designs, the Kaftan adds elegance and sophistication to the wearer’s attire.
It’s a fusion of tradition and style, embodying the essence of UAE’s traditional dresses for women.
Traditional Dresses for Children
For children, traditional dresses in the UAE are a blend of comfort and style.
Girls often wear kurta and shalwar for daily wear, while fancier dresses like lehengas with dupattas are reserved for special occasions and celebrations.
These dresses celebrate the cultural heritage of the UAE from an early age.
While upholding Islamic values, the UAE’s traditional dresses also exemplify the balance between tradition and modernity.
These attires have evolved to incorporate contemporary designs and materials, catering to the demands of modern society while still honoring cultural heritage and Islamic principles.
Read Also: Emirati Traditional Attire the Ghutra