Saturday, February 5, 2011

If You’re NOT Arab, Don’t Dress Like One?

do you agree? yes, ade orang cadangkan supaya ban kan orang lain dari memakai pakaian kebangsaan orang arab ni! i’m sure more than one of my non-arab readers wear abaya!

let’s face it – the arab culture is sweeping our nation : malaysian ladies are wearing abaya, eating yemeni mandi rice and listening to maher zain. it’s obviously arab-mania!

i myself have never tried wearing abaya in malaysia, but here in dubai, it’s like part of my wardrobe! sending khaleef down to his bus, it’s so much easier to wear the abaya over my pajamas!

when i was pregnant with kazim, i practically wear abaya most of the time when we go out! airy, lots of space for my expanding tummy and of course, extremely comfy.

also, some malaysians i know wear abaya to avoid being mistaken as filipinos! sad to say, here in dubai there is an apparent double-standard when it comes to what your nationality is, so it’s best to wear the abaya proudly so as not to be mistaken as an indonesian maid, or a filipino retail staff!

but again, do you agree that if you’re not arab, then don’t dress like one?

* * *

this letter from a reader (a local, surely) was published in the local newspaper, and his/her message is loud and clear :

Sunday 9 Jan, 2011

    As an Emirati I think that the wearing of local dress by other nationalities should be banned.

    There are so many other nationalities who wear a *kandora and people think they are local and give us a bad name with there attitude!

    Frustrated Emirati, Dubai

    taken from 7days.


    *kandora is the long white jubah worn by arab men.


    in the lift of my apartment : me & my sisters had fun wearing abaya (when they were here dec 2009 when i was 8 month pregnant with kazim), complete with matching headscarves. it covers appropriately, it’s very comfy, the material needs no hassle of ironing and we look great haha – what’s wrong with that? are we insulting the arabs by doing so?


    and this is another letter published that supported the reader’s opinion.

    Respect Emiratis, and don't dress like them

    Monday 10 Jan, 2011

      Expats wearing national dress is insulting, says this reader

      I fully agree with the letter from Frustrated Emirati - ‘If you’re not a local, don’t dress like one’ (Letters, Jan 9). The UAE National dress is something that should be worn with pride by Emiratis and is part of their culture. Having expats wear the national dress is insulting to many Emiratis I imagine.

      ..And for those people who dress like an Emiraiti out of choice .....why?

      Granted, respect the culture and don’t dress like a street walker (men included). Cover up and dress sensibly - but dressing in UAE National dress should be for Emiratis only.


      also from 7days.


      do you agree with both these readers?

      maybe the reader has had a bad experience with some expats who wore the abaya or kandora. however, it’s fair to say that some of us expats pun ada pengalaman yang tak best with orang tempatan yang berpakaian abaya dan kandora!

      it’s just about people, not the dressing!

      to go so far as to ask for a ban is going over the top. there are many reasons why non-arabs wear abaya, and not all of them will bring a bad name to this lovely attire.

      and insulting? if an arab lady wore our traditional baju kurung, i would be more than happy; proud even! well, when my non-malay colleagues wore baju kurung to work, or when my non-malay schoolmates wore baju kurung to school, i felt nothing but pride. the baju kurung is an evergreen, elegant, yet demure attire and looks so lovely on anyone who wears it!

      i remember during my eldest sister’s wedding, my sister’s chinese classmate actually bought a baju kurung specially to be worn for the kenduri. also my good friend erika who’s an indian, tailor-made a kebaya songket just so she could be my maid of honor on my wedding!

      these non-malays show such good sport, and i welcome their enthusiasm over my traditional attire. they look so gorgeous wearing our (malay) traditional attire, why should i be insulted?

      the only thing i agree about this issue is, if you dress like one, don't dress negatively. which, if you think about it – senang cerita, kalau pakai pakaian tradisional tu, perangai tu elok-elok la sikit! nama pun *tradisional*! hihi. mesejnya ialah, sila kontrol ayu kot!


      malaysians wearing abaya! : mr. khairul’s mom & sis teh, me holding a 3 yr old khaleef in front of atlantis hotel on palm jumeirah island. next picture : my younger sisters azot & syidot, in front of the exquisite burj al-arab hotel.

      comel pe malaysians pakai abaya! hihi


      these are some of the replies from other readers after the 2 published letters. there are many, but these are the ones that i agree with!


      1. "..if this is the case, shouldn't all locals stop wearing baseball caps? after all they are american.." (some young arabs wear kandora with baseball caps, instead of the kain merah petak-petak tu)
      2. " why do local ladies wear western clothing under their abayas instead of the traditional dress and suruwal - huh."
      3. "..many countries including, yemen, syria, india, pakistan, iran, iraq and many other countries wear the abaya (in few different formats).."
      4. "the abaya or the kandoora is not a national dress, it is worn by many people in parts of the islamic world.."
      5. "..(i’m not local but) sooner or later i’m going to get marry to one emirati and before i met him i am already wearing hijab and abaya since i reverted to islam, no regret alhamdulillah.."
      6. "..plenty of foreign women also married to local men and their husbands or in laws encourage them to wear abaya to fit in - so to speak...for e.g. sonia ghandi is italian but she adopted her husbands culture and wears saris.”
      7. "..if i see that a person is someone that i hold in high esteem and someone that respects other cultures and nationalities, i would be proud to see him/her wear my national dress, whatever it might be - an abaya, a dish dash, a kimono, a sari, a shalwar kameez, whatever.."
      8. "..i have so many friends from different nationalities who have been so happy to dress me up in many different traditional dresses, and would have been very happy, for example, if i attended their wedding ceremonies dressed as 'one of them'."



      here’s us in front of a fort in oman : my sis-in-law tina in abaya, a pregnant me and my bro-in-law asrar in black kandora – doesn’t he look snappy!


      i wear the abaya by choice – the 2nd letter asks why. well, here are my reasons!


      • it’s a lovely dress – it’s beautiful black (which as everyone knows, gives the ‘slim’ illusion!) and the design is elegant – long, flowing with simple decorative beads or embroidery
      • it doesn’t need ironing
      • it’s easy to wear – just pull it over whatever you’re wearing; jeans, pajamas or baju kurung!
      • it’s very comfy and airy
      • it’s very modest and covers the aurat appropriately
      • it’s black so it goes with ANYTHING! printed, or any colored tudung


      and why do you wear abaya? would you like to wear one? *wink wink*


      Nadiah Sidek said...

      aiyoo...benda mcm ni pun ada ke? setuju sgt dgn syigim. bukan abaya tu masalahnya..masalahnya si pemakai abaya yg tak disenangi tu la. takkan la krn 2-3 org yg 'bermasalah', nak suruh banned org luar pakai abaya..uhuhu..

      kite belum ada abaya lagi. ada jgk yg berkenan tgk kat online tapi harganya tu..mcm nak tercekik dibuatnya :p. kat dubai dlm range brp ek harganya? mesti lebih murah, kan?

      Silent Scribbler said...

      Syigim... hey. I think the letters are ridiculous. Bukan kita dah pakai abaya sejak zaman2 UIA ka? He he he he. Kat sini I memang pakai jeans, t-shirt and sweatshirt because it's practical and easy. And you are right about them wearing sexy Western clothes under the abaya... so it's not a big deal kan? Pakai je sbb comfortable!

      lina said...

      salam syigim - Pada kak lina ini semua terpulang kepada niat individu itu yg pasti kak lina mmg sudah jatuh cinta dengan memakai you said la kat dlm kita boleh pakai jeans dan t'shirt lepas tu sarung jer abaya....kan...senang dan cantik...kak lina pun suka tengok adik2 syigim pakai comel jer...dan kemas....pastinya.

      Hidayah Ismawi said...

      am also a big abaya fan .. it's great, simple, comfortable and proper covering of aurah ..

      but I wish ppl didnt wear it simply as a fashion trend ..I guess in the end it doesnt matter what a person wears .. it's how they act ..

      paish said...

      i'm wearing abaya now due to my perut dh boyot. baju kurung x muat dh..he3. nice n comfy. we should be proud kalau org luar pakai baju tradisi kita. those letters are ridiculous. tapi bukan semua yg berfikiran begitu kan?

      amirah said...

      huhu..jd issue pulak. pakai abaya just sebab me, not a big issue pun.

      The Juggling Queen said...

      hah, commenter senyap nak bersuara nih.

      I totally not agree with those 2 letters that u compiled. (Hampeh!!)

      I wore abaya like all the time (masa pregnant especially) Even I dah balik malaysia ni, I wore abaya to work on Friday, and my friends like.. ' oohhh... that's pretty!' 'Mahal tak?'

      I even met this emirati in Alamanda and the husband are very proud to see a non emirati wearing abaya (as the wife didn't)

      And what about all those people wearing such tiny clothing, dan menjolok mate? nape tak marah all the Westerner yg bawak culture tu plak?

      To me, even they didn't wear abaya or kandora, I still ban this local people for their rude attitude and double standards.

      Fuh! penat melepas geram nih..

      by the way, loooveeee.. the writing!

      Aishah said...


      Wow, unbelievable but then again everything is possible when it comes to human beings.

      I'll put on my white Haj jubah whenever I leave the house for a quick errand. Like you, it is easy, simple, and modest.

      And your sisters, are they twins or are the three of you triplets? Semua comel-comel and manis-manis belaka and nampak sama dan serupa. Alhamdulillah.

      i amsterdam said...

      Dear Syigim, I can't believe that there are people out there who would write such a letter.. I wonder what were the responders like. Do most of the Emiraties agree with the writer(s)?

      This brought to mind, somebody did mention to me that Emiraties were "hidung tinggi and look down on other Asian Muslim" Now I wonder whether the statement was true afterall. What do you think Syigim?

      Syigim said...

      great responses, people! i'll get back to you tomorrow ok, coz i really wanna give quality replies to your comments!

      thanks! :D

      Syigim said...

      >> nadiah, agree - bukan baju yg salah, org yg buat hal kan. kat dubai kalau pandai cari mmg bole dpt yg murah2. tp yg mahal tu mesti kualitinye pun best :) nadiah pakai abaya mesti comel :)

      >> aisha, exactly! that's what the responds say - abaya does not belong to the emiratis! :P

      oh yes, aisha - tight jeans, hot red maxis - you name it. there could be ANYTHING under that black abaya worn by the arab ladies! hihi

      Syigim said...

      >> kak lina, adik2 syigim mmg comel. tp comel lagi kakaknye hihi

      >> hidayah, in my opinion, with all sorts of tudung fashion mushrooming in our malay community, it's obvious that tudung has become a 'fashionable' addition to an attire - whether we like it or not!

      Syigim said...

      >> paish, i'm sure bukan semua emiratis yg berpendapat mcm tu. yes! saya pun suka pakai abaya esp masa pregnant! sgt sgt selesa! :D

      >> amirah, betul! xyah la kecoh2 kan. biase la kan bila muslims pakai jubah/abaya.

      Syigim said...

      >> fairus, i belum pernah lagi pakai abaya kat msia. i dunno why. haha. but it's good that you've had good xperience bila pkai abaya in msia.

      about local ppl yg rude - hmmph! *eyes rolling* where do i begin!!! haha :P opppps! & i know cukup lah! hihi

      Syigim said...

      >> aishah! thanks for making my day - saying that my sisters and i are triplets & muka serupa hihihi... in truth, i am 6-7 years older than those 2 chipmunks! hihi. thanks again for the compliment!

      and those 2 are not twins, but they do get that a lot! :)

      >> i_amsterdam, hmm interesting. i'm sure not all emiratis share this view, but i would like to know what they really think about this issue too!

      generally, that's the presumption - that arabs sombong, and look down on asian muslims, but i'm telling you frm my personal xperience that once they know you're MSIAN, they treat you better. really!

      Anonymous said...

      are you offended when you are mistaken for an indonesian or a filipino?
      nothing wrong with being a maid or a retail staff.

      Syigim said...

      thanks for your comment, anon.

      to answer your Qs - no, i'm not offended when i'm mistaken as indo or filipino BUT i don't want to be mistaken as such because i'm a malaysian.

      and yes, i agree there's nothing wrong with being a maid or a retail staff if you're either one - but like i said, i've personally experienced the double standard in dubai when i was thought to be one.

      nways, i apologize if my message wasnt clear. :)

      check out these postings too!

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