Fatima bint Mohamed bin Thani Al Mehairi

COURTESY Ahmed Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri

Fatima bint Mohamed bin Thani Al Mehairi, my late great-aunt, wore this ornate "burqa" from the time she was married in the early 1900s. It was a symbol of her status and wealth. Two rows of gold coins, large and small, embellish the upper edge of the burqa. One day during a drive to her farm, Murad, her chauffer, shared the happy news that his wife had given birth to a daughter and that they had named the baby Fatima, after my great-aunt. Wanting to offer her namesake something precious, Fatima immediately ripped off the decorative of her veil, removing a row of gold coins, which she gave to her chauffer. Before her death, Fatima gave my aunt Meera this exquisite burqa to keep in her memory. My aunt has kept it safe ever since, in a tin box of butter biscuits, as was Fatima’s custom.

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