40 Years of Emirati Gowns | Breathtaking Historic Collection at Robinsons this June


Dr. Reem El Mutwalli’s Collection of Emirati Gowns Spanning Almost 40 Years | Robinsons, Dubai Festival City | Until Thursday 22 June 2017

We are excited to list the breathtaking collection of 18 traditional Emirati Thawb’s (gowns), worth $1.5million, from Dr. Reem El Mutwalli’s private collection. The gowns will be displayed at Robinsons department store in Dubai Festival City Mall until 22 June 2017.

The exhibition explores the evolution of traditional clothing of UAE women spanning the past five decades during the reign of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan from 1966 – 2004.

The gowns displayed characterise the artistic traditions and regional stylistic influences that stretch from North Africa to Europe and Asia. They depict dressmaking techniques that highlight an array of intricate decorative techniques such as applique, patchwork and embroidery. Presented in groups the beautiful pieces include a combination of Thawb’s (over gowns) and Kandurah’s (kaftans) made from materials such as Asian silk known as Bu Tilah and feature hand embroidered verses inspired by the poems of Sheikh Zayed.

As the author of “Sultani: Traditions Renewed”, Dr. Reem has spent much of her life dedicated to understanding and unravelling the culturally poignant evolution of the traditional dress of UAE women. Her book, of which only 100 copies are still available (in Robinsons), accurately maps aspects of the UAE’s history in relation to the way traditional clothing has changed. Dr. Reem highlights the importance of clothing in preserving the status of indigenous women in the UAE and promotes the importance of her book as a narrative that studies the parallels between religion, culture, and identity against the changing role of women and how this is reflected in the way women have dressed. Dr. Reem has lived in the UAE since 1968, for most of her life and has experienced first-hand the impact of urbanization, socio-economic growth and oil capital on fashion and clothing and a conservative Arab-Islamic society.

Her book “Sultani: Traditions Renewed”, Changes in UAE Women’s Traditional Dress during the reign of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1966-2004) is also available for purchase at Robinsons department store until the end of September 2017.

Art and design are the foundation of Reem’s world, they have been captivating Reem all her life the love she found has become her defining characteristic. From early childhood, she was raised on the appreciation of beauty which continued to feed her soul. The results are shown through her wonderful collection of rare art, handmade carpets, antiques, and in her professional work documenting important art collections. She started her professional journey studying interior design, as well as Islamic architecture, art and archaeology. Her career started with the inauguration of the Cultural Foundation, a memorable place to the people of Abu Dhabi. She joined the Cultural Foundation when it was still closed and being prepared as a national library. She began work on the interior design of the building under the supervision of the renowned British librarian G. Thompson. When she created the first art exhibition there, she and the Cultural Foundation moved into a new era. She became increasingly involved in organizing major art exhibitions and cultural programs as the people of Abu Dhabi joined in this cultural renaissance. These early links with art have become her obsession and an inseparable part of her striving to be creative and unique as she remains rooted in her scholarly research and nourished by her dreams. 

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