UAE, as one of the most rapidly developing country in the world, exhibits an amazingly perfect blend of traditionalism and modernism. All UAE nationals continue to wear their traditional costume which indeed is a symbol of national pride and identity.
The men of the Arabian Peninsula wear the immaculate pressed gleaming white (sometimes brown or gray) ankle length robes called dishdasha. Local men wear a small skull cap gafia, covered by the white or sometimes red-checkered head cloth gutra and held in place by the twisted black coil agal. Only rarely will a national appear in western dress within the Emirates. For important occasions and men of standing, the white dishdasha is covered by a flowing black cloak bisht edged with gold braid.
Emirati women usually wear trousers sirwal fitted tightly at the ankles. Over the sirwal is worn the jillabeeya, a floor length dress which is often decorated in embroidery or beautiful beadwork and covered by a black cloak abaya. Some women cover their face with a black cloth nikab that only reveals the eyes and others, mostly older women, wear a canvas mask called a burqa which covers eyebrows, nose and mouth. Almost all women cover their hair with a shaila or hejjab as per the principles of Islam.
With the influence of international fashion on the traditional wear of women, the abayah and the shaila are also undergoing transition- abayahs are now available in chic cuts and designs, patterns and beadworks, made out of expensive, soft flowing material like chiffon. Similarly, the shailas with exquisite designs are now worn both as a sign of elite fashion as well as a hejjab. The Arab women are also very fond of henna, a herbal powder which when applied on hands and feet leaves a rich reddish-brown colour.