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City Style Snapshot: Sana’a

The majestic cityscape of Sana's

Centuries of cultural and religious dedication dictates the style sense of those living in this historical city.


By: Nabil abdul whab Ibrahim


Yemen’s fashion sense is derived from a combination of historic Arab tradition mixed with modern textiles. The style that most men don in the old city, consists of the Futah (skirts which comes in different colours and different woven textiles) or Thoba (white robe) completed with a blazer. The key essentials that complete the Arab male dress is the Zanna, a white shirt like garment which extends down to the ankle, often belted with a dagger (Jambiya) and again, completed with the essential jacket. The Jambiya, is an instrument which symbolizes manhood and are often donned by Muslim men from the age of fourteen.


Yemeni Muslim women are usually seen in an Abaya or Niqab covering them from head-to-toe when when venturing out in public. In private however, Yemeni women often wear bright colors and are draped in gold and silver jewelry. In Sana’a, textiles are imported from India which are called Sitaras and are often a favorite choice. Henna is often a popular way of personalized expression, utilizing traditional African designs.


Jewish men are usually spotted wearing a traditional modest uniforms. For special occasions, their would often wear a one button coat and flirt with fashion with a plain felt cap. Most Jewish men in Yemen, adhere to the strict religious guidelines wearing Tzitzit along with Talit Katan as part of their wardrobe.  Jewish women also adhere to a more modest and religious dress code, often seen in long robes and covering their arms topped off with a hood which fastens under their chin.


So in public, the Yemen fashion scene is conservative, however in private the Yemeni’s appreciation for the fashion sense is not lost regardless of gender or religious background.


Photography by Fotolia.com



*Nabil loves to capture the spirit of his hometown, Sana’a every chance he gets. When he is not shopping at his neighourhood Souks or meeting up with friends for coffee and Qat, he can be found reading his favorite Hemingway book.

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