What to Wear in Dubai


Probably the most asked question by travelers to Dubai and the other United Arab Emirates is ‘what to wear?’. ‘Do I need to cover my hair?’. ‘Can I wear a bikini on the beach or at a waterpark in Dubai?’. ‘Can I wear a short dress at a shopping mall in Abu-Dhabi?’ ‘Can I wear shorts in Dubai?’…

Women are usually the ones who seek advice, but men should also inform about the local habits as they too might need to wear long trousers, a shirt, and closed shoes on some occasions…

This simple what-to-wear guide should help you pack and feel more at ease when traveling to Dubai, UAE. 

Dubai is actually very relaxed and open-minded when it comes to clothing. As the public is very international, so is the clothing. You will see people wearing all imaginable sorts of clothing in Dubai – from shorts and sleeveless t-shirts to burqa's. But don’t forget that it’s a Muslim country and you are a guest. So once again – if in doubt, always go for the ‘safer’ choice.

Dress code for hotels, restaurants and malls:

Most malls, restaurants, and hotels in Dubai ask customers to ‘dress modestly’ and advise to cover your knees and shoulders. However, we have seen many people who didn’t fit this description and nobody really seemed to be bothered. As long as you stay in the very touristic places (hotels, malls…), you can pretty much wear whatever you want in Dubai. The rules might be enforced more strictly if you visit during the Ramadan, so keep this in mind.

Most upmarket restaurants require that men wear long trousers and closed shoes; women can wear sandals at any time.

What to wear at the beach, pool or water parks:

Any type of beachwear from bikini to full-cover Islamic swimsuits are allowed at all beaches, pools, and waterparks. The only rule at Dubai beaches and waterparks is no nudity.

What to wear to Mosques, Souks and rural areas:

In the old part of Dubai where the traditional markets like Spice Souk or Gold Souk are located, you will be surrounded by many more locals and Muslims from other countries than expats or tourists from the West. You will be much more at ease and avoid the stares if you will dress more conservatively. If you are planning to go to some rural areas in the Emirates or visit a mosque, you should better leave sleeveless blouses and shorts at the hotel. Covered arms and legs for both men and women are advisable, and women have to also cover their hair inside the mosque. The mosques that allow non-muslim visits, usually provide appropriate clothing if needed.

What to wear on a desert safari:

One of the most popular tourist activities outside the city is visiting the desert. I would recommend wearing trousers, shorts, or capri trousers (no skirts or mini shorts) and a t-shirt or a blouse. Don’t forget sun protection! Normally, it’s very hot in the desert, so wear light clothes that protect you from the sun. It can turn chilly in the evening so you may want to slip a cardigan or sweater in your bag if your trip includes dinner. 


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