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Apr 10

The short history of the abaya

The abaya is a robe-like dress that is worn in countries of the Arabic Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is sort of like a fashion statement of the Arab world. Whether they intend to or not, women wearing abayas attract attention. This garment creates modesty and uniformity for the wearer. Nowadays, it is possible to buy abayas online with modern designs and modest looks. But what do you know about the history of the abaya? Chances are that you don’t know that many things about this apparel. Read to find out about this women wear in the Arab world.

4,000 years old cultural and religious symbol

The exact origins of the traditional Islamic garment are not known. It is largely believed that the abaya has been worn as long as 4,000 years ago by females of Mesopotamian civilization. As you can imagine, at that time women adopted the robe-like dress to cover their body to protect themselves from acts of disrespect. Therefore, it serves a religious function. Women used to reveal their necks, chests, and other parts of their bodies and when the men came, they had to cover themselves.

Abaya: symbol of respect and dignity

In the early days of civilization, women were required to cover themselves. The garment drapes from the head to the shoulders, covering all parts except for the eyes. This had nothing to do with oppression. Women gladly wore the abaya to guard modesty and, most importantly, maintain their grace. Simply put, it was a symbol of respect and dignity. Even nowadays, women wear the loose apparel without complaining. Why? Because it offers them convenience and a sense of equality.

One-piece abaya for complete coverage

At present, traditional Islamic garments feature unique embroidered details and embellishments, bringing out the shopaholic in Arab women. There are many styles to choose from, from plain to downright exquisite. As a matter of fact, many fashion designers have opened specialized stores. Not many people know that the garment was originally made from one piece, for the head and for the body. The reason for this is that the abaya wasn’t meant to serve fashion purposes. Also, the most common colour used to be black. This colour used to be preferred because it doesn’t draw very much attention.


It is clear that the abaya has come a long way since the Mesopotamian civilization. The traditional Islamic garment is still worn for religious and cultural purposes. Wearing one ensures you respect. What is more, thanks to fashion, women can now feel comfortable and elegant.


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