Arwa al Khayari –
Come Eid al Fitr, Omani women visit abaya shops to get their traditional dress stitched as part of their preparations for the festival. Abaya shops can be found everywhere in Oman, but women are keen to choose the shop they trust, where the prices are reasonable and quality of the fabric is good. The most famous abaya fabrics are Top Black and Nada. The traditional abaya is black in colour, but women of late also go for other colours suitable for the summer — beige, grey and light brown.
Abaya prices generally range between RO 20 and 50, but they could go up to RO 100 or more in shops where famous brands are sold.
It is well-known among women that stitching shops in Buraimi own the best modern designs. In addition, the prices there are much lower than in other governorates. For instance, an abaya worth RO 35 in Muscat may cost only around RO 20 in Buraimi. Minah al Ghafri says that nowadays many enterprising Omani girls design abayas and have opened their own shops. This has led to the availability of a number of different brands in the market.
“These brands have new abaya designs that differ from each other. This trend ensures reasonable prices and excellent quality”, Minah added.
Halima al Busaidy says she prefers to get abayas from branded shops so as not to fall prey to commercial fraud. Choosing the right brand matters as it would check fading of colour and falling off of the beads. On the other hand, Zainab al Hadidi believes that these expensive brands are just a pretext to attract customers who are keen on the brand name that is displayed on the abaya, and also to show off at social gatherings.
There are many shops in the market that sell ready-made abayas in various sizes and colours, which are often tailored in the United Arab Emirates. Some women prefer to buy ready-made abayas to avoid delay in getting them stitched, which could take more than a month.
However, Moza al Busaidy says that the quality of ready-made abayas are bad and sizes are very large.