Popularity of Gulf abaya expands across society in Qatar

Higher demand has made Gulf abayas increasingly expensive. [Nasser ElGhanem / Al-Shorfa]

Higher demand has made Gulf abayas increasingly expensive. [Nasser ElGhanem / Al-Shorfa]



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Despite the wide range of culture and fashion in Qatar, one garment is still preferred among both Qataris and residents of various nationalities: the Gulf abaya.

The abaya is "among the finest fashion items for Arab women", said Qatar resident Hiba al-Jamal, who began wearing the garment almost four years ago.

Today, she insists on wearing the abaya everywhere, even when travelling to her home country of Egypt.

Recently, however, higher demand has caused prices to reach what al-Jamal described as "an astronomical figure".

"I prefer abayas but the problem is that they are very expensive," she told Al-Shorfa. "The price for some of them exceeds $3,000 -- a highly inflated sum. I remember several years ago the price was no more than $100."

According to al-Jamal, the increasing prices reflect Western influences.

"Today there is an increased role for Western fashion, which started to enter the Gulf fashion line," she said.

Iqbal Kashmiri, a Pakistani designer based in Doha, is designing an abaya he believes might attract a lot of Qataris.

"Demand in Qatar is for abayas made in fashion boutiques, not the ready-made ones. This is what Qatari women prefer," Kashmiri told Al-Shorfa.

"Non-residents who wear abayas buy what is displayed in department stores, and the reason is often the price. Abaya design shops sell them at prices of $1,000 or more, while the abaya can be purchased ready-made at shopping malls for a quarter of that price," he said.

Despite the spread of international fashion stores in Doha, the Gulf abaya still occupies centre stage in sales, which, according to Qatari fashion designer Hiya Kuwari, is evidence of the beauty of this kind of fashion.

"The Gulf abaya has gone through several stages of development and has been met with an overwhelming response, not only among Qataris but also among residents in Qatar and the Gulf, either Arab or Western," she told Al-Shorfa.

"The reason is that this kind of fashion is amenable to development to suit an individual's tastes," Kuwari explained. "It was common for an abaya's colour to be black, but now the situation has changed. Abayas are designed in different colours like red, blue and green, to keep pace with fashion."

"Abaya fashion for the current season is diverse and been divided between chiffon and velvet," she said, adding that other styles currently lack the same level of demand.

Kuwari has also sensed a large demand for abayas in the West and has begun offering innovative designs for several European fashion houses.

"They appreciate this kind of fashion a great deal, especially those that move away from black."

"I have clients in Doha of European origin, and some of them turned the Gulf abaya into evening wear after getting away from the black."

Qatari women, Kuwari says, still remain faithful to the traditional black abaya.

"They refuse to call it an abaya unless it is black," she said.





    Gulf women, especially Qatari women, are known for wearing the Gulf abayas, which represent the height of fashion in Qatar today. Most Arab women wear abayas, but Qatar has an edge regarding the Gulf abaya, and regarding their use and production as well. In Qatar, many fashion shops of Gulf abayas are widespread, in addition to shops that design new, modern models, which made Qatar the focal point of all women from different Arab, Islamic and even foreign countries, as many foreign companies have started to open shops that produce Gulf abayas.

  • شيرين صالح


    In spite of the great advancement in the fashion world that created a qualitative leap in the history of fashion, the Arabian Abayas, particularly in Qatar, which is distinguished with the diversity of fashion styles and cultures, is still attracting Qatari women and foreign women residing in Qatar equally. The reason behind this great appeal of the Gulf Abayas is the diversity of designers who excelled in making them, and also introducing new things to the Abayas that weren’t known before, until the Gulf Abayas became the height of fashion in Qatar and the different parts of the world, in spite of their greatly increasing prices. The reason behind this increase is the many items used in making them. However, these increased prices haven’t affected women’s willingness to buy them, because these Abayas are connected with old cultures and traditions, and they also indicate decency. They also represent an outfit that women use to cover and show off. Therefore, the Gulf Abayas are the height of fashion in different parts of the world.

  • زينب حسين


    Abayas in general have historic origins that date back to ancient times, and they are considered an inseparable part of the wardrobe of Arab women. They are considered a tradition in the cultures of the Middle East, and their history goes back to the pre-Islamic ages, when women used to wear Abayas as the official dress code of Arab women. However, conditions constantly change, and the wheel of time and development doesn’t stop, no matter what. One of the most evolving aspects of life is outfits, because women in all ages have special needs that match the variables of their time. It’s noteworthy to mention that Abayas have maintained their existence in the lives of Arab women. However, they were noticeably advanced, especially the Gulf cloaks, which are currently considered the height of fashion. As such, they attract people from all parts of the world, whether they are Arab or foreigners, and also from different age groups because of their beauty and wonderfulness. Qatar is currently considered a center of cultural diversity in the Arab world. Due to the plurality of cultures and their integration and mingling, this diversity was positively reflected on fashion, especially regarding the Gulf Abayas, which occupied the first place in fashion.

  • ميسون عبيد


    The Gulf abaya in particular is one of the best Islamic garments. This cloak is among the most beautiful clothes and plays an important role in the beauty of Arab women, and mainly the Gulf Arab women. This cloak has a special beauty for women and it is considered the “Lady” of Arab Qatari clothes. As we said, the Qatari cloak is among the most important thing in the life of Qatari women. Most of them wear black cloaks, but there were some interventions in order to bring other colors and make them evening dresses, and this has raised the anger of Qatari women. Fashion is very important in Qatar. Although Qatar has many European shops, women prefer the beautiful black cloak. This proves that women want to cover themselves and preserve their dignity. The price of this cloak has recently risen to a thousand dollars, because some designers are bringing their originality and sell cloaks at high prices. I personally think that it is not fair and it is considered as a kind of exploitation, which is forbidden by God. Muslims are brothers and it is not acceptable to take advantage of such opportunities. I personally say that the cloak is among the best Islamic garments. I wish that all Arab women would wear it. I also hope that designers will reduce prices because of the situation that we are going through today. We don’t want you to be against your people. I ask God to help you, so that Gulf women will be the most beautiful for ever. The Qatari cloak is the best garment, and I hope that it will always improve.