Colored abayas

A question I sometimes hear asked by expats who live here is why men in the Gulf wear white (kanduras/dishdash), while women wear black (abayas). It's an honest question, but the truth is that kanduras aren't always white, and abayas aren't always black.

In the UAE, kanduras, especially in the winter months, can be cream, beige, dark brown, dark blue (my favorite), or grey.


It's true that abayas are usually black, but you often see subtle (or not-so-subtle) embroidered or sparkly, jewel-studded patterns on the sleeves, neckline, hemline, or even solid areas of the abaya.


More recently, however, I've started to notice Emiratis wearing abayas that are not all black. Whether this has been the case for years and I'm only now starting to notice it, or whether it is a new trend, I'm not certain. But I have seen abayas with conservative, blockish patterns of brown, purple, cream, and silver fabric in addition to black.

The fact that I'm having a hard time finding examples of the colored abayas I am seeing these days makes me think that this is a fairly new trend for the UAE. Here is one example that isn't exactly right, but close:

The colored abayas I am talking about have color as part of the abaya itself, not just on the hems and sleeves.

Anyway, no, kanduras are not always white; and yes, abayas are usually black, but sometimes they have color on them, too.

May 16th, outsourced

Video time capsule of Syria, summer 2010