Agal – The Traditional Head Accessory
You won’t see a stronger relationship than the one Emiratis have with their traditions, culture, and traditional clothing. They’re obsessed with their formal dresses and feel a different kind of pride when wearing them. It’s impossible to let the Emirati traditional dressing go unnoticed when you’re in UAE. It’s normal to think that their national clothing is not even near what conventional dresses in the rest of the world look like. But that’s what differentiates a nation from others; Emiratis are distinct even in a big crowd of people because of the dress they wear. If you already know what a Kandura and Ghutra are, it’s time to explore an Agal; let’s learn some interesting facts about it in this article.
Emiratis might go outside casually just wearing a Kandura and Ghutra; Agal isn’t common to wear in casual settings. But if it’s a formal event or an important meeting, an Emirati can’t go without an Agal. That’s how much important it is!
Before you get confused about what an Agal is, which is being talked about so much, let me clarify that it’s an head accessory worn by Emirati men.
The complete traditional dress of Emiratis includes a Kandura (a long white robe), a Ghutra (a square-shaped headscarf), and an Agal (a black rope holding the Ghutra in place).
Let’s dig deeper into this article to unveil the facts and figures related to this head accessory called Agal, which people in UAE wear.
The ritual of covering one’s head as a sign of modesty and respect was present in Arabian Peninsula even long before the arrival of Islam. However, before the popularity of Agal, Arab men used to wear turbans, caps, hats, and Keffiyah as their headdresses. This Keffiyah was tied to the head without the need to secure it with an Agal.
The turbans ruled history until the 19th century until the Agal and Keffiyah became popular in the 20th century and took over the turban’s place.
We can trace the history of Agal back to early Bedouin tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. However, if we look back at the little evidence of Agal being present in history, we can see that it was quite different from the one worn today.
Emiratis started wearing Agal as a headdress in the 18th century, during the time of tribal wars. It was worn to keep the Ghutra (headscarf) in place and play its role in protecting the wearer from sun and sandstorms.
It was once a simple rope that worked as a camel hobble among Arab men, slowly made its way to work as a head accessory.
Agal in previous times was relatively thicker and heavier, while the one we see today is thinner; that’s how it modified over time. Back then, there were few resources to manufacture good quality Agal in a perfect form. Bedouins used to make it from the hair of black goat, brown camel, or sheep wool.
The Bedouins who hold a senior status used to wear an Agal made of camel hair and it had gold threads at intervals. That was an absolute gesture of respect and authority.
Types Of Agal
There aren’t any specific types of Agal to mention, but it varies in how it’s manufactured or the material used.
It is quite common today and is different in many ways compared to what it looked like in the olden times. It evolved with time, and so did its manufacturing process and materials.
Nowadays, two types of Agal are being manufactured; one is made of wool while the other is made of black synthetic fiber.
The Agal made up of wool is considered more authentic and is still being manufactured in some parts. It is thicker than the other one and can cause sweating during hot weather conditions. Emiratis usually prefer wearing a woolen Agal on special occasions because of its authenticity and tradition.
The other one, made up of synthetic fiber, is quite common among Emiratis and is worn regularly. It’s thinner than the woolen one and can be a good option to choose during hot weather conditions.
There are also two types based on the shape of Agal. Agal is either simple or the one with Tarboucha (the hanging string); the latter has a string that hangs down the back of the head.
How To Wear Agal?
You must have seen Emirati men wearing a Kandura, a Ghutra, and an Agal, but have you ever wondered how they wear them? If yes, then this section is for you.
Wearing an Agal is simple; all you need is a Ghutra and an Agal. Tying it is not difficult, but it still requires some practice. If you’re new to it, you might find it tricky initially, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to do it like a pro!
Here are some easy steps that can help you in wearing an Agal the right way:
– Firstly, take the Ghutra and fold it into a triangle.
– Place it on your head so its peak points towards the back of your head.
– Take the two ends of the Ghutra and tie them at the back of your head. If you want, you can also let the ends flow freely.
– Now take the Agal and place it over the Ghutra.
– Cross the two ends of the Agal over your head and tie them at the back of your head.
– Make sure that the Agal is tight enough so that it can keep the Ghutra in place.
You can also adjust the Agal according to your preference. For example, if you’re using a readily tied Agal in a ring shape, you must place it on your head over the Ghutra to ensure the two rings are aligned. Get your finished Emirati look and spend a day looking like an elegant Emirati!
Why Do Men Wear Agal?
There can be many reasons why Emirati men wear an Agal. It is not just a headdress but has a lot of significance. Since we know that Agal was designed to be worn on the top of the Ghutra, the first and foremost reason for wearing it is to get a comfortable look.
Apart from securing the Ghutra in its place and helping it to protect the wearer’s eyes and mouth from sand and sun, Agal has other benefits. Many Emiratis wear it because it adds an aesthetic touch to their look.
Being black, it’s a perfect accessory to go with any color or pattern of Ghutra or Keffiyah. So you have a good chance of styling a single Agal over different looks, sounds economical, no?
So that’s why men prefer to wear Agal; it adds a touch of elegance to the overall look and makes the wearer stand out in a crowd. It is also considered a symbol of power and authority when worn in formal settings or national conferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Agal?
An Agal is a head accessory worn by Emirati men over their headscarves to keep it in its place. It’s usually black and comes from unique materials like wool, camel hair, etc. It holds utmost significance in Emirati culture, and these people consider it their respect and honor.
Where to buy Agal in Dubai?
There are many places where you can buy an Agal in Dubai. You can find them in souks, malls, and even online. Al Karama, Al Ghubaiba, and Dubai Mall are some of the best shops. So walk, explore and find the best picks to take back home!
How to wear Agal?
Wearing an Agal is simple; all you need is a Ghutra and an Agal. Of course, if you’re a newbie, you might not do it finely on the first attempt, but that’s alright! Keep trying until it’s done.
You need to keep it on your head over the Ghutra and secure it tightly to its place by pushing it downwards. If the two rings look stacked upon each other, your look is here!
What is the purpose of wearing the Agal?
There isn’t a restricted or specific purpose for wearing an Agal; everyone might have their reason. But most wear it to fasten or fix their Ghutra or Keffiyah on their head. According to the Emirati school of thought, it signifies prestige, power, and authority.
In conclusion, the Agal is a head accessory that Emirati men wear. It has a lot of significance and is not just worn for fashion. It is made of different materials like wool, camel hair, etc., and its manufacturing process has also evolved.
You can also wear an Agal over your Ghutra while exploring Dubai, find the best places to buy Agal for men, and you’re ready to rock it!
D the next time you see an Emirati wearing it, pay attention to it and see how they wear it and how elegant it looks!