This dress was spotted by Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli in the above photo depicting the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with a group of his nieces as they payed their respects and he greeted them during Eid celebrations in 2011. The two girls in traditional dress on the right-hand side of the image are Sheikhah Shamsa and Sheikhah Hamda, daughters of Haza bin Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. The garments were designed and commissioned for the children by their maternal aunt, Sheikhah Roda bint Mohammed bin Khalid al Nahyan.
The story of how we got (thawb_kandurah) is very interesting. It is very rare to find an image of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan taken with women in traditional dress. Dr. Reem is a close friend of the two young girls’ mother, Sheikhah Moza bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, and she telephoned to ask the Sheikhah if the dress was still available. The mother responded by laughing, it was 2018 and she said the dress was long gone, reminding Dr. Reem that the young Sheikhah was now seventeen years old, and the gown had probably been given away. There is a tradition in the Arab culture of passing clothing on to younger children as soon as their owners have grown out of them.
After some investigation by the staff, the dress was eventually tracked down; it had been gifted to a family in Morocco. As in most cultures, it is bad etiquette, even shameful, to ask for the return of a present but the rarity of this garment meant that the request was made. Apologies were offered, more clothes were sent to Morocco as a replacement gift and the lady of the family obliged; the thawb_kandurah was returned to the UAE to be gifted to The Zay Collection in support of their work in preserving Arab culture.
Sheikhah Moza bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan married her maternal cousin Sheikh Hazza’ bin Tahnun Al Nahyan in 2000. Both spouses hold an MA in Business Administration, they have 2 daughters and 2 sons.
Sheikhah Hamda bint Hazza bin Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, their daughter was born in 2003, she is currently in her first year at London School of Economics aiming to eventually study law.
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of the traditional dress. Women used to wear a thawb that contrasted with the tunic dress (kandurah). Soon this evolved into a matching set known as (thawb_wa_kandurah). By the 1990s, it developed further, as the two identical pieces were merged into one, attached at the neckline as they became a unified piece or combination overgarment tunic called (thawb_kandurah) reserved for social events.
This example is called thawb_kandurah (myaza’) because of the panelled construction of the overgarment. Traditionally, this style evolved out of frugality, when garments were made from several pieces of expensive fabric remnants. Over time it came to be recognized as a style in itself called myaza’.
The fabric is comprised of a series of multi-colored light French silk chiffon panels in royal purple, grass green, and deep red. This garment is machine embroidered (mkhawar), in a gold metallic thread (zari), with arabesque Flora and fauna motifs. The embroidery accentuates the neckline (bidhah), central axis, and paneling joints of the overgarment, as well as the sleeve cuffs of the purple satin silk inner tunic. The embroidery is then further accentuated with royal purple, grass green, and deep red Swarovski iron-on crystals (fsus).