Dubai Travel News

Travel & Tourism News of Dubai and rest of UAE


Emirati Sisters Develop latest Abayas

abaya1Abaya has always been an identification of Middle East. The Abaya design has remained pretty much unchanged for centuries, but a group of new designers in the United Arab Emirates are now giving the traditional Islamic dress a modern-day makeover.

The esigners are experimenting with bold colours, materials like lace and leather, and even add sequins, embroidery and daring slits to jazz up the often considered more like a uniform black robe.

Reem and Hind Beljafla began their abaya design business, DAS Collection Dubai, two years ago after realising the market for high-end design for Muslim women in Dubai was woefully underserved.

Their abayas are very much haute-couture – everything is custom-made and prices start at $1,000 (£606).

It [abaya] is not a tent that covers us all – we can still look pretty and elegant and sexy Badr al-Budoor, designer
The young sisters say that as long as a woman’s form is still covered by the abaya, there is no harm in having a bit of fun with the design.

“It never loses its identity – the target is to cover the woman’s body so there is no harm in playing with the fabrics,” says 24-year-old Reem.

abaya2“We thought why can’t we take our abayas and make something to suit the modern girl, but still keep that conservative style.”

The Beljafla sisters have come under fire for some of their pieces, especially ones which are made from transparent fabric, or show off the shoulders.

Badr al-Budoor is now taking her business online.

Photo: Abaya Couture But they insist their more racy designs are only supposed to be worn to ladies-only gatherings such as wedding parties.

They also say that an evening-wear abaya is not supposed to be worn for a trip to the mall during the daytime – much as one wouldn’t wear a cocktail dress to the office.

The sisters have big ambitions.

They have already met famous US designers like Vera Wang, and believe the day is not far off that Western models will be seen sashaying down a catwalk in Paris or New York wearing one of their creations.

‘Spreading the word’

abaya3Badr al-Budoor is another Emirati designer who is having fun transforming the age-old abaya by adding frills, polka dot print and giant bows to give her pieces a princess-like feel.

Interest in her unusual designs is so high that she is taking her business online to target an international audience.

Rabia Z now runs a fashion empire
She also hopes that, as she opens up to the overseas market, people might view traditional Islamic dress in a different light.

“The whole point of doing this online is to spread the word on the abaya and show people that it is a fashionable piece that we wear,” says Ms Budoor, who recently launched her website

“It is not a tent that covers us all. We can still look pretty and elegant and sexy – just as covered and as traditional as we need to be.”

Ms Budoor does not see a contradiction in creating “sexy” abayas.

“The definition of sexy here in Emirati society is very different to the West,” she says.

“Sexy to us means elegant, modest and feminine. It’s possible to look attractive without showing any skin at all.”

‘Modest yet modern’

It is not just Islamic dress that is being transformed.

das-collection-abayaEmirati designers have also started to take Western-style clothes like T-shirts, skirts and trousers and adapt them for Muslim customers.

The potential for further growth is massive – it’s still untapped, it’s a niche market

Rabia Z, designer
Rabia Z began designing when she started wearing the hijab, or a headscarf, a few years ago while living in the US.

“I realised there was nothing stylish for women like me to wear – something that is conservative but still stylish and fashionable,” says Rabia, who is now one of the region’s most successful designers.

“It was shocking that no-one seemed to care about us – there was absolutely nothing that catered to the needs of Muslim women.”

Rabia started her business eight years ago and now runs a veritable fashion empire catering for everything from haute-couture to high street.

She plays with both fabric and cut to achieve her design mantra of “modern yet modest”, and even stitches hijabs into hooded tracksuit tops so that women can exercise in comfort.

But Rabia does not only want to dress Arab women, and is targeting Muslims right across the world, including in the West and further afield.

She already has plans to tap Asian markets like China and Korea, as well as countries closer to home like Iran and Afghanistan.

“The potential for further growth is massive,” she says confidently.

“It’s still untapped, it’s a niche market and the potential is just enormous.”


  1. As beautiful as they all seem to be, the purpose of Abaya has lost it’s meaning. To me, abaya should be fashionable and yet serve the purpose of not attracting the opposite sex. These are too flashy and attract unnecessary attention. If they are made a little bit less colourful, they will be very beautiful.

  2. assalamun alaikum. i am really attracted to arabian hijab style. I relly like the way arabian women wear their sheila can you please give e tips of how to wear sheila in different way at different occassions. And if there is any latest way plz lemme know and ireally want to learn how to wear sheila with the floral hair clip.thaks.waiting for your fast reply :)

  3. these designs r nt suitable as abayas.
    abayas shuld b of a unique designs bt wid less color full.these can nt b woren at usual times,and also looks a bit funky.
    i appreciate the work bt these designs r vry good fr gowns bt nt fr abayas.
    i hope 2 c sum vry good abaya designs.

  4. no, these are not acceptable and muslim women around the world would not want to wear any of these abayas, they are too bright and attractive, totally ignores the reasons why women are meant to cover up, black does not attract attention. lol, men will be looking more than once if a woman wore one of these abayas and went out, islamically you will be doing wrong by putting these designs out on the market, it would be like buying nothing but a maxi dress.

  5. I think these garments are absolutely beautiful. I am very much interested in learning how I may acquire a couple for my wardrobe. Now I know there are some who think these are TOO colorful, and this may attract too much attention from the opposite sex. Well, I for one love COLOR. I thank Allah (SWT) for technicolor. I am a witness that men (yeah, even Muslim men) will look lustfully at a woman if she’s wearing a potatoe sack. I am tired of being held responsible for the lustful eyed men who don’t put into practice the criteria of Islam.

  6. Assalam alaikum.these garments are stanning,but
    not for hijab.hijab is a cover to cover the beuty of these wonderfull coulors.

  7. AS Long as you are covered,, colours are not against Islam? Allah created everything beautiful, even fruits come with different colours,,, come-on guys,,, did Islam mention, you only have to wear black???


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