Dress is a means to express one’s individuality and identity. The main item of dress for Qatari males is the thawb (plural: thiyab), a smart ankle-length shirt very similar to that worn in Bahrain and Kuwait. In summer Qatari men wear light, white thiyab, but in winter the fabric of the shirt is heavier and has a darker colour, using different shades of grey, brown or ochre. The bottom hem of the thawb is generally folded over, and the sleeves are cuffed with buttons or cuff-links. The thawb, under which Qatari men wear a shirt and sirwal, protects the body from loss of moisture in a hot environment.
On formal occasions a light, black or brown cloak or bisht is worn over the thawb, usually draped loosely over the left shoulder. The collar and lapels of the bisht are generally embellished with heavy gold thread embroidery, which is hand sewn and then beaten with a mallot. Badu sometimes wear a heavier camel-hair bisht.
Most adult Qatari men wear a circular skull cap, the keffiyeh, which resembles lace. This is topped with a headscarf, the ghutra or shemagh.
The ghutra is usually white in summer and checkered in winter, either red and white, less frequently black and white, and only occasionally shows alternative combinations such as white and green, white and blue, or white and orange. The square headscarf is folded diagonally and fastened with a double black coiled and knotted rope known as an agal. Some agal are worn with one or two tails hanging down, depending on the fashion. The ghutra can be wrapped around the face in cold weather or when the shamal occurs, offering additional protection. The style of the ghutra depends on both individual preferences, age, weather and national differences. It is removed during prayer.
The male national costume is adorned with typical accessories which – like the type and quality of the thawb, bisht and ghutra – are highly indicative of an individual’s local status and wealth. Jewellery, watches, pens and sandals are important accessories.
Many men also carry prayer beads, or misbah, in their pockets
Women in Qatar usually wear the black abaya, a loose-fitting garment with long sleeves, although some fashions such as the farasha (butterfly) or the ‘fish’ style might be more tight-fitting. Younger women can increasingly be seen wearing Western-styled clothes beneath their abaya, which might be made of a transparant fabric. Accessories such as jewellery, handbags and red or silver sleeves add colour to their garments.
According to the requirements of the Koran and the Hadith, women should cover their entire body, excepting their face, hands and feet, when in public. Qatari women are however increasingly showing their faces in public, sometimes revealing part of their hair and necks. The most common head scarf worn is the hijab, a square scarf which is folded and which covers the hair and neck. The batula, which is very typical of this part of the Gulf, is generally worn by older women, and symbolizes family status and respectability. The different styles of the batula range from a coarse piece of black cloth with a fold for the nose and small holes to see through, mostly worn by Bedouin women, or more elaborate, gold-coloured covers, which are primarily worn by wealthier urban women. The niqab also covers the face, except for the eyes.
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IBN RUSHD/AVERROES (1126 – 1198)
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