UAE National Dress - Male
The Kandura, or dishdash
, as it is referred to by the expats, is the long white cloak that male UAE Nationals wear. You will be amazed at how these remain crease free during the day - and they never look dirty. During the winter months, a whole realm of different colours come out, with browns and greys not uncommon. You may have seen pictures of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid walking in his iconic colours that are now his trademark. Only the traditional white is seen in summer because it reflects the suns rays. The men may change their Kandura a number of times in the day to go to different events (work, prayers, dinner etc) and so the men's clothes remain looking spick and span. A UAE National might have 50 or so Kandura's in his closet, and have up to 20 of those with the dry cleaners at any one time. A typical kandura would cost between 100 and 200 Dirhams to get tailored.
You may see the difference in those Kanduras that are worn by those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, you can sometimes have Kanduras with collars and cuffs, as opposed to the traditional types.
Gutrah The gutrah is the headscarf sported by the males. The most popular colours are the plain white, or the red and white checks. These checks are traditional to the Beduin, since the material used was tougher than the other and useful for protection against the elements in the desert. Nowadays, colours come in all types to match with the latest fashion. Also, the way that guthra is worn can define who someone is.
Egal The Egal is the black rope that fixes the headscarf in place. In days gone by, these would be used by Bedouin to tie their camel's feet down during the night while they were travelling. More of the younger nationals these days do not wear their egal and tie their guthra in a different way on their head. This is called hamdaniya or esama.
Ghafiyah Ever seen a Muslim prayer hat?, since it is usually under the guthra, you wont necessarily see it. It is usually white in colour with designs woven in.
Tarbosh Look closely at a male's kandura, and you will see a small string like contraption flowing from the neck. Some aliken it to a tie, and it is not always worn, though those who do wear it sometimes are inclined to play around with it.
Bisht Those in power can be seen wearing the bisht which is similar to a jacket that is worn on top of the kandura. Also, the bisht is worn during specical occasions such as Eid or weddings, for example, and also when visiting a Sheikh.
Faneela A faneela is like a vest worn under the Kandura.
Woozar A woozar is a a piece of white cloth which is tied around the waist under the Kandura. You'll never see one!
Na-aal These are essentially the sandals that are worn. You may find that shoes are actually worn instead. People say that those in Dubai wear shoes whereas those in Abu Dhabi are sandal wearers.
UAE National Dress - Female
The long flowing black gown worn by the UAE National Females is known as the Abaya. Somewhat misunderstood by the west, the abaya is an elegant piece of attire and used to cover the female clothing. Abayas range from the plain to those with intricate jewel designs. Accordingly, the prices range between 100 and 2500 Dirhams for each Abaya. Ladies will wear western dress, local dress or even indian type clothes, under their abayas. The main reason for wearing the Abaya is concern for modesty, with the most devoted covering their faces, as well as all viewable skin.
Shela The Shela is the piece of material used to loosely cover their head. This is sometimes black, especially those used to cover the face. And since the material is very light it is possible for the lady to see through the material. More recently, the shela is usually designer material, the most popular being Givenchy, Dior and the like and these are sometimes matched with their hangbags to produce a super cool outfit.
Burqa The Burqa actually represents two items: one, the covering of the head except for a slit for the eyes; the other item is the metallic coloured object used to cover part of the face, and these days is only used by the older generation - this is specific to the UAE.
Gishwa The Gishwa is the thin black veil that covers the face of the female. It is just dark enough for you not to be able to make out who is underneath, and just light enough for the female to see through. This makes it easier for the woman to travel around in freedom
Jelabia Mukhawara Although, in normal life, you will never see this, this item is the traditional outfit worn by the females, similar to a flowing gown in some great colours. Worn to weddings or special occasions.
Gafaaz Sometimes, you will see Ladies wearing gloves, to ensure that all of their skin is covered. Gafaaz is the literal translation of gloves in Arabic.