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

DRESS CODE FOR DUBAI – WHAT TO WEAR

Are you headed to Dubai 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 – 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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Women Dress Code in Dubai 

So, we start with what to wear in Dubai as women, which is a bit more tricky than for men. In general, the Dubai dress code is not as strict as in some other cities/countries,e.g., Saudi-Arabia, but it isn’t even as strict as in Sharjah – a city/emirate next to Dubai.

Can Women Wear What They Want in Dubai?

Yes and no. Keep reading to find out.

Do I Have to Wear a Scarf in Dubai?

First of all: Good news for most European etc. visitors. Though the United Arab Emirates are clearly Islamic, (foreign) women do not have to cover and can wear more or less those clothes they feel comfortable in – to a certain extent.

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

However, there are some things visitors should know. What can a woman wear in Dubai?

In Dubai, most people are foreigners, so there are only a few Emiratis. This means that most people are from abroad.

Foreigners are tourists and people who work there, causing a great impact on the Dubai dress code.

You can actually wear more or less whatever you desire. 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.

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 for your Dubai itinerary and pack the right clothes.

At the beach/hotel pool, women can wear bikinis or a bathing suit. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still quite liberal. Some other Emiratis aren’t. However, being topless, of course, is not allowed. And here are some clothes to wear in Dubai.

Why is Dubai better
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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 several 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, thus proving that it is not forbidden. I assume that many won’t even care or look at you.

However, I felt uncomfortable with foreign workers, especially if you use the metro or in the old part of Dubai, Deira. So, I would recommend thinking about how to dress and if you do not like much attention take a light scarf to cover your shoulders, etc.

A maxi dress should be totally fine for those who are bothered more by those looks.

These items are definitely a great choice for strolls in beautiful Marina, the Palm, or many other parts of Dubai.

  • Maxi Dresses (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 (skinny), jeans are a great choice
  • T-shirts and tank tops are fine for most the places
  • Shorts are okay, hot pants not so much (even if you see many Instagrammers with hot pants, this is actually not always appropriate)

Extra tip: If you visit the charming old part of Dubai, Deira, I will make sure to dress a bit more conservatively. I felt kind of uncomfortable with clothes that were fine in other parts of Dubai. If you head to this part, the recommendations for malls, etc., are probably a better choice.

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 and have heard about troubles. 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, though it might make more sense than wearing a skirt, especially when it is too hot. Most malls have a (well, not so strict) policy, and naked shoulders are not allowed, and skirts/shorts have to be knee-length.

One day, when I waited for the taxi at Dubai Mall, there was a girl about 12 or 13 years old who wore hot pants that you could see her butt coming out, and then, on the other side, there was a really young girl, who was about 9 or 10, wearing a headscarf.

The girl’s family in hot pants was talking about the girl wearing the scarf and how inappropriate it was to dress in such a way. I am not sure what was worse, actually.

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? There are not many mosques open to non-Muslims in Dubai, but you might consider visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi which is, by the way, the most beautiful building I have ever seen.

At the Grand Mosque (also known as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque), they offer free dresses/scarfs, and you are exactly told what you can and what you cannot wear.

You need to be aware that, 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.

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 – my feet were burning when I had the crazy idea to take off my sandals. It can get chillier in the evening, so take something to cover your shoulders (at least in fall, winter, and spring).

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

Abu Dhabi relax
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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 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 for 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.

At the mall, there might be strict rules, but signs will tell you. 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 top-less but leave your “top-less time” only for the beaches and no matter how hot it is, always wear two pieces (not sure about jumpers).

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.

Important Travel Information for Dubai

Dubai is a fun city to visit with great tours and activities to see – before you plan your trip to Dubai, check out visa regulations. If you fly with Emirates Airlines, check whether they are free shuttle activities and shuttle buses.

Dubai on a Budget – Click here to find some budget travel tips for Dubai

50 Best Things to Do in Dubai – There is so much to do and see in Dubai, and here my top 50 tips.

Where to Stay in Dubai – Then check out my Dubai accommodation guide with the best areas to stay in Dubai

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).

Enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo
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