All that glitters is not gold. All wearing thobes are not Emiratis. You could be in a board meeting with Middle Eastern nationals and you would classify them as “a bunch of Arabs” judging from their apparently similar looking attire. You wouldn’t be able to tell a Qatari from a Kuwaiti. Typical mistake everyone makes. Good news is you don’t have to play Sherlock to identify nationalities. Here are a few things to look out for in the cultural dress and you will be able to figure out who’s who.




Slim fit, high quality fabric kanduras featuring a one-button collar and you have your Kuwaiti. Their ghotras are balanced. The symmetry is created by letting the ghotra hang equally on both shoulders then throwing it over the head so it looks like a weighing scale from the front.


They are fairly easy to spot. Instead of ghotras, they adorn a hat called “Mussar”. It is embellished by colourful embroidery and personalised according to the individual’s taste. The kanduras are collarless with short, colourful tassels attached above the breast.


The Bahraini kanduras are loose fitting with the distinctive feature being a soft shirt collar. They also occasionally sport shirt pockets. The ghotra is butterfly shaped and allows more freedom and neck movement. The overall look is simple yet elegant.


Starched, stiff, shiny, the Qataris have an imposing demeanour usually brought upon by the way they style their ghotras in the form of a snakehead. The kanduras have a long and stiff hassle or a shirt pocket.


Collarless kanduras with long tassles and matching embroidery on sleeves, the Emiratis sport a simple look. They style their ghotras over the shoulders which is an easy-to-achieve look and is preferred by most teachers.


Saudi kanduras stand out with their two-button collar, tight fitting and cuffed shirt sleeves. The red  and white checkered ghotra has a complex arrangement which is tough to master but looks great.


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