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How to dress in Dubai

If you're visiting Dubai, you'll need to be very careful when packing your suitcase, as they have a strict dress code. Here's what you need to know

María Cano

María Cano

8 min read

How to dress in Dubai

Woman in Dubai | © Keira Burton

Dubai is a place where the dress code is very different from that of Europe. There are a number of items of clothing that are totally forbidden in certain places or establishments, and others that are not allowed at all. Mosques are the places with the most restrictions, but there are also certain hotels, restaurants and venues that have very serious etiquette.

Even so, it is important to bear in mind that Dubai is one of the most modern and westernised cities in this Islamic country. But even so, here are the most important things to bear in mind when packing your suitcase.

Should tourists wear traditional clothing in Dubai?

Traditional Dress in Dubai| ©Michael Coghlan
Traditional Dress in Dubai| ©Michael Coghlan

This is one of the main questions asked by all tourists visiting not only Dubai, but the UAE in general. In principle, tourists do not have to wear traditional dress. But even so, you should not overlook the fact that it is an Islamic country with a very strict dress code and therefore it is advisable to dress in classical clothing. In fact, women wear a black tunic, 'Abaya', and men wear a white tunic, 'Kandora'.

Even so, despite being in the Arab Emirates, Dubai is one of the most modern and westernised cities in the country, so there is a certain flexibility in this respect. In fact, it's quite common for people to wear designer clothes, and it's even more common in some of the more affluent hotels and restaurants. So, if you have a special outfit that you never get to wear, this is definitely the place.

  • Abaya: A black robe worn by women in Dubai.
  • Kandora: White tunic worn by men in Dubai.

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What are the best clothes for women in Dubai?

Women visiting the Dubai Desert| ©Denys Gromov
Women visiting the Dubai Desert| ©Denys Gromov

Women have the hardest time packing for their visit to Dubai, as the dress code is stricter for them, and there are a number of items of clothing that are more advisable than others. In addition, there are others that are not recommended at all.

Here are some of the clothes you should avoid on your visit to Dubai:

  • Shorts: Avoid shorts or, if you wear them, make sure they are just above the knee, never shorter.
  • Hip-lengthtrousers: Avoid trousers that sit low on the hips or are low-waisted and in any way show underwear.
  • Cleavage: T-shirts or blouses with cleavage are frowned upon and should be avoided.
  • Transparent clothes: Avoid any transparent garment, be it blouses, shirts or dresses.

On the other hand, there are certain garments that you may think are not appropriate, but on the contrary they are accepted and they are the following:

  • Dresses: Women can wear long-sleeved, short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses, but always up to the knee.
  • Sleeveless blouses: Women can wear sleeveless blouses, but it is advisable to have a scarf or foulard at hand because in certain places they cannot go with their shoulders uncovered.
  • Shorts: Women can wear short trousers, but always at the knee or the popular "pirates".
  • Leggins: Leggins may be worn, but only if they are complemented by knee-length dresses or long shirts.
  • Swimsuits: Swimsuits are acceptable for beaches and swimming pools, but they should be as discreet as possible. They should be conservative pieces and Brazilian knickers or thongs are not recommended.

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What is the best clothing for men in Dubai?

Men in a shop in Dubai| ©Jens Cederskjold
Men in a shop in Dubai| ©Jens Cederskjold

Unlike women, men have more freedom when it comes to dress and there are no items of clothing that are forbidden as such. However, it is recommended that they always dress appropriately and smartly. Here are some of the main tips to follow:

  • Shirts: It is more advisable to wear shirts as they are always more elegant.
  • Shorts: In principle they can wear shorts, but there are many establishments where shorts are not allowed.
  • Trainers: As with shorts, there are certain establishments where you are not allowed to wear trainers.

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What are the best clothes to wear in Dubai depending on the weather?

Packing your suitcase| ©Vlada Karpovich
Packing your suitcase| ©Vlada Karpovich

The first thing we always think about when packing our suitcase, no matter where we go, is what clothes to choose for our trip, what is the best one to wear for our photos, the most suitable in relation to the climate... And obviously, although when packing our suitcase to go to Dubai we have to take other issues into account, this is one that we should not overlook.

Dubai is a city where temperatures are very extreme. For this reason, it is advisable to wear linen or cotton clothes, as they are not only very comfortable, but also suitable for such high temperatures. Likewise, due to the scorching summer sun, it is also advisable to be fully covered to avoid sunburn. If it is very hot, try to wear light clothing over your T-shirt, such as over-shirts or similar garments. In addition, there are a number of essential accessories:

  • Linen or cotton fabrics.
  • Covered clothing.
  • Hats or caps.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Scarves or foulards.

In any case, consider the best time to travel to Dubai before you make your trip, as this will determine the quality of your experience, regardless of whether or not you are wearing the right clothing.

What are the main accessories for your trip to Dubai?

On the one hand, it's essential to bring a head covering, as the high temperatures and scorching sun in Dubai are the best way to avoid sunstroke and headaches that can spoil an intense day of sightseeing. Sunglasses will also make you feel more comfortable in the middle of the day as the sun can be very uncomfortable for your eyes.

It is always a good idea to carry a scarf or foulard, especially for women, as it can sometimes get you out of trouble when entering a mosque or other establishment with stricter dress codes. You can cover your shoulders or your hair.

Women should pack a pair of high heels in case they go to a club or similar establishment, and men should wear elegant shoes and not just the usual trainers.

Traveller's tip

My recommendation is to wear clothes from the shoulders to the knees, especially for women, so that they don't have any problems when entering any monument, restaurant or establishment.

What is the dress code at the mosques in Dubai?

Woman at the Mosque| ©Fotografiandoviajes
Woman at the Mosque| ©Fotografiandoviajes

One of the strictest places to dress in Dubai are the mosques. Access to these temples is subject to a number of dress codes and recommendations.

These limitations are mainly for women and are related to the fact that shoulders and hair cannot be uncovered. Here is some advice:

  • Length: The main garment, whether it is a dress, skirt or trousers, must be long.
  • Neckline: A woman may not enter a mosque with a low neckline, so it is always recommended to wear a relatively high collar or a garment over the neckline.
  • Waist covering: Women should avoid wearing any garment low on the hips, whether trousers or skirt, in a way that exposes the waist, as it is strictly forbidden to wear this part of the body uncovered.
  • Shoulders and back always covered: Women are not allowed to enter a mosque with their shoulders uncovered, so it is advisable for them to wear an overshirt, scarf, shawl or foulard to cover their shoulders.
  • Head covering: Every woman who enters a mosque is given a shayla, a headscarf-like garment to wear on her head.

However, there are certain mosques, especially the more touristy ones, where if you are not dressed appropriately, you will be offered free of charge the appropriate clothing to enter. Be sure to visit the post Best Mosques in Dubai and learn about the must-see temples that you should visit on your trip.

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What is the dress code in public places in Dubai?

People Visiting the Souk| ©César González Palomo
People Visiting the Souk| ©César González Palomo

The list of things to see and do in Dubai is extensive, as is the dress code. Public places in Dubai, such as events, festivals, restaurants, hotels, souks, parks, shopping centres and the metro, do not have a strict dress code, but they do have a series of recommendations, which are always higher for women. In fact, it may be the case that a security person may ask a woman to cover up.

As I have mentioned throughout this post, the basic rule is that a woman should be covered from the shoulders to the knees. Therefore, it is most comfortable to wear a scarf, shawl, overshirt or jacket to cover your shoulders and always wear long trousers, skirt or dress. Another very comfortable garment to wear is a jumpsuit.

Even so, as Dubai is such a westernised city, you will also see women wearing shorts and mini-skirts, but it is not the most advisable and it always depends on the area of the city you are in, as there are more traditional neighbourhoods and others that are more touristy and do not pay attention to this type of issue.

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What is the dress code for going to the beach or pool in Dubai?

People enjoying the beach in Dubai| ©Keith Parker
People enjoying the beach in Dubai| ©Keith Parker

When visiting a beach, hotel pool or doing an activity such as jet skiing in Dubai, jetpacking in Dubai or flyboarding in Dubai, women are allowed to wear a swimming costume, but it should be discreet. In other words, it is always better to wear a swimming costume rather than a bikini, and if you opt for a bikini, it is recommended that it be as covered as possible.

Also avoid Brazilian knickers and thongs. The bigger the bikini bottom, the better the view. In fact, it can be very uncomfortable for a woman to be noticed for this reason.

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Which neighbourhoods in Dubai have the strictest dress code?

Deira neighbourhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut
Deira neighbourhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut

Before you leave your hotel and start your daily sightseeing day with Dubai Explorer Pass you need to think carefully about what to wear for the day. To do this, plan your day in advance and find out which are the most traditional neighbourhoods and where, therefore, you will have to follow a stricter dress code, especially if you are a woman.

To do this, you can read the post article Dubai's neighbourhoods you need to know, but let me tell you that these include the Deira area , Global Village and The Miracle Garden. If you go to any of these areas, as well as to any of the mosques, you should ideally wear knee-length clothing on that day.

Now you know how to dress anywhere in Dubai. Now don't hesitate to check out our article on the best tours and excursions in Dubai and enjoy yourself in style - what are you waiting for?

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