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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Cut it fine: Late nights for Abu Dhabi tailors and shoppers as Eid approaches

After midnight during the final days of Ramadan, this tailors’ street becomes a buzzing hive of activity

Tailors at a garment shop prepare and finish sewing Eid clothes for the upcoming holiday. Antonie Robertson / The National
Tailors at a garment shop prepare and finish sewing Eid clothes for the upcoming holiday. Antonie Robertson / The National

After midnight during the final days of Ramadan, the tailors' street near Airport Road becomes a buzzing hive of activity as staff and families sew and shop until the early hours to get the perfect outfits ready in time for Eid.

A family of seven desperately bobs in and out of one shop's fitting room, trying to find dresses for two of their young daughters. Through another window, a tailor can be seen counting cash and ironing the paper bills.

The staff at Mohammed Haydar’s tailoring shop are busy at work, with 20 more orders to finish overnight.

“We have been receiving Eid orders for four months,” says Nabih Ahmad.

“Everything has to be ready before Eid begins… we will stay open until dawn,”

The tailoring required is uncomplicated, with the design "all in the fabric itself".

Next door, Maryam Al Mazrouei eyes jalabiya fabrics closely, separating them into piles.

“Can I get your opinion? Between those two, which one is nicer?” she asks, before decided to buy both, even though she has long finished her Eid shopping.

“I got my Eid clothes a long time ago. Now I am just picking up some orders I placed before,” says the 47-year-old Emirati.

“But I found these ready-made fabrics with beads, which is now in fashion, so I am buying a couple of them to keep for gifts and so on.”

Since the beginning of Ramadan, she has already spent Dh7,000 on garments.

“They are not all gifts, of course, most are for me and family,” she says.

Um Mubarak bounces her 1-year-old-son across her shoulder as she watches her daughters, 7 and 4, try on Eid dresses. Her sister, husband and teenage son all frantically search for the right sizes.

“We all finished our Eid shopping in mid-Ramadan, only my daughters are left and we can’t find their size,” she says, pointing to a pink, Victorian-style dress with golden embroidery.

Her sister holds a similar white and gold dress, and asks the tailor if he has a bigger size. The entire family then discuss dresses and sizes in vain.

“If we don’t find what we need, we will hop from shop to shop all night,” says the 30-year-old Emirati housewife.

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Read more:

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At Dar Al Bayan Tailoring, head tailor Mohammed Shakeel counts Dh200 and Dh100 bills, placing them in to separate piles. He then pulls out an iron and starts flattening Dh10 bills.

“They get wrinkled in my pocket, so I flatten them out with the iron,” he says.

He has already finished all his orders. Even at this peak season, business is not as booming as it used to be.

“We get half the orders we used to get before, everything has become more expensive and people cannot buy that many items,” he says.

“I don’t know if the new tax is the reason, but that’s the way it has been for the past year.”