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A “Khaleeji” abaya is an abaya from the Khaleej region. Al-Khaleej (Arabic: الخليج) is an Arabic word which means “gulf”, i.e. the Persian Gulf or Middle East. So a Khaleeji Abaya could be an abaya from any of the seven Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (which includes Dubai). However, when the Khaleeji Abaya is mentioned, it usually refers to abayas from Dubai, as Dubai is a hotspot for abaya tailoring and for the latest abaya designs.
So what distinguishes the Khaleeji Abaya from other abaya styles?
Traditionally, the abaya or some form of long gown has always been a staple garment for women in the Middle East since the emergence of Islam. Over the years, these countries have styled the abaya to keep up with the changing climate and fashions of the region. But it has still retained its traditional modest element.
The Gulf or Khaleeji style is typically black, although in recent years we are seeing more colours being introduced. However, black is still the most popular colour for Gulf abayas because it is not only neutral and modest, but it does not attract attention, which is a key element of the Muslim attire for women.
The Khaleeji Abaya is usually loose-fitting and long in length – it usually hangs well below the ankles and sometimes drags on the floor
The abaya is worn by the majority of women in the Middle East, so naturally there are countless styles of abaya to cater for each individual taste. The abaya adapts to the latest fashion so you will see common trends emerging every season in souqs and boutiques across the khaleej. There are now fashion events in the Gulf regions dedicated to Khaleeji Abaya designs and styling.
Khaleeji Abayas are also made for weddings and special occasions like Eid. These are heavily embellished with stonework, embroidery and beads.
There is a Khaleeji-styled abaya suitable for every occasion and taste, as well as every budget. This Gulf fashion staple has spilled into the West, and we are seeing stores like Next, Harrods and Selfridges now stocking the Khaleeji Abaya.