One of the first impression people have about Dubai is that most of the people dress very differently from the current trends shown on Fashion TV. Everyone dresses in their own traditional clothes, Gulf nationals wear dishdash and abaya, Indians wear traditional Indian suits and saris, Pakistani wear traditional Pakistani clothes etc.
The Arabian Gulf male nationals (Emiratis, Qataris, Saudis etc) traditionally wear Dishdash. Dishdash (or Kandura in Arabic) is the long white robe. Where dishdash is usually white, it can be of any color, cream, brown, gray and even navy or black. What is amazing is that these are always crease free and spotlessly clean. How do they achieve this – the men may change their dishdash a number of times in the day to go to different events (work, prayers, dinner etc). A UAE National might have 50 or so dishdashes in his closet, and have up to 20 of those with the dry cleaners at any one time. A typical kandura is tailored to fit and it would cost anywhere between 100 and 200 Dirhams. Most people wear traditional dishdash, however sometimes they will have collars, breast pocket and/or cuffs. This would depend on the taste of the person who wears it. Dishdash can be worn with either sandals or shoes.
Along with dishdash, the guthra is the headscarf men wear. Even today, the most popular colours are the white or the red and white checks, however all the colours can be seen, depending on current fashion. The Beduin traditionally wore the red and white check headscarves as the material was tougher than the others and was a good protection against harsh desert climate. Also, the way that guthra is worn can define who someone is. Some young Emiratis even wear baseball caps instead of guthra.
The Egal is the black rope that fixes the headscarf in place. In the past these were used by Bedouin as a rope for the camel’s feet. Some younger men prefer not to wear it and tie their guthra in a different way on their head.
Emiratis wear dishdash almost exclusively at all occasions, with or without guthra. You can even see little boys barely able to walk in very cute mini dishdashes. For them it’s a symbol of their tradition and they are very proud of it.