You’re not in Kansas Anymore
I often see signs around the Emirates that remind me I’m not in the States anymore. Below are a few in Abu Dhabi. Most of them reflect cultural differences.
Kandoras (aka dishdasha) and ghutras are the two main items that comprise the National Dress for male Emiratis. The former is a tailored, cotton robe that is traditionally white—other colors appear on more fashion savvy Emiratis during the wintertime. The Emirati kandora is adorned with a long, braided tassel, which is attached to the collar and hangs down like a tie. Omanis also wear a tassel, but they are much smaller and hang off to the side.
The Ghutra is a checkered headdress worn with the kandora. While it is more formal to top it with an agal, a black rope once used as “camel hobbles”, it can be styled several different ways. When worn as a wrap (the preference of younger Emiratis), it is called a hamdaniya. No matter how it is worn, the color scheme does not signify anything other than personal taste.
Emirati women typically wear abayas (black cloak) over their clothing and shaylas (head scarf) that cover their hair. These ensembles are stylized and accessorized to fit the taste (and bank account) of the wearer. An $18 million abaya, the world’s most expensive, was unveiled in Dubai earlier this year.
The Pork Locker
Although Islam forbids the consumption of pork, several grocery stores in the UAE sell pork products to accommodate non-Muslims. These pork lockers contain everything from bacon to Pop Tarts.
Okay . . . So maybe this is a bit juvenile, but . . . The sign always seems to bring a snicker to Westerners who pass by. I can’t explain how the business arrived at the name or its meaning.
No Men Allowed
Gender roles are complicated in most cultures, but there are perks to being a female in the Emirates and I’ve yet to see any signs that say “no women allowed.”
A Winning Combination