Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hijab in Oman pt. 1

Hijab style really does vary depending where you live in Oman, though the differences are subtle beyond Beduoins and Southern Salalah/Dhofari style. Muscat, the Capital style, is anything worn underneath but usually Western clothes, with black abaya worn on top and either a colourful shayla, or a black shayla, styled in one of three ways if you are Omani. In other regions of Oman outside of Muscat, traditional dress is worn underneath the abayas or jalabiyias and sirwaal. Muscat doesn't have any colour rules when it comes to the headscarf so bright shaylas and rainbow pashminas abound. You can go blinged, you can go subtle in black, or totally crazy texture and colour. Also there is no law that says you must wear abaya or cover at all, but almost all Omani women do wear abaya. Some opt for skirt suits if they do not wear abaya, and younger girls who've just started wearing hijab, skinny jeans and then open abaya with skinnies, and then finally, the abaya not showing the shape of the legs anymore. The most common way of wearing the headscarf or shayla it is to wrap it all the way around starting with one end being slightly longer than the other from the middle section, but this does not cover the chest, with the decorative end pinned to the side to flap loosely. If one lacks pins they will tuck the loose end under the temple or the chin to make it hold and stay. *Most Omani women do cover their hair, though I noticed the tweens usually don't (they may also wear skinny jeans and sneakers on their way to transitioning to abaya). Also, no one wear undercaps, so if there is slippage, one just rearranges their shayla and it isn't a big haraam deal since it is usually unintentional.* If wearing this look, I tend to wear two shaylas, one underneath for chest coverage, and the other so that the decorative trimmings on the edge of the shayla hang nicely. Otherwise, I don't wrap my scarf an Omani way at all. Omani and Emirati shaylas are shorter than Saudi and Qatari styles. The second most common way is to style is with one end being longer than the other and leave this hanging down over the bust. But since it is not pinned there it tends to move and expose one boob, alas, unless you are pancake flat (mashaAllah, I actually envy this look as a woman who likes to run), or have a wider pashmina. Omani shaylas are never enough for anyone larger than a small B cup bra. I've thought about pinning a pashmina with a brooch to secure it so it doesn't move in this style, but I usually wear black shaylas.Another look that is popular with certain Muscat sets is the Gamboo3a worn under the hijab as in UAE. I have not seen anyone wear this look with chest coverage, and most of the time, because it makes the head bigger, it also lifts the shayla up at the back of the neck and may expose the neck and some hair at times. Unless worn with Gashwa or niqab it isn't very Islamic the way girls in Oman wear it. Gamboo3a is the flower pouf claw hair clip show above, modelled by some lovelies interested in experiencing an Omani makeover lol. *Note, in the interior, and outside of Muscat towards UAE, excepting places in Sharqiyah (the Eastern region) and Salalah (the Southern region) wearing the Gamboo3a is taken as a sign of being irreligious, and even of being "slutty" in Oman (unless you are Dhofari from Salalah, as this is part of their culutre).* Where I live it is a no-no. So is seeing the shape of your hair high on the head in the shape of a bun. So I tend to wear my hair in a low bun or braid it. If I wear a high bun because I am in a rush, I also wear a gashwa, so no one will think that I am a "bad girl" with a bump. Guys in Muscat not from Muscat (most people work in Muscat but are not originally from Muscat) will think you are easy or less religious if you wear Gamboo3a, even Salalah guys if you do not cover your face while wearing it, so do keep that in mind. The Gamboo3a is de rigeur for girls from Salalah, and it is worn higher on the head with niqab. Though I don't have pics, Salalah girls usually have the most glam abayaat, and they wear their regional niqab style, which is a shorter face veil with or without a nose string. There are no colourful shaylas, but abayaat may be intricately embroidered or covered with crystals. Alas, from all who I have spoken too, though some Dhofari girls adore their niqabs, others are forced, and it is worn for more a cultural reason than for an Islamic one. I have two Salalah niqabs, one with a string, and one without, and I do love them for ease of eating out, and style. Though I don't think people not from Salalah wear them in Oman. I don't care. No men who are not Dhofari will try to hit on you when you wear one, and any Dhofaris, as soon as they figure out you are a Westerner, will leave you alone :D. Underneath their abays, Dhofari girls usually wear cotton Abu Thails (a traditional garment that has a long train in the back and if just below the knee at the front). They will style their shayla with the decorative end flipped up over the front of the niqab (saudi shayla style) or with a gashwa from UAE attached at the back. I am usually lazy and just strap the niqab on over a longer shayla.Just outside of Muscat, in interior villages, or inside homes in Muscat where alot of male visitors will come and go, colourful dresses called "Lendli" are worn with a very modest long shawl called "Laysu". An even longer shawl may be worn over top the "laysu" as a jilbab, also or bright colourful fabric, and it is called a "warquayah". The lendli differentiates itself from most Jalabiyias, in that it is not overly decorated, maybe some simple embroideries or flounces of fabric on the cuffs of the sleeves and neckline and some crystals. But Omani Lendli are almost always composed of brightly printed fabrics in a wide array of colours. They are either made of cotton, or of chiffon lined with silk. They are not for formal occasions and are the most commonly worn garment in villages or when visiting in homes. Some still cover them with abayas, but close to home many wear them outside as a jilbab. Trousers are always worn underneath, and most girls favour leggings these days but the older ladies wear nylon ones lined with lace at the bottom. I love the laysu because they ALWAYS cover the chest. They can even cover to your waist if you want to wrap them that way.Traditionally, abaya was not the jilbab worn by Omani women. Beduoin wore black cotton mesh "Ghabah" which is a semi-sheer overgarment, and village women wore long warqiyah shawls, which were effectively colourful "chadors/khimars". The abaya first came to Oman with the event of the Gulf oil boom, where many Omani relocated to Bahrain for work in the oilfeilds. This was the abaya raas, the Gulf style overhead, which has to be held closed. Older Omani women tend to wear it with their intricate traditional dress styles on underneath, and Shia Omani sisters tend to wear is almost exclusively in Muscat sans veil, with their floral "lendli" outfit underneath. Maybe that's why when I first moved here the Shia girls were so quick to adopt me? Really, no one my age in Muscat wear overhead unless she is Shia. Alas, I was not. If I do not wear a flip niqab with my overhead, I am almost always assumed to be Shia. Also, because of the way I cover my chest. Most shia sisters in Oman have mashaAllah the best sense of chest coverage, and my husband totally admires them for this, and thier modesty when it comes to cosmetics. I rarely see Jafari girls with makeup on at all outside of their homes. Same goes for interior women in their lendlis, but in abayas, they usually fail on complete chest coverage. Women who wear the flip niqab or gashwa (usually imported from UAE, Qatar, or KSA) usually do so for religious reasons and have good coverage from their longer face veils, and they may pair it with abaya raas, or shoulder abayaat. I wear both, though unless I am in traditional Omani dress that is too fancy, I never wear my overhead without niqab. In Oman though, it is most commonly worn without.Shoulder abayaat in the average household price range for Oman come in more variety of designs than the rest of the Gulf. KSA and UAE can't compare, though when it comes to the very high priced designer styles, UAE has that. But honestly, I've always found more to my style in Oman. When it comes ofr niqabs though, one is stuck with tailors makes, and Al Motahajiba niqabs, unless you want Salalah styles, unless you are a better shopped than me maybe. Omani women wear casual styles, and more ornate designs, but tend to do so modestly for the majority, unlike UAE, where open styles are paired with too-tight or revealing clothes underneath. They do save the sheer styles though, for weddings that are women only events, alhamdulilah.

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