There is a saying, “It's not the gay coat that makes the gentleman”. That is true, but in some countries, clothes have a deeper meaning than just aesthetic one. In particular, in the UAE clothes have a deep sacred meaning. There are unique garments that are perfectly suited to local people due to their religious peculiarities, customs and weather conditions.
Women’s and men's clothes differ not only in style, but also in colour: men are traditionally dressed in white, and women — in black. How it can be — a woman embodies all that is bright and pure in the world! And here is black... Actually, the black colour is not considered to be dismal in Arab culture. On the contrary, this is the colour of the main relic of the Arab world — the Kaaba, therefore, we can say that women are given a great honour in Arab culture. A mundane explanation is the historical fact that in the old days, the black fabric did not cost as much as white. Besides, such an assignment of colours is necessary to draw a contrast and underline the difference between male and female population.
In the view of hygiene, Emirati men have a great luck as white clothes reflect sunlight, and black clothes (traditionally women’s) attract it.
Many dignified Arab politicians appear frequently on TV screens, and we see that they are really dressed in white. The only black accessory is an "agal" (a special headband that fasts a keffiyeh – a headscarf that protects head and face from adverse climate conditions). Besides, agal is quite multifunctional – at least it was so in the past. This threaded woollen band previously served as a reliable item for tying camels for the night. And during the daytime it became an integral element of men’s clothing.
It should be noted that the Emirati people are very neat – in case of necessity they can change clothes several times a day, and that is why they all look very tidy and well-groomed. By the way, men in the United Arab Emirates have no reason to complain about the number of clothing items as there are more than fifty dresses in an ordinary wardrobe! There are no laundering problems – UAE residents are happy to use dry cleaning services due to their low prices.
However, one cannot say that women in the UAE suffer from mediocrity of their wardrobes – their dresses "kanduras" are very bright, multi-layered and decorated with gemstones and gold threads. Special bloomers ("sirval") that are worn under the dress provide legs with extra coolness and prevent sweating. Every Emirati woman traditionally wears a "sheila" on her head, which, however, does not hide the face. Other UAE women’s headgears are gishwa, burqa and hijab. They all differ in style, purpose and strictness of rites in a particular family.
Upon arriving in the UAE, you will be pleasantly surprised not only at how much the locals respect their traditions, but also with a good knowledge of English, due to what you can easily find a common language with local people.