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What to wear in Dubai

What to wear in Dubai

I’ve lived in the Middle East on and off for many years! Still after all this time the main questions I get about my life or the concerns of people coming to visit undoubtedly revolve around clothing – especially for ladies! In this guide I will talk you through the etiquette, cultural norms and expectations to help you known exactly what to wear in Dubai!

By comparison to other places I’ve lived in the Middle East ( Abu Dhabi and Doha Qatar in particular), Dubai is less conservative in many respects however there are still strict legal rules about what can be worn in country. For me when I travel I always want to be respectful of the local culture as well! So as such the general dress code rules for visiting Islamic countries are:

What to Wear in Dubai / Dubai Dress Code

What Should Women Wear in Dubai

  • Always keep shoulders and knees covered.
  • Don’t have too much cleavage
  • Although tightness isn’t against the rules I always like to keep to the spirit of the guidance rather than look for loopholes. I therefore avoid wearing overly tight clothing (Not that I ever really wore tight stuff to begin with).

If you are looking for advice on travelling to Dubai while pregnant then check out this post. 

What Should Men Wear in Dubai

  •  Keep shoulders and knees covered

What Should Children Wear in Dubai

Young children its all about dressing for the weather. The shoulder and knee rules don’t

apply. But the main concern when dressing children in the Middle East is the heat and sub burn!

Exceptions to this Dubai Dress Code

Whenever you are in the grounds of a 5* hotel you can wear whatever you want. Short, tight, straps, strapless, bikini you name it! However it is best to be mindful if you are traveling in between places!

For information on where to stay in Dubai with a family check out this post! 

However having said this, Dubai being the most liberal of all the Gulf cities, and given the wealth of tourists that visit Dubai means that you will see people not abiding by these rules. My personal choice is to always try and be respectful so I always try  to adhere to the above rules however if you are going to the main sights you will see many people in shorts and scrappy tops but I would not advise on doing this!

Next Read: Dubai Vs Abu Dhabi – a Comparison Guide

What to Wear in Dubai During Ramadan

While there aren’t any additional guidelines for 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.

Dubai 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 Dubai. As such you will see a huge variety of clothing from shorts and t shirts to burqas. I would recommend sticking to the dress code at these public places and even at the large Dubai tourist attractions such as the Burj Khalifa

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.

Next Read: Tips for Visiting the Burj Khalifa

What to Wear at Pools and the Beach in Dubai?

When you are at a hotel pool or beach, anything goes – barring nudity! So feel free to pack your bikini!

What to Wear in the Desert in Dubai?

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!

What to Wear in Dubai – My Dubai 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 Dubai / Dubai Dress Code Tip

But perhaps my number one tip for what to wear Dubai 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.

Further UAE Reading 

Dubai vs Abu Dhabi which should you visit? 


Dubai with Kids Guide 

Tips for visiting the Burj Khalifa 

Motiongate Dubai Review 

Conrad Dubai Review 

What to Wear in Dubai 

Abu Dhabi 

Most Beautiful Places in Abu Dhabi 

Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque!