Friday, July 22, 2011

Beneath the veil

I was surprised by this article which I found on the Gulf News this morning as it's by a young Emirati woman who nearly expresses discontent at feeling compelled to wear the abaya.  Expressing discontent isn't really the thing in the Emirates, at least, not that I've seen in the English language media anyway, unless you're a conservative politician quoted expressing muted complaints about the amount of foreigners "coming over here, taking our jobs" (which shows there's nothing new under the sun), or the decline in the standards of behaviour of the youth.

She says she likes wearing it but obviously feels a bit fed up about it when she sees pictures of her mother at her age dressed in Western-style clothes.  She also hints at a double life, the one you live with your parents and the one you live with your friends.

Women's dress in the Emirates is something that is often on my mind because walking around Dubai Mall, which is the equivalent of walking around your local town centre, particularly in summer when it's too hot to be outside, I've noticed more and more women wearing the niqab or face covering.

It's also been in the local news recently that the number of visitors from other Gulf states has risen dramatically thanks to bargain-rate hotel rooms in Dubai.  It could therefore be that they are visitors from stricter states like Saudi Arabia, because, as I've said before, many of Dubai's young Emirati women tend to be beautifully made up with their veils pushed back to show elaborate hair styles and wearing ginormous designer heels.

In contrast, I've noticed some of the younger women still in their abayas but have thrown off their head coverings and stuffed them into their bags.  I think I would do the same if I knew I was going to be walking out into 40+degree heat or if I had made any kind of effort with my hair. It must be the Emirati equivalent of rolling up your standard issue knee-length unflattering box pleated school skirt. 

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