In-depth Exploration of Furniture in the UAE: History, Trends, and Cultural Influences
An Overview of Furniture in the UAE
The history of furniture in the UAE lies in the tradition of the past. Mainly, people depended on the raw materials they found in deserts. Later, the Emiratis came along due to their remarkable skills in producing a wide range of different types of furniture by using raw materials from the desert.
Going further deep into the history and tradition of UAE, look at the tradition of Abu Dhabi having a wide collection and variety of ancient furniture.
Mandoos ancient home furniture. It is a storage facility where they keep all their clothes and valuable items. The wood that is used in the manufacturing of the box is teak, ebony, and pine. The price of mandoos depends upon the wood quality. Wooden sculpture carvings are used for decoration. Every traditional house must have these mandoos as home furniture.
Saharah is another ancient piece used as a metal box. Bright colors and beautiful art made it more beautiful. These bright colors made it more attractive than every traditional home. They kept their clothes in it, and the Saharah was usually placed in the main room.
The Pillows, known as mawasid, is a comfortable cotton fabric. Haseer is another traditional piece of furniture, a wide rug about 2 meters wide and 5 meters long.
Another traditional piece of furniture is a rug made of palm wicker of different sizes called Semma. The rug is quite significant in length, and it covers the large tent. Long ribbons are woven from palm wicker and decorated with bright colors in various designs.
Manz is another home piece of furniture made up of palm frond sticks. Through which they made small beds by ropes. Durj is a ladder made of tree stems and branches.
Zawliyah or Sijjadah is another rug that is the living room furniture mostly. The material they used was goat wool or leather sometimes.
Few are the home furnishing items women made from palm fronds and decorated with a wide selection of stylish designs. For example, a hand fan is called MAHAFA, and a broom is called MAKHAMMA for cleaning purposes. JURBAN is a container made from the same tree, palm frond. The JAFEER, ZABEEL, AND GUFFAH are cylindrical containers and baskets in different styles and designs.
The Haban, Mandaban, Mawress, and Obaya are the other few containers for home traditions. These containers store various items like coffee beans—grains, etc. JARBA is the water container, and Dharaf is the container for placing the ghee. All of these are the mandatory equipment that multiply the beauty of furniture of UAE’s ancient tradition.
How has traditional Emirati furniture evolved over the years?
Over the years, traditional Emirati furniture has evolved and significantly influenced the lifestyle and cultural traditions of the UAE. Previously, Emirati furniture was crafted from palm frond woods, sometimes using camel leather. These people were simple, so they had the most simple designs and had a nomadic Bedouin lifestyle.
With time, traditions have changed, and modern traditions and lifestyles come with charming designs. They carved the home furniture with the most luxurious materials like pearl inlays or brass, and transformation occurred from traditional furniture to modern furniture. The strategies evolved from neighboring countries like India and Persia with bright colors and textile patterns.
These days, the UAE has adopted contemporary living spaces. Due to these living spaces, the furniture in the UAE is modernized to the point that people now have bedroom furniture, coffee tables, office furniture, comfortable sofas, and much more within the luxurious lifestyle.
What influences have shaped the design of furniture in the UAE?
The cultural influences have shaped the furniture design in UAE. For example, the Bedouin traditions used local raw materials from their desert environment, as mentioned above. With time, the Indian, Persian, and Islamic cultures and art styles brought new life to the UAE furniture market. These days, the luxurious and modern lifestyle reflects all, including the global demand for Emirati furniture designs.
What Types of furniture are popular in the UAE?
According to the research, the home furniture market size of UAE will be approximately USD 1.91 billion in 2023, and in 2028, it may go up to USD 2.31 billion. The growth rate is 3.91% from 2023 to 2028.
In UAE, people are spending their money on the renovation of homes, so a more considerable amount of the population is spending on kitchen furniture, bathroom furniture, etc. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, expats are more prominent in number (170) nationalities, that is why more residential buildings are under development and the furniture in the UAE is getting more advanced. According to experts and researchers, home furniture is the central area shaping the major market trends.
Kitchen Furniture of UAE:
In modern homes, living rooms are now treated as residential kitchens. It shows that people would love to eat in a well-hygienic environment. As consumers’ demand increases, they are having their ideas according to their preferences. That is why kitchen designs and types of furniture for the kitchen are now essential in the case of kitchen furniture designing. Customers are estimated to spend around AED 170,000 TO 420,000 on their kitchen furniture. Mostly, German and Italian styles of kitchens are in high demand with luxurious finishing.
The Bedroom Furniture of UAE:
The expatriates are multiplying in Dubai as the number of residential spaces increases. Bedroom furniture sales are also going along with it, and the sales of mattresses are also becoming a significant part of the furniture market. The furniture industry is interlinked with other aspects as well that helps in its development.
Which furniture items are essential in Emirati households?
Emirati tradition comprises a few sub-continent essence, Persians and Indians. The Emirati household has a few essential items in terms of furniture, such as:
The seating arrangements of their gatherings (Majlis) are central and straightforward. For their comfortability, they use sofas and floor cushions. It is the charm of their traditional social community. The coffee table is carved with pearl inlays. Wooden bed frames are in the essential bedroom furniture.
They have modern kitchens with modern styles and designs. The touch of western dining room furniture and traditional elements make their household elegant. Indoor furniture and outdoor furniture are two different styles. The outdoor furniture consists of comfortable seating.
How has Western influence affected furniture preferences?
The Western world has a significant influence all around the world. So, the furniture in the UAE has its style with some traditional and modern Western touch. Emiratis followed their tradition and kept their charms. At the same time, Western furniture gives a luxurious touch. Combinedly, they both provide excellent aesthetics.
By adopting Western-style furniture, which includes chairs, dining rooms, and dining tables. Due to changes in customer designs and culture, the Western world influences the UAE furniture preferences. American furniture and European furniture are famous due to the customer choices. American furniture added some more style to the Emirati furniture market.
What woods are commonly used for furniture in the UAE?
Following are the few woods used in furniture making in UAE. Such as:
Mahogany is one of the widespread types of wood. It is reddish brown, and it can resist swelling and warping and avoid shrinking. It is used in the quality piece, which includes veneers, cabinets, wood facing, and boat construction.
Cedar is also reddish and has a sweet odor. Western red is the most common variety of it. Cedar is one kind of wood that can be easy to work with. The texture is uniform, and it resists decaying. Outdoor projects use cedar for making decks and building exteriors because it will not rot and is stable in the moist conditions of the UAE. Cedar is suitable for patio furniture and decks.
Walnut is a hardwood textured and solid and of fine quality. The wood has the quality to resist warping and shrinking. The walnut is helpful regarding gunstocks, cabinets, veneered furniture, etc.
Cherry is one of the kinds of furniture that makes good chairs. It works well with the oil. It can redden when exposed to sunlight. It retains its charm with time. Heartwood and sapwood are reddish and boarding to white. The level of hardness of the cherry is 2. It is better to visit a lumberyard before choosing the cherry for your furniture.
Maple is one of the hardwood; the hard or the soft material is hard compared to others. The level of hardness of maple is 5. Simultaneously, it is easier to work with soft maple. Both types of maple are fine grain and more stable than others. They also have cheaper wood as compared to others. If you are looking for wooden chairs, woodenware, flooring, etc., maple wood is a better choice.
Spruce is lighter, and the wood finishes are better, with low resistance towards decaying. The usage of spruce is good in masts, aircraft, boxes, general millwork, etc.
Rosewood is dark reddish brown with furniture-smelling fragments. The unique scent of the wood makes it special. The ideal use of rosewood is in manufacturing musical treatments, art projects, piano cases, veneer furniture, etc.
Teak has a solid resistance to warping, cracking, and decaying. It is pretty rare these days, and the texture of the wood is oily, and the color is golden brown. Doors, panels, fine furniture, window frames, floor, etc. can be done with teak. It can produce high-quality material.
Pine has a wide range in white, sugar, yellow, and ponderosa. The texture of the wood is uniform, and it is straightforward to handle and work with. The finishing touch of the wood is fine, and it can resist the shrinking of the material along with swelling and warping. A wide selection of furniture can be formed from pine wood, including boxes, house construction, etc.
Fir doesn’t have good resistance to decay. It is non-resinous and has good finishing. It is also straightforward to work with; you can make windows, plywood, frames, veneer furniture, etc.
These are some of the most common wood used in furniture making in UAE, and if you are very well aware of the wood quality and characteristics, then it would be better for you to maintain your furniture.
Which local woods are preferred for furniture making?
Some native woods are used in the manufacturing of furniture in the UAE, like, for example, the Palm tree. As mentioned above, most of the types of wood for furniture making are imported from different regions of the world.
Some furniture manufacturing companies work with salvaged wood. It is an environmentally friendly approach and has some character to the furniture. In addition to solid woods, woods like MDF, medium-density fiberboard wood, and plywood are some of the local woods available in the UAE. The constructions are stable and versatile.
Are there any imported woods that are popular in the UAE?
UAE is in the desert, so finding a variety of woods in that region is challenging. Most of the furniture in the UAE is manufactured from imported wood. The timber wood is all imported to the UAE. The wood mentioned above, which are common woods in the construction of a wide variety of furniture like teak, oak, mahogany, etc., is the most common and imported wood used in furniture manufacturing.
How is the luxury furniture market positioned in the UAE?
UAE is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, as many communities are growing in it. The luxury furniture market in UAE depends upon both the manufacturer and the distributors. Those who are importing products from the countries are the ones dominating the furniture market. The local market is having tough competition in the furniture market, bringing new and versatile designs every year.
Most of the population is living areas, so luxurious furniture is in high demand. Companies are selling furniture online as well. More than 50% of the population lives in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. That is why you will find the most luxury brands and tourism in a wealthy country sector.
30% of the Middle East Luxury market has a Dubai contribution. According to a study, 30% of the population in Dubai spends their salary on luxury goods. UAE ranks 8th in the luxury market, where consumers utilize mid-market brands most.
What are the sustainability practices in the UAE’s furniture industry?
Wood is also used in the construction procedure, which is also used by the furniture in the UAE. The Emirates Green Building Council is an initiative that encourages the use of sustainable materials in the construction and design of buildings, and it will also impact the furniture industry of UAE in a way that furniture manufacturers need to move towards sustainable materials for their products.
How are furniture companies promoting sustainable practices?
The Furniture in UAE doesn’t directly participate in sustainable practices. Still, they are putting their efforts into collaboration with other industrial and government departments, like Dubai’s Carbon Abatement Strategy, whose main motive is to reduce the carbon emissions in Dubai through renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
Shifting towards renewable industry impacts the furniture industry, and they have to adopt more sustainable materials for furniture manufacturing for low carbon emission. There are a few sustainable events launched by the UAE where different companies have to bring sustainable products in the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Summit and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. These opportunities by the government will allow the furniture industries to make an effort and bring competition in the market through sustainable efforts.
Are there any initiatives to use reclaimed or recycled materials?
There is no direct initiative to use reclaimed or recycled material in the UAE. But FSC-certified furniture is the organization certifying the furniture that is not from wood or wood that is reused or recyclable. They promote the forest saving and livelihood of the native species of those forests.
They have their labels on those furniture products certified by the FSC organization. You can find them available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. There is no doubt that choosing the right furniture can be a daunting task but it’s better to choose the environmentally friendly FSC furniture or you can go for the expert advice regarding the right sustainable furniture.
They use other materials that can be reused and recycled and, at the same time, look aesthetically perfect. It is essential to promote sustainable furniture in the UAE; there are specific alternatives to adopt recycled materials and promote sustainable wood species like palm tree wood. Whether you are importing the raw material or utilizing the local one, it should be sustainable to promote the sustainable and environmentally-friendly furniture industry.
The UAE government is taking part in reusing and recycling in the construction industry. Still, they need to take part in promoting recycled material for the manufacturing of furniture in the UAE. On the government level, it’s better to promote the use of secondhand furniture and encourage the reuse and recycling of old furniture. Some people are looking to get the furniture in an affordable range. It will also reduce the carbon footprint
How does the UAE’s culture influence furniture designs?
The Arab culture dramatically influences the furniture in the UAE; you can find it in their home decoration and furniture designs. Arab use domes and arches in their construction, which can be seen in UAE interior designs. Doorways, light fixtures, etc., can come under the design of Arab culture. An ornate couch with a grand arch, isn’t it so royal?
The main features of the Arab designs are the carving and inlay works, and the materials are either gold or marble, mostly with royal designs and texture. The UAE culture isn’t only limited to furniture designs; the spaces and furniture arranged in UAE residences also reflect the UAE culture.
Due to the hospitable nature and culture of the UAE, you can see the designs of their homes according to the guest’s comfort. That is why you will find significant spacious areas in their homes, especially the living area; they have spacious living areas with plenty of seating furniture and seater sofas for the guests to accommodate perfectly.
They will have larger rooms and extra private spaces if you want alone time. Due to their hospitality, the houses of UAE are so spacious, and the furniture design is according to it. Even the hotels and the furniture designs of offices are also incorporated with the UAE culture. So, the UAE culture not only influences the furniture design but the infrastructure and construction of the building are also greatly influenced by the UAE culture.
Are there any traditional designs that are still prevalent?
The carving, grand architectural features, and ornate furniture are still trending in UAE, and not only this, you will get plenty of traditional designs as well as modern ones. The Arab designs are sophisticated and unique, and you will find that design in the residential areas of the UAE, especially the townhouses and villas.
Even the apartment has a more luxurious living room and furniture. So, if you want the royal touch for your living room, it’s better to get UAE furniture with the best design. And you can impress your guests with the hospitality and the structures of the furniture and houses according to the UAE culture.
How do modern designers incorporate Emirati culture?
Emirati culture still incorporates modern designs with a rich and traditional history. It has evolved and still has many carvings and sculptures in contemporary culture. The UAE is known and recognized worldwide for its Emirati tradition and culture. And it attracts the nation worldwide.
Few architectural designs incorporate Emirati tradition and modern designs in UAE, like the BARAJEEL, the wind tower, the courtyards, the residential apartments, cultural centers, etc., are examples of contemporary touch in Emirati culture. The materials used in manufacturing multiple designs are stone, gypsum, palmwood, etc., which reflect Emirati craft and art along with the sustainable use of resources.
The furniture in the UAE is also rich in traditional motifs and calligraphy with the textile work of geometrical patterns. Such expensive furniture touches in the UAE would bring a modern and Emirati touch and tradition.
One of the main features of the Emirati culture is the calligraphy, and the designers add great aesthetic sense and values. One of the main ingredients in any design is the product’s color. The Emirati designs are usually based on the natural environment, which gives a warm touch and tone with blue and white colors along with the earth, sky, and sea touch. This combination of colors is mainly used in the interior design or the furniture of various brands and fashions.
The cultural and religious events, which include Eid, National Day, and Dubai Shopping Festivals, also give the touch of Emirati culture with modern touches and designs. Lastly, the furniture in UAE also tries to have sustainable practices and proper ventilation and designs the structure in a practically sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
It is a sense of pride to have the Emirati culture in the furniture of UAE, designs, and infrastructure. With time, as technology evolves and new modern cultures are here, it’s better to have them. The UAE culture also helps to preserve the old traditions with the new ones.
What are the future trends in the UAE’s furniture market?
Furniture in the UAE is going more personalized in designs and going towards bespoke and customized furniture. The furniture designers and artisans work with the customer to deliver unique and one-of-a-kind work that provides individuality. People are looking for customized sofas, dining tables, and bedroom furniture. Other than that, the Dubai furniture market is going with traditional and contemporary elements. People are going with the trend of classic and antique modern styles. It perfectly balances old and new designs, incorporating the space and current design language.
Moreover, new trends of soft curve furniture are gaining popularity and are expected to come shortly with more advancement. The trends come from the straight lines and sharpness of the angles with gentle shapes and curves.
Curvaceous sofas, armchairs, rounded coffee tables, and ottomans have these curving in future designs and are more likely to increase soon. Future trends will affect the prints and patterns of the furniture designs. Where bold shapes, floral motifs, and polka dots are one in line. Mixing and matching are helpful to give a unique look to a room.
Lastly, the new trend that will be incorporated into UAE furniture design is sustainable and eco-friendly designs. Due to global and climate change, people are moving forward with sustainability. Wood, bamboo, and recycled plastics are gaining more demand and are likely to be fully in use soon without compromising the furniture’s style and look or the infrastructure.
These sustainable approaches have taken the initiative in the different departments of UAE. Now, people are encouraged to move towards vintage and antique pieces for a sense of history in the furniture industry. So, these trends will be seen in the coming year, and the furniture industry in UAE will grow more and more with the growth in the real estate industry.
How is technology influencing furniture design and functionality?
Dubai is undoubtedly growing and developing in all aspects, including technology that helps in the furniture in the UAE and its functionality. The automated recliners and the controlling lighting system technology are also getting along in the designs to provide more comfort and convenience to the people. Innovative furniture enhances the residence of the people by creating and personalizing the living space and providing a digital lifestyle.
Are there emerging styles or designs gaining popularity?
There are versatile emerging styles and designs that are popular in furniture designs in the UAE. For example, Mashrabiya screens give the essence of culture and royalty. Or the sleek sofa with the wooden work, which is one of the famous trends.
These days, multifunctional furniture is one of the most prominent designs in the Dubai market, gaining attention from all over the UAE. Due to the new designs, the emerging styles gained more popularity, resulting in interior designing landscapes.The furniture in the UAE can have the emerging and versatile styles of Arab culture with modernized techniques. It can fulfill purposes other than just a specific piece of furniture without compromising the style. That is what multifunctional furniture does, and the emerging styles enhance the popularity of the design.