This veil (shaylah) was acquired at Abdullah (Khunji) store in Abu Dhabi during the 1990s. Abdullah is one of the Emirates’ earliest and most prominent fabric merchants. Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli knew Abdullah from childhood as her mother was one of his early clients.
This rectangular high quality silk (safwah) veil (shaylah) is simply a length of cut fabric.
This type of veil is reserved for special occasions and social gatherings and it is worn together with a cloak (abayah) to cover just the head, shoulders, and upper portion of the body. It is generally draped off the head, gathered on each side, and tucked in place at the elbow junctures similar to draping a shawl.
A common public practice within the region is to pull down the top portion above the forehead concealing the whole face down to the chest line, or reversely hold one of the draped corners in both hands and flip it up to cover the crown concealing the entire face, neck, and chest areas. This then renders the article a (ghishwah) from the verb to conceal. Both actions are carried out by women very swiftly, elegantly, and somewhat sensuously when any non-relative male crosses their path unexpectedly.