Demand for Palestinian keffiyeh is increasing in the UAE as more and more residents are using them to express solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza that killed more than 15,500 people.

The black and white chequered scarf that is traditionally worn around the neck or head evolved into a powerful symbol of Palestinian nationalism during the revolt in 1936–1939. Once associated with cultural heritage, the keffiyeh has become a symbol of solidarity to the Palestinian cause.

Local markets have witnessed a surge in demand for the traditional scarf. “We have seen a sharp rise in the sales of keffiyeh and products in that print,” said Abdul Haleem, a salesperson at a local store in Deira.

“It was always in demand. But now people are buying it to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause,” he added.

Many stores across the Deira market have stocked these scarves, and the traders said that people from many neighbouring and African countries are buying them wholesale to resell back home. “It is a powerful display of solidarity,” said Ashif, another vendor in Deira market.

"There are many ways to wear scarves. Some tie it on their heads, some wear it around their necks, and women usually wear it over their shirts,” added Ashif.

The prices of these scarves start at Dh25 in retail. “The prices depend on the quality of the product and the most expensive one we have is for Dh 250,” said Ashif.

It is not only the scarves that are in demand. There are many products in the Palestinian traditional keffiyeh prints. Vendors have responded to the increased demand by expanding their inventory of Palestinian goods. These include key chains, mugs, and the traditional Arabic shawl with Keffiyeh prints.

"These shawls are highly in demand. We have been receiving heavy orders since last month. Many different designs are visible in the market. For now, we have over seven designs with us,” said Abdul Badi, a local vendor at the Deira souk.

Each shawl costs about Dh20 in retail. “However, if people want to buy in wholesale, it's Dh160 for a dozen,” said Badi.

Keffiyeh-designed bags

Bags with Keffiyeh design are also in demand. Germine, owner of Bubbly Thread, said that she started these print bags in April and since the war broke out, the demand has been increased.

“I make the bags myself. And currently, I am receiving orders every day,” said Germine.

"I really don’t have time even to receive calls. I am packed with orders. People are buying it to support the Palestinians,” said Germine.

Buying olives, oil to support the cause

It is not just the Keffiyeh-designed products. Palestinian olive oil, olives and clothes are also in great demand.

"I wanted to show my support for the people of Gaza, and wearing T-shirts with Palestinian slogans is a meaningful way to do that. It's a small gesture, but it carries a powerful message," said Aisha Ahmed, a Dubai resident spotted at a bus stop.

A salesperson at a popular supermarket in Dubai said that he noticed many residents asking for olive oil from Palestine. “We stock Palestinian olive oil every day. It is in high demand. People ask us about products from Palestine. It’s a form of showing support,” he added. “Palestinian olives were always in demand. And currently, we are running out of stock.”

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