Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



The abaya is a traditional robe worn by women in the Arab Gulf states as both a symbol of national identity and as a part of Islamic veiling customs. Over the last twenty years, partly due to exposure to Western couture fashion, the abaya has changed from a plain, voluminous black robe to a unique signifier of personal taste through variations in fabrics, cuts, colors, and detailing. This study explores both the physical and symbolic changes the abaya (and the industry surrounding it) has undergone, as well as how these changes both reflect and provoke the conflicts in identity residents of the Arab Gulf States have undergone in an age of globalization.

Level of Honors

cum laude


Religious Studies


Martyn Smith