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).
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!
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 and this doesn’t tend to be a problem!
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., 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 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?
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!
In the Winter, the day temperatures can be cold too so be sure to pack your layers then too!