DUBAI // Police were last night still hunting the killers of an Emirati officer shot dead during a robbery in Houston, Texas.
Salim Saif Al Mazroui, 28, was returning from evening prayers with his father on Sunday when two men followed them into their flat, shut the door and demanded their cash and valuables.
When the father and son tried to flee, shots were fired and Salim took a fatal bullet to the chest.
Salim, the father of a 2-month-old boy, was in Houston while his father, Saif Al Mazroui, underwent treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre.
Following the shooting, the robbers escaped with cash, mobile phones and the family car.
On Monday morning, an investigating officer said they had not ruled out the possibility that the Al Mazrouis had been targeted because they were wearing kanduras.
However, residents of the city have insisted that explanation was unlikely.
Ellen Goldberg, a Houston resident who helped organise the Mayor's annual iftar dinner on Sunday, said: "People are used to seeing national dress here. Any day, any place, one can often see people in saris, African clothes or Arab dress and there are stores for hijabs and abayas."
Ms Goldberg is the president of Sister Cities of Houston, an association that organises educational cultural activities, and her iftar was attended by about 2,000 people.
"It pains me that this happened," she said. "I think it's a random robbery and killing, not motivated by ethnicity but by common criminals. Houston is not like this."
The UAE Embassy in Washington said they were following the investigation closely.
At the start of July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released travel advice for UAE citizens on the state news agency, Wam. The site offers tips about travelling to countries that prohibit the wearing of the veil or burqa, but gives no specific advice concerning the wearing of national dress in the US.
Shamma Al Falasi, 23, a graduate, said she only wears national dress when she visits countries in the Gulf.
"I think wearing the national dress in places like the US would put a person in awkward, but not serious, situations," she said. "I still cover up in the same way, just not using the same clothing."
Mariam Omran, a 21-year-old Emirati graduate, said she had no trouble wearing her abaya overseas. However, her brother tried wearing his kandura only once.
"When he tried to walk down the street with it as an experiment in Europe, everyone was staring at him like he just came out of a time machine," she said.
* With additional reporting by Anna Zacharias