Are you wondering what to wear in Dubai? Have questions about the Dubai dress code? As someone who as lived in the UAE I can tell you from personal experience exactly what you can wear in Dubai to meet dress code rules as well as in specific places such as Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Beaches and more.
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Dubai Dress Code Overview
Whenever you are traveling in the Middle East you will find that there are strict dress codes that must be adhered to. That is because Dubai, an Emirate in the UAE, is a Muslim country which has laws regarding attired. So what are the Dubai Dress Code rules?
Compared to other places in the Middle East such as Abu Dhabi and Qatar, you will see more lax attire. However that does not mean there are not dress code rules.
Dubai is less conservative than Qatar and Abu Dhabi however there are still rules about what you should and shouldn’t wear.
So what are the Dubai Dress Code rules?
Dubai Dress Code Rules
The general rules for the Dubai dress code for both men and women is
- Keep your shoulders covered
- Keep your knees covered
- Nothing overly revealing.
- Nothing see through or tight.
And it is important to note that the Dubai Dress Code rules don’t apply solely to women. For some reason people mistakenly think the rules about clothing in Dubai applies to woman and not men. However this is not the case.
The rules apply equally to men and women.
Dubai Dress Code Rules for Children
The only real exception to the Dubai Dress code is children who have not yet hit puberty. However given the weather in Dubai you may want to keep them covered as an extra method of sun protection.
Exceptions to this Dubai Dress Code
And the thing about the Dubai Dress Code is that it applies to public spaces in Dubai. However the rules are slightly different on private property such as other peoples homes and at 5* hotel properties and resorts.
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 and I always urge on the more modest side in Dubai as there are likely to be locals here. For this reason I adhere to the dress code even in hotel grounds.
Next read: For information on where to stay in Dubai with a family check out this post!
Also I will say that as you are wandering around Dubai you will see people breaking the rules. Dubai is a tourist city and not every visitor is respectful of the local culture and dress code. However I personally always stick to the rules regarding clothing and advise any other visitor to Dubai to be modest in their dress too!
Next Read: Dubai Vs Abu Dhabi – a Comparison Guide
Other Considerations for What to Wear in Dubai
Dubai being in the Middle East only really experiences two seasons, Summer and Winter.
Winter in Dubai is not like Winter in Europe or USA.
The temperatures in Dubai in Winter are very pleasant hovering in the 20Cs and you can do many outdoor activities at this time.
However if you are visiting Dubai in summer you will experience in the 40sC. Therefore you need to ensure you pack for the right weather. This means:
Natural Fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk are great choices when traveling to hot weather destinations. They are more breathable and reduce sweat so they are a great choice particularly for those visiting Dubai in Summer.
One thing you will find out about Dubai is that although you can be in 40C weather, you will discover that the air conditioning is fierce.
I always carry a pashmina or cardigan for indoor venues in Dubai because of how fierce the air condition is.
What Not to wear in Dubai
Things that I would not add to your Dubai Packing List for public spaces include:
- Strappy tops – shoulders should be kept covered at all times.
- Shorts – knees should be kept covered when in public but are ok in hotels.
- Crop tops – midriffs should be kept covered.
- See Through Attire and Visible Underwear – against the Dress code rules.
- Graphic or Offensive Slogan Tees – as well as specific clothes you can and can’t wear you should be mindful of any graphics or text on the tees that could cause offensive.Clothing should remain family friendly.
What to Wear in Dubai
So now you know what the Dubai Dress code rules how does this translate into specifics outfits and what to wear in Dubai.
In this section we will advise on what to wear in Dubai for female tourists, men and kids.
What to Wear in Dubai For Women
The truth is that any outfit for Dubai you select as a woman should adhere to the Dubai dress code. This means that you need to keep your shoulders and knees covered when out in public and also not have anything see-through or overly revealing.
Whenever we visit Dubai, no matter the month or season we recommend adding the below items to your Dubai capsule wardrobe.
A Maxi skirt is always on my Dubai packing list. Maxi skirts are a great modest but cool piece of clothing providing that there isn’t an overly high slit that reveal your knee.
Again anything that is Maxi in length is a great choice for Dubai. Just be mindful that there isn’t a slit that reveals your knee or higher.
We recommend selecting a t shirt style Maxi Dress as this will keep your shoulders covered without having to add a cardigan or pashmina.
If you are looking for advice on travelling to Dubai while pregnant then check out this post.
For any trip to Dubai whatever time of year you are traveling we recommend taking a pashmina.
This is for two reasons:
- if you suddenly discover your outfit is not modest enough this can be used to add modesty
- it can be used as an extra layer when the air conditioning in malls, cinemas and other Dubai indoor venues is too strong and you start to feel chilly.
T Shirts, are a perfect accompaniment to a maxi skirt or cool loose trousers for walking around the city and for in the desert.
There are lots of amazing beaches and waterparks in Dubai to enjoy as well as lots of hotel pools. Although the resort pools don’t have as strict a rule regarding dress code I personally prefer a one piece over a bikini.
If you are on a resort beach however you can where whatever swimwear you like. In public spaces you will need slightly more conservative attire.
Swimwear is fine to wear in Dubai on beaches and in the pools however you will need a cover when you are walking around the boardwalk and for restuarants and bars etc.
What to Wear in Dubai Men
So what should men wear in Dubai? Well the first thing you need to remember is to keep your shoulder and knees covered.
Things I would advise you adding the below items to your Dubai Packing list for men
To keep your knees covered for certain public places but keep cool we recommend wearing lightweight cotton pants. Chinos are a great choice for Winter and at night for men.
And in summer linen trousers are another great option.
T Shirts are appropriate throughout Dubai for men.
Longer Length Shorts
While at hotels and on the beach shorter length shorts are fine, we recommend packing a long length pair for certain public places.
While T shirts are appropriate in most public places, button down shirts should be added to your packing list if you plan on eating at some of Dubai’s fine dining establishments.
Best Shoes for Dubai
Sneakers are a go to shoe for me in Dubai. They are great for being outside and walking around the malls where you will be surprised about how steps you can rack up.
And if you plan to do any exercise in the desert in the form of sand sports such as sand surfing and camel riding, you may be required to wear closed toe shoes for safety. In which case sneakers are the best choice of shoes.
Sandals are another great choice for Dubai whether you are traveling in Winter or Summer. The temperatures in Dubai never drop enough to warrant packing boots so closed toe or open toe sandals are a great choice for both day and night in Dubai.
I wouldn’t advise wearing flip flops around the city as they don’t offer much support and in the desert they don’t protect your feet from hot sand etc.. However if you are spending time on the beach or round the pool then flip flops should definitely make your packing list.
Specific Dubai Dress Codes
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 or Burkina – whatever you feel most comfortable in when at beaches and pools that are at hotels etc.
However if you are on a public beach I would select a more modest piece of swimwear and cover up once off the beach and out of the water. Certainly I would keep a beach cover with you for on the board walk and at restaurants and bars.
Burj Khalifa Dress Code
The Burj Khalifa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai. I would say stick to the same dress code here that you would for Dubai Mall as these attractions are adjacent.
However if you plan on having afternoon tea up at Atmosphere then you will need smarter clothes.
What to Wear in the Desert in Dubai?
The Desert can be a difficult place to dress for no matter the time of year you visit.
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!
In the Winter, the day temperatures can be cooler too so be sure to pack your layers then too.
Also if you plan on doing some of the sand sports such as sand boarding you will need closed toe shoes such as sneakers.
FAQs About Dubai Clothing
So now we have told you what to add to your Dubai packing list and specific Dubai dress code we will answer all the frequently asked questions that our readers have asked over the years.
And if you have a question that is not covered here please drop it in the comments below and we will do our best to answer your question as quickly as possible!
Can you wear shorts in Dubai?
Wearing shorts in Dubai isn’t strictly prohibited but the answer to whether you can wear in Dubai depends on the length of the short.
Men and women both should keep their knees covered when in public so only long shorts are permitted.
So if you are wondering if shorts should cover the knees in Dubai the answer is absolutely yes unless at 5* hotels where you can wear shorts but I would always remember to be mindful of culture and be sure you adhere to the clothing rules whilst travelling to and from these.
Can you wear skinny jeans in Dubai?
There is no rule specifically against wearing skinny jeans in Dubai and you will see them often in places such as the Dubai Mall.
Having said that I personally avoid them, as I find them to be uncomfortable in the desert heat.
Do you have to wear a hijab in Dubai?
One of the things that I am most frequently asked is “Do you have to wear a hijab in Dubai?” And the answer is that you absolutely do not have to wear a hijab in the UAE.
The only place in the UAE where you will be required to cover your head is in religious places such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Is the Dubai dress code for foreigners different to residents or citizens?
In short no! The Dubai dress code for tourists is the same as for anyone else in country.