- Title: Tailors preserve prized Najaf Abayas despite lower demand
- Date: 11th August 2021
- Summary: NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 6, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WORKERS USING LOOM MACHINE TO WEAVE FAMOUS MEN'S ABAYA OWNER OF WEAVING WORKSHOP, YOUSEF AL HAJJAR, WORKING ON MACHINE HAJJAR ROLLING THREAD ON MACHINE HANDLE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF WEAVING WORKSHOP, YOUSEF AL HAJJAR, SAYING: "We are very few in this industry since this Abaya started to be manufactured by modern machines, which hit our work. Machine-made Abayas are mostly made of nylon and people buy it because it is cheap. Some still wear the woven Abaya not this one (machine-made) as they are ashamed of wearing nylon ones." VARIOUS OF HAJJAR WORKING ON LOOM MACHINE VARIOUS OF WORKER FOLDING AND SHOWING FABRIC MADE ON LOOM MACHINE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF WEAVING WORKSHOP, YOUSEF AL HAJJAR, SAYING: "(Late) Sheikh Zayed (bin Sultan al-Nahyan of the UAE) only wears the Najafi Abaya and princes only wear the Najafi Abaya. He used to go to the Abaya makers and buy from them, and he used to send them as gifts. Also in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the entire Gulf used to buy the Najafi Abaya." NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 7, 2021) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WORKING WHILE OTHERS WALK IN MARKET VARIOUS OF WORKER SEWING ABAYA TAILOR AND SHOP OWNER SELLING NAJAF ABAYAS, KARRAR HAZEM, SHOWING DIFFERENT ABAYA FABRICS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TAILOR AND SHOP OWNER SELLING NAJAF ABAYAS, KARRAR HAZEM, SAYING: "Ninety percent of the Najafi Abaya's colour is natural not dyed, with no industrial material or machines, all is natural, that's why it is so expensive. A tailor would spend ten days to finish one Abaya, some others take seven or eight days depending on the Abaya's size and the weaving is all handmade." VARIOUS OF MAN FOLDING ABAYA FABRIC CLIENT TRYING ON ABAYA (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TAILOR AND SHOP OWNER SELLING NAJAF ABAYAS, KARRAR HAZEM, SAYING: "The Abayaâ€™s cost varies from $400 to $1,400. We used to get ready-made Abayas from Syria and other countries with prices ranging between 30,000 (Iraqi dinars) ($20.5) to 50,000 (Iraqi dinars) ($34) depending on the Abaya's type. This really impacted (the demand of the Najafi Abaya) directly. The Najafi Abaya did not disappear, but demand is lower because it is expensive." CUSTOMER BUYING NAJAFI ABAYA, ABOU ALI, TRYING ON BLACK ABAYA (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CUSTOMER BUYING NAJAFI ABAYA, ABOU ALI, SAYING: "I wear nothing but the Najafi Abaya. If I go to Basra, I would come to buy the Abaya from Najaf. If I have work in Baghdad and I need an Abaya, I come here to buy one. Wherever I go, I wear the Najafi Abaya, it is different from other Abayas in terms of its type and the way it is customised." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WEARING NAJAFI ABAYAS PEOPLE AT IMAM ALI SHRINE
- Embargoed: 25th August 2021 12:01
- Keywords: Abaya Culture Heritage Iraq Najaf
- Location: NAJAF, IRAQ
- City: NAJAF, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA001EPU6ONP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In a run down workshop, tailor Yousef al Hajjar and two craftsmen work day and night to weave fabrics for the prized men's Abaya, a commodity that for decades was the pride of the holy city of Najaf.
Famous for the handmade woven Abaya, Najaf was the destination for customers from the Gulf, including the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates.
"He used to go to the Abaya makers and buy from them, and he used to send them as gifts. Also in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the entire Gulf used to buy the Najafi Abaya," al Hajjar said.
One Abaya takes nearly 10 days to finish, and costs between $400 to $1,400.
But with cheaper imports from Syria and elsewhere, demand is dwindling.
Hajjar and few other tailors however continue to sell it to preserve a treasured part of the city's culture and to also serve avid customers like Abou Ali who only wears the Najafi Abaya.
"I wear nothing but the Najafi Abaya. If I go to Basra, I would come to buy the Abaya from Najaf. If I have work in Baghdad and I need an Abaya, I come here to buy one,â€ Ali said.
(Production: Alaa al-Morgani, Maher Nazeh, Muath Freij, Mai Shams El-Din)
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