Known officially as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this country is home to Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world. This not only exemplifies the exquisite cultural history that existed in Jordan, but it also designates that Jordan is a nation that preserves historic and cultural identity.

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Latifa is a second generation Arab American woman who has recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. She is originally from Jordan and currently lives in the Milwaukee Area. Latifa has about ten cultural dresses including a few thobs and dishdashas which she usually wears to social events such as weddings or religious outings to the mosque. She feels very “extravagant” when wearing the dresses because because they are beautifully embroidered and beaded.The dresses give her meaning and a sense of pride and self-recognition because she says that each dress is symbolic of where her parents and her family come from. Her mother wears cultural clothing as well and passes down some dresses to Latifa and her sister. Latifa notices the difference between the cultural dresses she buys for herself compared to her mother’s because they are “a lot more beaded” and she continues to buy them from Arabic stores and overseas. As her mother passes down dresses to her, Latifa would like to do the same when she has her own children.

Najah Dahir

Najah is a first generation Palestinian woman who was delighted to share with us what cultural clothing meant to her,“I feel proud to wear clothing that represents my culture,” she says.

Originally from Palestine, Najah immigrated to the United States in 1992 from Amman, Jordan. Although she did not live in Palestine while she was growing up, she carries with her a certain nostalgia for her Palestinian heritage. Najah owns quite a few pieces that exhibit her cultural ties, she has a variety of abayas, thobes, and dishdashas; and in her closet you will probably find more abayas and dishdashas than thobes. Her reasoning for this is that she is, “from a city in Palestine and people usually wear thobes when they are from villages.” However, the abundance of cultural clothing in Najah’s possession does not mean that she wears them frequently. Najah
states that
she wears abayas when there are functions at the mosque or at the Islamic Center.   The reason she wearsan abaya to the Islamic community functions is due to the modesty that this type of attire portrays in the sense that it covers and drapes the entire body. This is something that is  important to her when attending community gatherings and events. Najah wears dishdashas and thobes to Henna parties, which are the traditional parties held before the wedding.  When she returns to Palestine or Jordan she brings back these cultural clothing pieces with her particularly ones with a more modern and up to date flare.This also encourages her daughters to remember where they are from and be proud of their Palestinian background.  Her daughters wear the cultural clothing to Henna’s and other functions and she hopes that they will continue this tradition with their own children.