Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Shawwal 3, 1445 H
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The charm of Omani dishdasha


One of the things that would point out to be an Omani whose outfit is locally called dishdasha or kandura. It is a humble ankle-length, collarless gown that comes in a variety of colours like white, black, blue, green and brown. White dishdashas are traditionally worn on formal occasions.

Mohammed bin Saleh al Subhi made it his hobby to be the first Omani to collect and document Omani men’s fashion and he re-designed a number of them and also put his own touches by adding a modern, civilised touch in line with the spirit and beauty of modern life, while preserving its ancient Omani identity.

Al Subhi opened a shop dedicated to displaying Omani men’s fashion. There is a good turnout, as he explains, to visitors from in and outside the Sultanate to learn about the Omani men’s fashion on display.

He explained that Omani men’s fashion is divided into two categories. the first (the outfit), which is: men’s woven clothes such as the dishdasha, and has approximately six (6) types according to what is customary in each governorate. On the head, men wear either the white turban that is worn by shaikhs, scholars and several members of society or the musar and the kumma, which are considered more common. Then some would prefer to wear the bisht, the shawl, or al Subaeya, which our ancestors used to put on the shoulder while travelling from one area to another.

He added that the second category is what the man wears over the worn dress and uses on occasions of weddings and travels as accessories, like the Khanjar that has more than seven types in Oman, the lead belt, the jambiya or what is called by some as (al Talaheeq), the sword, the stick and the scarf.

Before starting this initiative, Mohammed thought carefully about how to develop his hobby to reach out and be something beneficial to him and others. The idea was to have a place to list and document these costumes in a database to be a reference for all researchers, writers specialising in the fields of ancient heritage, and students in universities and institutes, to preserve this authentic heritage from extinction.

“There are some other factors that require us as Omanis to preserve our traditional clothes. There is a big wave of clothes imported from abroad that is invading the community. some sewing shops distorted the origin of the Omani dishdasha specifications, adding some details that are not related to the Omani heritage at all. In the past, the Omani man used to wear the full dress with accessories to teach the youth the way the Omani man should look on the occasion but now with the lack of occasions, people are not dressing in the same way. All these factors helped the loss of the identity and I thought that I could contribute at preserving the look by instating this shop”, al Subhi commented.

Mohammed said that he decided to go through the experience in 2008 by visiting the various wilayats of the Sultanate and meeting with the elderly to learn about men’s fashion and what distinguishes the costume of one wilayat from the other. he noted that during his meetings he was able to collect many details related to Omani men’s fashion, which contributed to the creation of a database for him to start in Intensive training in fashion design and development.

Al Subhi points out that after all the preparatory steps he took, he obtained a government permit to establish a shop that contains many fashions and a workshop for Omani dishdasha sewing and fashion design, adding that this idea was well accepted by the public.

“The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Investment Promotion responded to the endeavours I made in this regard, and in 2017 issued a resolution specifying the specifications and standards for the Omani dishdasha”, he said

“My efforts did not stop to this extent to define and preserve the heritage of my ancient country, but rather participated in exhibitions of men’s fashion locally and in the Arab world, including Kuwait, Bahrain, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and Netherland”. The Omani dress is unique and gives the Omani man prestige and dignity. The slight changes that we, as designers, add to the dress gives it even more charm”, he said.

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