AL Khous: Discover One of the Oldest Human Crafts

Al Khous is part of UAE's ancestral heritage. Dive into learning about its origin and techniques

Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

Old Emarati Man weaving Al khous (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The palm is a versatile tree; Emirati families once relied heavily on it. They have benefitted from every part of the palm tree. When building houses, they have used its stems for roofs and supporting structures; leaves for walls and inner roofing. Its leaves can be harvested all year round.

Al Khous is handwoven palm leaves (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Al Khous (weaving palm fronds) is a part of the UAE's ancestral heritage and is one of the oldest professions still practiced, especially in traditional markets.

Practicing old craft of Al khous in heritage week (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

It is hard to know exactly how old the craft is, as organic material decays quickly. However, archaeologists have found evidence of houses made entirely of palm in the region, on sites dating back to ancient times.

Old Emarati Women weaving Al khous (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The craft of making baskets and other utensils also dates far back in history. It is one of the oldest human crafts and is practiced all over the world.

Products that can be made from Al khousDubai Culture & Arts Authority

For the people of the Arabian Peninsula, their nomadic lifestyle made the palm tree their lifeline. They would, and still do, weave baskets and bowls for the kitchen, mats for sleeping and for placing food trays, and bags to be carried by camels.

Practicing old craft of Al khous in heritage week (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Al Khous requires raw materials from palm trees. Most of those practicing this hereditary profession are women working from home who demonstrate exemplary levels of skill and experience.

Close up image of Al khous being weaved (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Al Khous is handwoven palm leaves that were traditionally used to make roofs and floor mats. The dried palm leaves would be collected, cut and washed before weaving. The palm leaves can also be naturally dyed in different colors like purple, green and red.

Old Emarati Women weaving Al khous (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Crafting these products begins with spreading out the palm wood to dry in the sun. Then the wood is sliced lengthwise in bundles and placed in a pool of water until it softens.

Old Emarati Women weaving Al khous (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

It is finally sewn together using a needle and pared with a knife. This would trim the ends and eliminate any thorns before being painted with a special dye.

Al Khous (weaving palm fronds)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

There are many types of Al Khous products and they come in various sizes, colors and shapes. The most famous of these products include tablecloths, bags, hats, hand fans, brooms, mats, baskets, food containers and date basket covers. They are made with great accuracy and craft.

For more Heritage Stories check out Burqa'a

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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