Interview: Rafia Helal Bin Drai

14 Nov 2011

Ahlan! talks to the creator of some the UAE’s most stylish abayas

Abayas vary greatly in their quality, but anyone looking for the best should look no further than Mauzan.

Meaning “a rare pearl”, Mauzan develops the traditional Abaya into an elegant, comfortable and beautiful garment that a modern woman can wear with grace and style, and made with nothing but the absolute best materials in the world.

The brains and creativity behind the fashion label is Rafia Helal Bin Drai and she must be doing something right as she was recently named designer of the year at the L’Officiel Middle East Arab Woman of the Year Awards.

Famous for her signature cuts and colours, Rafia believes it’s her expertise in developing a basic Abaya into a fashion statement that sets her apart from other designers in her field. She said, “My belief in classic yet cosmopolitan designs resulted in my own new style of Abaya which makes any woman feel comfortable, elegant and feminine throughout the day. Incorporating the finest fabrics, which are sourced from France, Italy and Switzerland, I enjoy using lace, silk and other soft fluid fabrics in my designs which lend grace and distinction to Mauzan garments.”

Rafia started her career as a hobby designing Abayas for herself, but it wasn’t long before her designs began to get noticed by her friends and she created her own fashion house. She explained, “The graceful silhouettes of my creations attracted the attention of women. Thus, my clientele grew and my creative process was initiated.”

Luckily for a CEO of a fashion powerhouse, Rafia studied business, completing a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Business Administration. She opened her first boutique in Al Ain in 1990, and Mauzan quickly expanded. She now has five shops located throughout the UAE, one in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain and two in Dubai, with another major opening on the way, and she employs over 150 highly skilled seamstresses in her factory.

Mauzan comprises of three signature collections – Mauzan, Mauzan Exclusive and Miss Mauzan. Rafia explains the difference, “Mauzan remains one of the main lines with bespoke and prêt-a-porter styling, individuality and sophisticated elegance. Mauzan Exclusive creates haute couture and limited edition pieces. Miss Mauzan was developed as a casual line for our younger clientele.”

Rafia now hopes to expand her brand internationally. She said, “I aspire to expand the Mauzan brand internationally and to introduce shoes, bags, and various other accessories to my fashion line.” To find out more visit

Rafia's Top 5 UAE Places

1. Zest Restaurant in One&Only The Palm, Jumeirah
It’s classy, the view is amazing, and the atmosphere is warm and cosy.

2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
It’s very artistic and architecturally designed. I also love the colours of the carpets.

3. Jumeirah Beach in Dubai
The clean shore and sounds of the beach gives a relaxed feeling. It makes me feel so dreamy, as if I’m watching a full moon.

4. Heritage Old Souk in Al Ain
Where all of the fresh products from Al Ain farms are sold.

5. Qasr Al Sarab Resort in Liwa (in the winter time)
It has amazing sand dunes built in the middle of the dessert. It’s one of the best five star resorts in the UAE.