WHAT TO WEAR IN DUBAI – DRESS CODE FOR WOMEN AND MEN

DUBAI DRESS CODE FOR WOMEN AND MEN – WHAT TO WEAR

Are you heading to this exciting city and are wondering about what to wear in Dubai? Then this post is for you – I share my experiences and knowledge about the dress code in Dubai for women and men.

Whether you are male or female, here is what you should know about what to wear in Dubai – a relatively modern yet still conservative and Islamic city (Emirate).

How to Dress as Women in Dubai Clothes to wear in Dubai
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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I might earn a small commission when you buy a product via my link (no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Women Dress Code in Dubai 

So, we start with what to wear in Dubai as a woman, which is a bit more tricky than answering the question of what to wear as a man.

In general, the Dubai dress code is not as strict as in some other cities/countries, e.g. Saudi Arabia. It isn’t even as strict as in Sharjah – a city/emirate next to Dubai. However, it is still not as westernized as some people might think after looking at pictures of “influencers” in Dubai.

There are some things visitors should know.

  • In Dubai, most people are foreigners, so there are only a few Emiratis. These foreigners are tourists and people who work there, and they have had a great impact on the Dubai dress code.

I always read that you are not supposed to wear too revealing clothes, but actually, I have seen all of them.

  • Read this post for more information on What to pack for Dubai and buy, if necessary, some clothes/items before your trip.

Can Women Wear What They Want in Dubai?

Yes and no. Keep reading to find out.

P.S. The red Arabian dress I am wearing in the picture at the top was not compulsory. I just thought it was so pretty, and so I wore it.

Do I Have to Wear a Scarf in Dubai?

Though the United Arab Emirates are clearly Islamic, (foreign) women do not have to cover up and can wear more or less those clothes they feel comfortable in – to a certain extent.

So, no need to wear a headscarf/cover your hair (exception for a few places I mention later).

What to Wear in Dubai at the Beach/Pool Area

What can women wear in Dubai at the beach? Dubai is a lot about beaches and pools, and thus, make sure to plan some time in your Dubai itinerary and pack the right clothes.

  • At the beach/hotel pool, women can wear bikinis or bathing suits. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still quite liberal. Some other Emiratis aren’t.
  • However, being topless, of course, is not allowed.

Why is Dubai better
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And here are some clothes to wear in Dubai. These items are great for your day at the beach and pool in Dubai:

  • I am in love with kaftans – a perfect item for the beach, and it is great if you go back to the hotel/restaurant, etc., as bikinis are not liked to be seen in the hotel itself.
  • A bikini, burkini, or any swimsuit should not be missing on your Dubai packing list for some lazy days at the beach (probably do not take the smallest bikini you have).
  • You can also take some shorts and tops you can wear if you leave the beach/pool area.

Itinerary Day Tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
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What to Wear on Dubai´s Streets

Can I wear hot pants in Dubai? That is a question I have been asked many times.

When I left the hotel, I saw many people in the metro, cafes, and restaurants wearing hot pants, belly tops, skirts, and other such outfits – it is not forbidden. I assume that many won’t even care or look at you.

However, I felt uncomfortable showing too much skin when foreign workers, especially from countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan, were around. 

This was mostly the case in the metro, even though I normally am in the “women only compartment,” or in Deira (the old part of Dubai). There, staring and cat-calling are more common. I definitely dress more conservatively in Dubai Deira. So, I recommend thinking about how to dress.

These items are definitely a great choice for strolls in the beautiful Marina, the Palm, or many other parts of Dubai but also in conservative areas like Dubai Deira.

  • Maxi Dresses and dresses that cover your knees – with or without sleeves.
  • Skirts are good to wear, here you can go with long skirts or shorter ones, but I would not go for a mini skirt.
  • If the weather is not too hot, jeans are a great choice.
  • T-shirts and tank tops are fine for most places.
  • Shorts are okay. Hot pants not so much (even if you see many Instagrammers with hot pants, this is actually not always appropriate).

Dubai Dress Code for Dubai Malls/Restaurants etc.

There is a dress code if you go to Dubai Mall, saying that wearing too revealing outfits should be avoided. Ignoring it can lead to being asked to leave or change clothes.

After speaking to some locals, they confirmed that security has gotten a bit stricter – some tourists were told to follow the dress code (or they would not be allowed to enter the mall). However, many Europeans/foreigners don’t care. 

Arzo Travels dress code in Dubai
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Of course, you don’t have to wear a headscarf or long pants. Most malls have a well, not so strict, policy: naked shoulders are not allowed, and skirts/shorts have to be knee-length.

Many people, even expats living in Dubai, claim that there is no dress code and they have never heard of it, but I saw signs throughout the mall. Also, check out the official website of Dubai Mall and scroll down, there you will find some info on how to dress.

What to Wear in a Mosque in Dubai

The Dubai Dress Code in a mosque – actually in any mosque in the world – is strict. 

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Picture taken at the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi – dress code is the same for mosques in Dubai.

What do I have to wear in the mosque? Most mosques are not open to non-Muslims in Dubai. The Jumeirah Mosque can be visited and you might consider visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which is, by the way, the most beautiful building I have ever seen.

  • In case you actually visit any mosque, you have to wear long sleeves, cover your legs and have a scarf with you because you have to cover your head.
  • At the Grand Mosque (also known as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque), they offer free dresses/scarfs for the duration of your visit.

In this case, there is not much difference to churches, etc. – just a bit stricter. They take it very seriously, so there is no room for interpretation.

What to Wear in the Desert in Dubai

Dubai´s desert is an amazing destination, and though there is no strict dress code, I would like to mention a couple of things for visiting this part of Dubai.

The desert can get extremely hot in summer. And by extremely hot, I seriously mean extreme heat.

Once, I felt like ice in the sunshine, sweating all over. When I had the crazy to take off my sandals, I immediately burnt my feet. My tip: Do not take off your shoes in the desert on a hot day. It is a terrible idea!

It can get chillier in the evening, so take something to cover your shoulders (at least in fall, winter, and spring).

Abu Dhabi relax
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So, if visiting the desert take:

  • solid footwear
  • a (floppy) hat
  • a scarf and a cardigan (it can get chilly in the evening)
  • wear bright colors
  • wear loose clothing

EXTRA TIP: For great pictures, choose clothes that really pop. A yellow or red maxi dress or any other bright color will make you look even more stunning in pictures.

Men Dubai Dress Code

Good news for men visiting Dubai: rules are not as strict for men as for women. Bad news: You still can’t wear whatever you want – especially not wherever you want.

So, if you are wondering about the dress code in Dubai for men, this is what to know:

  • Men can wear western clothes, like jeans, sweatpants, and shorts. They can also wear singlets, flip-flops and summer clothes. However, if you want to be respectful and not attract negative attention (or worse), then avoid shorts that are very short (and end way higher than the knees), tops that hang too low, or any see-through shirts or pants.
  • Wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts that cover your knees (or at least, almost) is surely fine.
  • In the mosque, you normally have to wear long pants. 
  • If you are at the beach, you can go topless. But leave your “top-less time” only for the beaches and put a short on if you leave the beach area.
  • One exception would be to wear traditional Arab clothes. In Dubai, this means wearing an ankle-length, loose fitting garment made of white cotton, known as a kandora or dishdasha. Actually, the white color and loose fighting are perfect for hot days.

Conclusion: What to Wear in Dubai

Although Dubai is Islamic, it’s still quite liberal.

However, keep in mind the heritage and do not “overdo” it if you do not want to cause any problems and put a bad light on the foreigners.

When you visit the country during the holy month of Ramadan you must be extremely careful – during that time, the dress code is strict, and you should re-think your visit if you do not want to stick to it.

Other than that, it is acceptable to wear skirts, shorts and show some skin. Remember to respect the tradition of every country. But with this post, you have a good understanding of what to wear and the dress code for Dubai.

If you want to find out more about traveling to Dubai as a solo female traveler, check out my Dubai Solo Travel Guide.

So, there is a dress code for female and male visitors, and if you do not want to be a total jerk, try to adjust to it and respect the rules (which aren’t too strict, so it should not be too hard).

Important Travel Information for Dubai

Enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo
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