How Fashion effecting on the Culture of the Abayas in UAE

Nikhil Thawani
By Nikhil Thawani
on June 25, 2019

By Mariam M. Al Harmoodi

The Emirati Abayas is our national Dress, part of our culture and how fashion affected this culture. It's a piece of black fabric that most of the Muslims women wear over an outfit as a way to cover themselves. It is commonly worn in parts of the middle east, most particularly countries of the Arabian Gulf, and In the UAE, it is considered part of the formal dress code.

The abaya is worn with a sheila, a loose fabric covering the women’s hair, or a niqab. It is usually offered in Black, but in recent years, the abaya is available in many colours.

Do You Know How did the Abaya reach the Arabian Gulf? It is said that the Abaya, or the long Garment itself, came from Syria or Iraq about 80 years ago. By that time, women have used it as a source to keep their privacy and cover while moving between towns or cities.

Emirati Abaya is one of the national garments that express our culture and tradition in a modern way. But recently the abaya has taken a different route than being used as a form of a cover-up, nowadays it is seen as a statement piece with many brands locally and internationally competing with the latest trends and cuts attracting many costumers globally, including non-Muslims, to make the abaya part of their style.

The abaya went through many changes over the years to represent the women’s identity at that time. In the ’70s, the abaya was short and like a shawl covering the top part of the women body. The evolution of the abaya into the fashion world began in the ’90s after the westerns perceived the abaya to be mysterious and they had many opinions over the Arab women. In the early ’90s, the abaya’s came in different cuts, the most notable cuts were the “Butterfly” and the “Bracelet”. The abayas were black with minimal embroidery in black as well.

In the 2000s, designers decided to stand out by creating abayas with different fabrics and integrated colourful fabrics and designs into the black abaya in a minimal way without taking the simplicity of the abaya away. The abaya has been through many phases from being a simple large shawl in the 70s to a colourful minimal abaya in the late 90s.  The abaya is no longer restricted to the Middle Eastern and Khaleeji societies, but it is now recognized worldwide among many westerns, especially influencers that you can see including the modern abaya in their style.

Many international designers such as Dolce and Gabbana has been influenced by Abaya and created various looks to make women feel unique. The abaya has also influenced international designers’ choices in choosing long cardigans and coats to be part of their collection. To conclude, the abaya is no longer a garment to covers the woman's body, it is a statement piece.

As you saw how women are integrating the abaya into their lifestyle and styling it to suit their needs and to be efficient, the Abaya can soon enter the sports world, for example, it can be a loose jumpsuit that caters to the Muslim women who is into running.
Or it can have a detachable dress underneath to cater a socialites lifestyle by turning her day abaya into night one.


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Nikhil Thawani
Written by Nikhil Thawani
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