At an informal gathering in Al Ain, Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli was asking questions about different articles of clothing, when she enquired about the meaning of the term (dag). Among the guests, there was a lady who Dr. Reem had not met before and she volunteered the answer. They became involved in a discussion and the lady, Sheikha Bint Ali al Zaabi, asked Dr. Reem for her contact number.
The next morning Sheikha had her driver deliver this (sarwal), to demonstrate an example of dag. A typical gesture practiced around the Arab world, where people will generously gift items simply because one asked questions and showed interest in a topic or an object.
Sheikhah Bint Ali al Zaabi is an Al Ain university graduate, with a BA in languages. She married her paternal cousin her second year at university. She bore three daughters and four sons. She insisted on entering the work force and becoming an elementary teacher.
This polka-dotted (bu_tilah) cotton fabric is very popular among women in the UAE. In its opaque cotton form, it is used to make undergarments like this (sarwal) and can also be used for tunic dresses (kandurah). The more translucent light cotton voile or chiffon silks are used for overgarments (athwab).
The garment’s decorative ankle-cuff (badlah) recalls the hand adorned (badlah_talli) in its overall shape and size. However, in this example, the adornment is achieved using the less-expensive more contemporary method of machine embroidery (khwar) in silver metallic thread (dag_khus). All the while mimicking the basic badlah_talli with a centre portion (bayt) decorated at the top in a jagged edge (talli_minsharah) motif, and (talli_ftul) motif is repeated on the side borders (traf).
The baggy waistline is gathered and fixed in place with elasticated ribbon replacing earlier more traditional cotton cords (nsai’ah). The more tapered legs with embroidered ankle-cuffs are opened and closed with the aid of a zipper. Earlier versions used traditional cotton thread ball buttons (igam) and more recently, metal snap studs (siq_w_biq).