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Al Mukhawar: Wearing Emirati tradition on the sleeve

Al Mukhawar: Wearing Emirati tradition on the sleeve
18 June 2024 00:25

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

Emirati women’s clothing traditionally features modest pieces that blend both heritage and modern designs. Despite the changes and developments in fashion that have swept the UAE, the traditional Emirati dress, known as Al Mukhawar, remains a symbol of authenticity and tradition.

The dress, often worn on special occasions like holidays or weddings, is characterised by distinctive embroidery and the use of fabrics like silk or cotton.

While the dresses may be made of simple knit cotton for daily wear, for special occasions, Al Mukhawar is often made of silk embroidered with a shiny mixture of golden or silver threads.

The embellishments, colours, and patterns adorning each dress all hold a special significance, representing the various traditions and regions of the UAE’s rich history.

Common embellishments include a pattern of golden circles, reminiscent of the gold lira currency. For special occasions, silk variations of the dress commonly feature embroidery with colourful rose patterns using bristle threads with matching coloured chest and sleeves.

Silk Al Mukhawars may also feature designs of delicate longitudinal lines and embroidery work, or at times, wide swaths of colours and embellishments.

Al Mukhawar may also be made of transparent silk fabric that is then worn over a jalabiya (dress), enhancing a sense of elegance for special occasions.

UAE national Mariam Al Dhanhani told Aletihad about the significance of the traditional dress, especially during holidays like Eid Al Adha, which began on Sunday. “The Emirati Al Mukhawar is a popular traditional garment worn on regular days and special occasions. The embellishment varies depending on the event; for Eid, it becomes more elaborate, with enhanced embroidery. Two years ago, the Emirati Al Mukhawar started gaining popularity in Gulf countries, leading to increased demand.”

Al Dhanhani added that Al Mukhawar dresses vary in shape and type, with designs varying regionally.
Another Emirati national, Worood Al Hammadi, explained the regional variences in the dress to Aletihad, stating: “Al Mukhawar is the traditional clothing for Emirati women, and the embroidery varies according to the occasion and region; it differs from one region to another.”

Explaining regional variations, Al Hammadi said: “For example, in Abu Dhabi, people prefer large embroidery, whether on the chest or sleeves. The larger the embroidery, the more luxurious and prominent the occasion is considered. In contrast, other regions prefer delicate and smooth embroidery.”

Al Hammadi added that during holidays, and during Eid in particular, Emirati women wear Al Mukhawar adorned with frills and stones, influenced by Moroccan clothing, and incorporate embroidery and jewellery.

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