Emiratis thrilled as Spanish football legend swaps jersey for kandura on UAE National Day

The Emirates Football Club shared photos of the Andrea Iniesta sporting the kandura, headgear and the traditional Bisht coat

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Nandini Sircar

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Photos of Iniesta from Instagram
Photos of Iniesta from Instagram

Published: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 12:14 AM

Emiratis rejoiced as the celebrated Spanish footballer Andres Iniesta recently donned a traditional kandura in honour of the UAE’s 52nd National Day festivities.

The Emirates Football Club shared photos of the legend sporting the kandura, headgear and the traditional Bisht coat.

In August of this year, the ex-Barcelona and Spanish midfielder caused a stir in the sports world by committing to a one-year deal with Ras Al Khaimah’s Emirate Club.

'Beautiful symbol of tolerance'

Speaking to Khaleej Times, UAE national Saeed Alremeithi said, “The UAE's tolerance and openness to embracing various cultures and traditions are impressive. It’s fantastic how people visiting or living here, especially when a man of Iniesta’s stature wears it, it signifies respect for local customs and traditions."

Saeed Alremeithi
Saeed Alremeithi

“It shows that foreigners enjoy exploring local customs, trying traditional clothing, savouring diverse cuisines, and immersing themselves in our rich culture which makes us feel proud.”

Having been born and brought up in Al Ain his affinity for the Al Ain football club is natural.

“I’ve always liked the Al Ain football team since childhood as I am from there but I also really like FC Barcelona,” Alremeithi adds.

“The kandura is a beautiful symbol of tolerance, representing the country's peaceful nature and its welcoming attitude toward others. It's remarkable how these traditional elements can embody powerful values which then get enhanced when a public figure, who is not an Emirati, especially wears it on National Day."

He added that Qatar hosting the Fifa World Cup last year brought significant global attention to the Gulf region. “It prompted discussions about sports, infrastructure, and cultural exchange in the Middle East."

Echoing similar sentiments, UAE national from Dubai, Fahad Mohamad Abdul Rehman said, “Like many others in the country, I also follow football. I used to go to Al Ain whenever there would be a match. When I saw that someone like Andrea Iniesta wore our National dress I felt very proud."

Fahad Mohamad Abdul Rehman
Fahad Mohamad Abdul Rehman

"I always feel happy when people of any other nationality wear our traditional Kandura. This also shows that the outfit is very popular. I always take a picture or video of such persons and post it on social media.”

He explains sharing and celebrating cultural attire is a great way to appreciate diversity and showcase the beauty of different traditions.

“The fact that people from various nationalities embrace and wear the Kandura speaks volumes about its appeal and significance. It's also a meaningful way to showcase the global appreciation of our traditional attire.”

Respect must be shown

UAE national Malak Alfarsi said that the sole requirement for anyone wearing the national dress is to show unwavering respect for it.

She said, “Respecting our cultural or traditional clothing is essential. Wearing it in inappropriate settings, like bars or places not aligned with tradition, is disrespectful. Doing so undermines our values. However, during special occasions where our culture is celebrated positively, it elevates our identity and position.”

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