When you arrive in the United Arab Emirates, you immediately notice that many people here wear clothes that are not typical for our latitudes. Women mostly wear long black dresses, men in white. Plus hats, capes, shawls, stoles…
I will tell you about the features of women’s closet in a later post, and today I propose to talk about the traditional UAE men’s clothing and What do Arab men wear. And of course, a few secrets how to distinguish the local from the newcomers. So that you know for sure if the sheikh is in front of you or not 🙂
The name of the traditional Arabian men’s dress made of natural fabrics is kandoora. The second variant of the name is dishdasha. How did this garment appear in men’s closet? Arab tribes occupied the territory with an extremely hot climate. The constant sun, temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees, desert winds, frequent sandstorms. It is very important that clothing protected against all these weather peripetias. A heel-length dress with long arms perfectly coped with this.
Nowadays, kandura is also not just a tribute to tradition, but a really comfortable variant of clothing, which is suitable for local climatic conditions. As a rule, kandoora is white in color. This is dictated by the weather conditions, since white is not as warm, and by religion, as this color is on the list of the most preferred in Islam. Sometimes, however, other shades, such as beige and blue, can also be found. More often the colored version of kandoora is worn in the cooler seasons.
The image of Arab men is inextricably linked with the scarf on his head. This is the gutra and its wearing is also historically linked to the Bedouin way of life. The long cloth that covered the head, neck and shoulders well protected from the scorching sun and sand. By the way, under the gutra is also worn a special white cap called gafia.
Often seen on the gutra is a dark woven ring, igal. In the past, Bedouins used to bind the legs of their camels with it during the night, and also used it as a whip. To make sure the rope was not lost and was always at hand, they tied it around their heads. Now igal is more of a tribute to tradition and a decorative part of headwear. However, such a rope also helps to keep the gutra on one’s head so that it won’t be blown away.
During official receptions and celebrations one sees Arab men wearing a long cloak over the kandoora. This bisht is a traditional Muslim outerwear. The edge of the cape may be embroidered with gold or silver threads, ending with laces with tassels. With such embroidery, of course, the bisht is not cheap.
How to spot a true Emirati
It happens that the men of other cultures, dressed in Emirati clothing, trying to pass themselves off as locals. It’s even trivial, even to “divorce” girls who dream of marrying a sheikh 🙂 Or to cash in on gullible businessmen and tourists. Travelers, too, don’t mind trying on a kandoora to feel like a local and take beautiful pictures. In addition, not only local Arabs live in the Emirates, but also newcomers, for example from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, and so on.
How can you tell a local (as they call those who have UAE citizenship) from other Arab men by his clothes? I am sharing a few tips:
- Not everyone wears a gutra. For example, people from Oman use a “pill” as a headdress. The Emirati, on the other hand, mostly wear white or kandoora colored gutra. And the natives of Saudi Arabia prefer the version with a red print.
- Pay attention to style. Emiratis tend to wear kandoora without a collar, the neckline is mostly round “under the neck”, and the sleeves are simple without cuffs or cufflinks.
- On the chest of the kandura a locale will have something like a braid or a small tie in the tone of the piece. It is a kerkusha or tarbusha. It is often impregnated with oriental perfume oils. However, the kerkusha may not always be, as this element can be detached.
- A lokal’s kandura will be sized, neat and ironed. They keep a close eye on it and make everything fit. While tourists try on variants of Arabian clothing that don’t always fit.
- The Emirati will often have sandals on their feet. I’ve even heard the joke that if you see an Arab-looking man wearing a kandora and shoes, it’s probably someone from out of town.