The Black Abaya
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Sypnosis: The traditional abaya serves as an important symbol of Islamic and nationalistic identity for people in the Arab Gulf states. Recently the Abaya has moved beyond the Arab Gulf states, emerging into the world at large and adapting yet again to meet the needs and tastes of Westernised Muslim women. Moreover, it has been adopted into the world of Western high fashion and is now being worn by non-Muslim women. It has become a truly global garment but the mystery around its origins still remains, begging the question as to where did the Abaya really come from?
Conflicting accounts of the abaya’s origins exist. Many people claim the abaya is a millennia-old Saudi Arabian tradition, however other experts offer a different story, describing the abaya’s ascendance into Saudi culture as a rel- atively new trend, emerging only in the twentieth century.