This article is part of a whole outfit including a combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) (ZI2021.500903 UAE), veil (shaylah) (ZI2021.500903b UAE), face mask (burgu) (ZI2021.500903c UAE), and underpants (sarwal) (ZI2021.500903d UAE)
According to the label, this cloak (abayat_ras) is made by Dalia brand in Sharjah.
On the day the UAE mission to Mars was launched on 9th of February 2021, Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli was surfing social media, an image of a woman carrying cardboard with a simple hand written message that read “we reached Mars” captured her attention.
She reached out to the account that posted the image. A young UAE photographer Alia Bent Sultan al Joker had been visiting her best friend’s farm on this festive day. As the whole country was glued to the media stations in excitement and anticipation of the coverage. The whole nation was firing the SM competing to post masses of congratulatory posts. In this herd-excitement, her friend’s mother agreed to pose for the photograph to eco her personal proud sentiments of the occasion, and the photograph was birthed.
Both ladies welcomed Dr. Reem’s suggestion to donate the image as well as the whole outfit portrayed in the image to the Zay Collection in commemoration of this monumental date. The image went viral and soon Khasibah became a public figure interviewed by press and media including Vogue Arabia, all wanting to photograph her to relive the moment.
Alia Bint Sultan Al Joker (@alia_bent_sultan), born in Dubai, graduated with a BA in Integrated communication and marketing, Zayed University UAE (2003). Obtained her masters in Quality Management, Wollongong University, UAE (2009), and currently holds the position of Director of Family Development at the ministry of community development. Photography is her passion.
Khasibah Ali al Dhmani is registered to have been born on the 1st of July 1953. (Most birth dates occurring before the formation of the UAE in 1971, are surmised, as birth dates were not recorded. Hence everyone is generally listed as being born on the 1st of July, and the year it is calculated based on anecdotes of special events that corresponded to the year of birth, for example, the year when someone took power, or the year that faced an extreme heatwave, etc.)
She was married at the age of 14 and gave birth to 6 sons and 10 daughters. She never attended any formal schooling but managed to create a cottage industry making and selling traditional perfume and incense. She is very active and participates in different cultural weeks depicting local UAE heritage, and now has her own Instagram handle (@khaseibah_).
As a whole any cloak (abayah), (bisht), (mishlah), (dafah), is generally constructed from two rectangular pieces of fabric of equal length (fajatayn) sewn together horizontally (hashiyah) or (khabun).
From the 1990s onwards new versions appeared, such as this one, where the fabric came in wider widths so there was no need for the earlier central hemline, a step in the continuing evolution of the abayah.
The two outer edges of each length (fajah) are folded to the middle and sewn at the top to create the shoulder line. The lengthwise folded sides (fajatayn) thus leave an opening in the middle running the length of the front body section.
Two small holes are opened at the folded line, on the top corners of each shoulder line to allow the hands to pass through creating the sleeves without having to cut and add a sleeve as in most clothes.
This cloak abayah is worn draped off the head (abayat_ras) in public, social, or celebratory occasions. It is still the custom in many regions of the Gulf, especially in the Emirates, that women do not take off their abayah at larger gatherings, such as weddings and family celebrations, or even at female-only events. However, since the fabric is generally very sheer silk chiffon it allows the silhouettes of the heavily embroidered clothes worn underneath to be visible.
If removed, the article was customarily folded into the smallest possible square, tucked snuggly under one underarm, or placed under its wearer, when seated, so as to not be mixed up with someone else’s cloak. At present, elaborate dressing rooms (abayah-rooms), fully decked with makeup and perfume, are created in homes and major social gatherings such as weddings, where guests can hang their cloaks and freshen up both upon arrival or before departure.