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What to wear in Abu Dhabi

What to wear in Abu Dhabi

Even though when we moved to Abu Dhabi, I had already spent four years in the Middle East still the first thing I got asked about, still,  was the dress code in this Muslim country! Would I have to wear a headscarf? Did I have to keep me hair covered? Would I be able to wear a bikini at the pool or beach in Abu Dhabi? The questions went on! I think this stems from people genuinely not wanting to offend when they travel so in this guide I will round up everything you need to know about what to wear in Abu Dhabi!

I have previously written about what to wear in different Middle Eastern cities, most notably Dubai and also Doha in Qatar! This Abu Dhabi what to wear guide in a way sits part way between the two with Dubai being slightly more liberal when it comes to attire, and Qatar being the more conservative in dress code terms.

What to Wear in Abu Dhabi / Abu Dhabi Dress Code

What Should Women Wear in Abu Dhabi

  • Knees and shoulders should be kept covered at all times
  • Cleavage should be kept to a minimum
  • Tight clothing are not as such prohibited but I would advise not wearing anything overly tight – especially when visiting religious places such as the Grand Mosque!

What Should Men Wear in Abu Dhabi

  •  Keep shoulders and knees covered

What Should Children Wear in Abu Dhabi

Young children are not bound by the same rules as adults. Therefore you don’t need to be as concerned about what to pack for children except for making sure everything is sun safe!

Exceptions to this Abu Dhabi Dress Code

The main exceptions to Middle East dress code are:
  1. In the grounds of  a 5* hotel! You can wear whatever you want in the Western 5* hotels. Short, tight, straps, strapless, bikini you name it – these are all permitted.! However please be aware of your clothing if you are transiting between places
In the UAE, especially Dubai you will see people not following the rules however I would advise you to follow all laws etc surrounding the appropriate dress code!

What to Wear in Abu Dhabi During Ramadan


While there aren’t any special rules for clothing during Ramadan, I always err on the more conservative side! Ramadan is all about abstinence and restraint so I try and adhere to everything a little more closely.

The same is true for visiting religious sites at any time of year – the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must for any visitor to Abu Dhabi! We have a full what to wear guide and top tips for visiting this site which you can read HERE!

Abu Dhabi Dress Code at Malls, Hotels and restaurants

The Hotels and Malls are some of the most westernized but also international places you will visit in Abu Dhabi. As such you will see a huge variety of clothing from shorts and t shirts to burqas., If you do want to wear shorts and t shirts here, you won’t be on your own!

However if you plan to visit some of the more traditional areas such as the creek and certainly if you are heading into other Emirates, I would advice dressing more moderately!

In higher end restaurants, generally shorts are not permitted for men or women.

What to Wear at Pools and the Beach in Abu Dhabi

Basically if you are a beach club or a pool in Abu Dhabi then you are free to wear whatever you like. The only rule you have to adhere is that there is absolutely no nudity or semi-nudity. 

For a full list of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi click here! 

What to Wear in the Desert in Abu Dhabi?

Baby's First Holiday - Dubai

The Desert can be a difficult place to dress for! During the day, the desert is extremely hot but at night the temperatures plummet. So if you are going to be in the desert for sundown and certainly if you plan to do a desert safari and camp overnight  then you will want to pack lots of layers as it is amazing how quickly the temperature drops as soon as the sun goes down!

What to wear in Doha

In the Winter, the day temperatures can be cold too so be sure to pack your layers then too! For a complete guide to visiting Abu Dhabi in Winter check out this post.

What to Wear in Abu Dhabi – My Abu Dhabi Style

I’m all about loose and comfortable clothing. The summers can get to up to 50 degrees so you really need to dress for the heat.
My number one wardrobe item has to be the Maxi dress! I have a whole wardrobe full of them! I try and pick ones that are made of a lightweight cotton, are loose and flowy and aren’t too low or tight!
Maxi skirts are my next favourite. Loose and flowing I feel like they are the perfect clothing for the Middle East. They can be made to look casual or fancy depending on where you are going!
Tshirts are also always great for a casual day out but be sure to by ones that have more than just cap sleeves! Alternatively, a nice cotton or linen blouse are a staple of my Middle Eastern wardrobe!
In many respects the most important thing to consider, after areas that the outfit covers is the fabric its made of! Man made fabrics are not your friend in the hot desert country. Look for cottons, silks and linens. Loose cotton trousers are one of the staples in my wardrobe!
What to Wear in Doha / what to wear in Dubai

Number One What to Wear in Abu Dhabi / Abu Dhabi Dress Code Tip

But perhaps my number one tip for what to wear Abu Dhabi is always carry a pashmina. It is great if you need to cover up more, for in air conditioning – which can be fierce in the malls  and is great for those cold desert nights.