Abeer Mohammed, Emirati Canadian; born in Abu Dhabi and raised between Abu Dhabi and Vancouver. Being of mixed race gave me the advantage of seeing all races as one: the human race. However, my “cultural-mix” made me realize that we are members of a cultural species. That is, we depend critically on cultural learning in virtually all aspects of our lives.
I have been creating original designs for UAE’s traditional masks for women, called “burqa”s, for more than eighteen years. I’ve been fascinated by the Burqa since the first time I laid my eyes on it!! I found freedom and happiness in wearing it..the very same way girls worldwide feel when they wear a masquerade mask!!
However, the pleasure of being unique in a party (I cannot stress enough how important it is for me) and the magical feeling of being a fantasy character (yup, I said “being” not “looking like”..cuz when I wear the Burqa I become a fantasy character!!) were not the only reasons that made me create burqas soooo passionately and wear them sooo proudly. As a Muslim Emarati girl living in Canada, I felt like an ambassador for my country and would seize every opportunity to introduce my culture and religion to all the other beautiful cultures…and what more fun, simple, and straight forward way to introduce my beloved U.A.E. than wearing a personalized Emirati burqa to events?!
My Burqas’ mission:
I hope my Burqa designs will revive the Emirati iconic Burqa which sadly almost extinct :(
I hope my personalized Burqa designs would make the Burqa fashionable in the eyes and hearts of Emirati girls..especially lil girls & teenagers, as currently the Burqa is only worn by few elderly Emirati women.
I hope my personalized Burqa will be seen as a piece of art that not only celebrates the Emirati culture but also unveils and celebrates the personality of the girl behind the Burqa.
And last but not least, I hope my Burqas can change the way westerns view the Burqa in general. The Burqa is wrongly accused of being the international symbol of women’s oppression!! The Emirati Burqa is part of our national traditional costume…it is an icon..a central part of our folklore. Even though the Emirati culture and Islam are merged in UAE’s society, the Burqa is not religious nor is it mandatory…the Burqa is a form of fashion not oppression!!!