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Traditional Clothing in UAE

Credit: Flickr / Oman Muscat / CC BY 2.0

There is always some ambiguity whenever the topic of traditional clothing in the United Arab Emirates crops up. Other than the followers of Islam, not many are aware of the Arabic style of clothing typical to Muslim culture. With the exception of Dubai, the remaining Emirates in the UAE are conservative with regard to their style of dressing, favouring 'modesty' and, to a certain extent strictly adopting what is prescribed in Islamic texts.

Dubai attracts many outsiders including many tourists and expatriates, thus the dress code is more lenient. Although western-style clothing such as t-shirts, long skirts and trousers are permitted, women are expected and encouraged to keep their skin covered. To sum it up, anything and everything goes as long as you remember that you are in a progressive yet Islamic Emirate.

Islamic / Traditional Clothing are styled according to what is to be worn during the day, at night and for religious occasions. The clothes are designed to adapt to the local hot weather and the religious beliefs of the region. Following is a list of the traditional clothing worn by men and women in the UAE:

Abaya: The Abaya is a long elegant cloak worn by women in the UAE and is their national dress. Traditionally black in colour, it covers the whole body except the face, feet and hands. Some women prefer to team it up with the niqāb and Gafaaz to cover up the face and hands as well.

Ghutrah: A typical headscarf worn by men, the ghutrah is also known by the name of keffiyeh/kufiya, or shemagh in other Arabic countries. Typically made from a square cloth of cotton in chequered patterns, it is draped over the head in various styles. In dry climates, these scarves provide protection from blowing dust and harsh rays of the sun.

Agal: An Agal, also called iqal, egal or igal is a black band secured tightly around the ghutrah to keep it in place. Usually in black in colour, the Agal is losing its prominence these days with young men draping the guthrah in different ways.

Agal. Credit: PD Photo

Burqa: The Burqa or burkha, burka, burqua is an outer piece of clothing used to cover a woman’s body to prevent exposure of skin in public. The Burqa is removed when the woman returns home and/or in the sole company of her family members. It is worn over daily attire and is more common among older generations of Arab women.

Kandura: Also known as thawb, thobe, or dishdasha, the Kandura is an ankle-length, loose-fitting robe for men, usually white in colour. In winter, the Kandura is available in a splash of darker shades. The length of the robe is correlated with the status of the person with the wealthy and royal seen in long robes. Shorter lengths symbolize modesty and are worn by common Arabs.

Gishwa: UAE women traditionally wear a Gishwa, which is a thin veil covering the face making them unrecognizable for the purposes of preserving modesty. However, it is fine enough for the wearer to see through.

Ghafiyah: The Ghafiyah is a look-alike of a Muslim prayer hat worn below the ghutrah headscarf by Arabic men. They are typically intricately embroidered and not visible to the naked eye as it is covered by the Ghutrah.


Meher ali
Hi good day

I just need information about uae kandura y uae kandora has long rope on the front their any reason.


Hi Meher

I don't think there is any reason that for long length. it is just a style

jesus christ
hi i was wondering why they were cloaks ?
Candy Lee
Very good for your information!
Iesha Abboud
Nice article. Wearing long robes are part of middle eastern culture, one of the main reasons of which is because to protect the body from sandstorm. I would say in Dubai today many are after ethnic Arabic clothing and as a person living in Deira, I know that most of the malls today like Deira City Centre are promoting this culture, even for kids which is, in a way, a noble effort to preserve our culture in a multi-cultural setup.
Hallo! How I can buy(order)quality Kandura for my Son and me like present for Eid? Thanks for answers. Senad Austria(EU)
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Emma William
Usually tourists do not live in UAE do not wear the national dresses. They mostly wear polo shirts, jeans pants, cotton pants, shorts and jogger pants and most of the times prefer online shopping. There are also many shopping guides available on internet from where can information related to best shopping places.
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Shaharyar khan
Hello. I was on a tour in uae, i was told that i can not wear kandura and Ghutrah, and especially The Igal, please guide me, if i go to uae in near future, can i wear these? And is their any specific type of arabic dress that i cant wear?
@Shaharyar, I don't think you will have a restriction wearing Arabic dress of any kind.
What do men wear underneath there robes during the long hot weather
Abdulhakim Al-Amin
please send me a site that sales men's Islamic headscarves. I would like to buy some, Thank you.
Hi, What it the difference between the all white Ghutrah and the colored ones e.g red and white
I really want to be a half Muslim to look pretty
Really helpful and helped me with my project thank you!!
Every culture has features and peculiarities, familiar only to the people of this nation. And it’s very interesting to learn about traditional clothing from natives. That’s why if you have something to say about your national costume, please, do it using comments. Tell us things which you know about your country’s cultural heritage. Other people will discover something new for them thanks to you.
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
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I am an American currently in Abu Dhabi for a few weeks and I have just purchased a Kandura and several different Ghutrah's. I asked a few of the Abu Dhabi natives that were walking around the mall and they said that it wouldn't be offensive to them if I made these purchases.
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Such a nice blog for traditional wear and Menswear on eid. Thanks for sharing.
Shared nice information thanks!
Great article!! Thank you for giving such detailed information about UAE clothing. I usually shop at Ounass where I get the best discounts using coupons.
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WOW! these traditional clothes are so beautiful and so wonderful to wear. Some dresses can be worn during Eid this year.
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Such a great information. This is really very helpful for bloggers.
really good information. i love wearing my own burqa.
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