Kandura – The Traditional Dress Of Emirati Men
On the bustling streets of Dubai, you’ll see many people of different nationalities, religions, languages, and clothes. Yet, among all this glamour and buzz, the most distinctive people are still Arabs or locals whom you’ll always see in their taditional dress, the Kandura.
There is no doubt Emirates is open-minded to tourists and visitors regarding dressing etiquette, but you’ll rarely see an Emirati in western attire.
What’s the reason behind that? Have you ever tried to dig in deeper? If not, let’s get on this exciting journey with us!
The reality is that the authorities of this country aren’t imposing a dress code on its people; instead, people themselves are attached to their traditional dresses. And they won’t give up on it no matter what!
These people feel endless honor and dignity in adopting their conventional attire. Traditions are deep-rooted in their values, ethics, and morale; everything related to their rule is close to their heart.
Let’s talk about one attire of the Emirati men you must have seen the most while wandering on the streets of UAE.
Kandura in UAE is one of the most famous traditional dresses for Emirati men. It’s a long, loose, collarless shirt, usually white in color.
It is a light fabric, so it’s easier to carry in hot weather conditions. In addition, Kandura usually goes with a headscarf known as Ghutra and an oval-shaped cap known as Agal.
You might have noticed Emirati men tuck one side of their Kandura inside their waistband while leaving the other side to flow freely. They do this to ride their camels and horses without hassle easily.
Keep on reading and open the door to the history of Emirati Kandura dress; let’s walk together in the dunes and discover some interesting facts about it.
History Of Kandura
The Kandura dress originated in the Arab region of Andalusia. It got first introduced to the Arabs during the Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled much of the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal).
Many Arabs migrated to Andalusia and adopted the local Spanish culture during this period. That’s how the Kandura dress made its way into Arab culture.
The Kandura dress was initially known as the ‘thawb Andalusia. It was a long, loose shirt that was very popular among the Arabs in Andalusia.
Over time, the thawb Andalusia evolved into the Kandura dress we see today. Abaya and Kandura are now an essential part of Emirati culture and are worn on all occasions, from weddings to funerals. Even kids are fond of wearing a Kandura, and different designs of kids’ Kandura available in markets.
Different Types Of Kandura
You must have seen people wearing different colored Kanduras; that depends on the person’s personal choice of what they want to wear.
But if you’re in the Gulf and are too shy to ask anyone whether there are any types of trends for Kandura, fear not; we’ve got you!
Here’s a brief guide to teach you the different types of Kandura and where they are common in the Arabian Peninsula.
There are two main types of Kandura dress – the ‘white Kandura’ and the ‘Dishdasha.’
1. The Omani Dishdasha
The traditional Omani dress called Dishdasha is quite similar to Kandura, but there are slight differences. This dress is often collarless and mainly has a small loose tassel hanging from the shoulder’s top left side.
With Dishdasha, they wear two types of headdresses, one is Kuma, and the other is Msar. The former one is casually worn headwear that looks like an embroidered cap. In contrast, Msar is a turban that they wear primarily on special occasions or official meetings.
2. Saudi Thawb/ Thobe
The traditional Kandura you see in the Gulf countries has its name in Saudi Arabia, i.e., Thawb/Thobe. The only difference in this formal dress is that it has a two-button collar and cufflinks that are pretty prominent.
Another thing to note is that the Kandura has no side slits in Saudi Arabia; instead, it’s a full-length robe.
3. Bahraini Thawb
The traditional dress of Bahrain is similar in name to Saudi dress but has minor changes. The side pockets of Bahraini thobe/ thawb contain small details to it.
The style of wearing the Ghutra is a bit relaxed compared to other Gulf countries as they loosely throw it to the side or back.
4. Qatari Thobe
The Qatari thobe is different because its mainly manufactured and stitched using a gleaming material. This thobe has buttons down the length, a collar, and a front pocket on the chest. Apart from the button-down style, Qataris are distinctive because of their Ghutra style.
They wear their Ghutra in a snake style, pointy from the front, also known as the Cobra.
5. Emirati Kandura
Let’s finally move towards the traditional Emirati Kandura, which is the talk of the town these days. The Kandura that Emirati men wear differs from the dress or thobe worn in other Gulf countries.
The Kandura in UAE comes with no collar, a long loose tassel in the front, embroidered sleeves, and sometimes the front side of the Kandura too.
Emirati wears white and red Ghutra depending on their choice or occasion and secures it with the Agal with a black tassel hanging from the back.
6. Kuwaiti Dishdasha
Kuwaiti Dishdasha is similar in looks to the one worn in Oman but changes color based on the seasons. In summer, they wear light-colored dresses, but in winter, they wear darker colors to catch some heat and stay warm.
They wear the Ghutra in a typical style, symmetrical on the head, and the rest of the cloth falls behind the shoulders.
Accessories With Kandura
Emirati traditional dress is simple, and you might not see many accessories that go off with dresses. But still, they use some accessories to complete their typical Emirati look.
Let’s explore what their accessories are and why they wear them.
You might have noticed that men in Kandura or thobe come with a black rope-like thing that goes around their head, called an Agal. It holds the Ghutra in place and has a decorative tassel hanging from the back.
Other than Agal, some men also wear Bisht, a cloak-like garment worn over the Kandura. It is mainly seen in black color and has golden embroideries on it. This garment is worn to depict status and importance, but sometimes people confuse it with winter wear because it looks like an additional layer.
A basic white Muslim cap is worn under the Ghutra, called Ghafiya. The vest these people wear under the Kandura is commonly known as Faneela.
You must have seen men in Kandura carrying a stick with them, and that’s called an asa; it is a walking stick used by older men or those who belong to a royal family.
Other accessories include shoes, watches, and perfumes; as Emiratis are so much into Ouds and scents, they wear them necessarily.
The men’s Kandura dress is mostly of wool, synthetic fiber, or cotton. The choice of fabric depends on the climate of that place as in some countries it’s pretty cold, so they prefer wearing woolen Kanduras to stay warm. Whereas in hot countries like UAE, Kanduras are mostly made of synthetic fiber or cotton to keep the body cool.
Usually, you’d have seen people wearing very light-weight Kanduras in UAE because the weather there is hot most of the year.
There’s a misconception about the Kandura colors; some people think white Kandura is worn only on special occasions or funerals. Well, that’s not the case; there’s no specificity related to the colors of Kandura.
Common Emiratis also wear white Kanduras casually and at weddings; the choice is personal. But white Kanduras are primarily seen in summer as white is known to be friendly for hot weather.
The winter season in UAE sees a hike in colorful Kanduras; people prefer to wear darker shades like brown and grey to beat the cold wind in the evenings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to buy cheap Kandura in Dubai?
Dubai is the hub to buy the best Kanduras at amazingly discounted prices. However, the best place to start your search is in the local markets, as these are the home to the best Kandura shops in Dubai.
Besides that, many online stores sell Emirati Kanduras at meager prices. You can also check out some of the famous souks in Dubai, like the Gold Souk and Spice Souk, where you can find many shops selling Kanduras at a reasonable price.
If you want to buy high-end Kanduras, the next spot to explore is Dubai mall, it has amazing Kandura shops in Dubai where you can find exclusive pieces.
How to wear Kandura?
Wearing Kandura is not tricky, but if you want to know the proper way of wearing it, then here are some steps you can follow.
First, take the Kandura and put your head through the neck hole. Then, put your arms through the arm holes.
Take the lower part of the Kandura and wear it like your pants. Once you finish that, take the Agal and Ghutra and put them around your head, and you are ready to go!
What to wear under Kandura?
There are many things that you can wear under Kandura, but the most common thing that Emiratis prefer to wear is a vest.
Vests are known as Faneela in Arabic and play a vital role in keeping the body cool.
Apart from that, you can also wear a long sleeve shirt or a t-shirt under the Kandura. But make sure that the shirt is not too tight or loose. Otherwise, it will ruin the look of the Kandura.
Lastly, Kandura is a simple yet elegant dress that looks best on men with a good height and physique. It makes them look more presentable and decent. Since the old times, Abaya and Kandura holds significance in Emirati culture.
Emirates has set a great example by keeping its culture and traditions alive. The Kandura dress is one of them, and it’s good to know that men in the Emirates are still sticking to their roots.