How to dress in Dubai

If you visit Dubai you have to be very careful when packing your suitcase, as they have a strict dress code. Here is all 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 the European one. There are a number of garments that are totally forbidden in certain places or establishments and others that are not even allowed. Mosques are the places with the most restrictions, but there are also certain hotels, restaurants or places that have a very serious protocol.

Even so, it is important to keep in mind that Dubai is one of the most modern and westernized cities in this Islamic country. But, even so, I will tell you the most important things to keep 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 that it is a country of Islamic origin that has a very strict dress code and, therefore, it is advisable to dress in classic clothes. In fact, women wear a black tunic, "Abaya"; and men wear a white tunic, "Kandora".

Even so, and despite being in the Arab Emirates, it must also be said that Dubai is one of the most modern and westernized cities in the country, so there is some flexibility in this regard. In fact, it is very common for people to wear branded clothing and it becomes the most common in certain hotels and restaurants with high purchasing power. So, if you have a special outfit that you never manage to make the most of, this is definitely the place.

  • Abaya: Black tunic worn by women in Dubai.
  • Kandora: White tunic worn by men in Dubai.

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What is the most advisable clothing for women in Dubai?

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

Those who have the hardest time packing for their visit to Dubai are undoubtedly women, as the dress code is stricter for them, and there are a number of clothes that are more advisable than others. In addition, there are others that are not recommended.

Below, I will tell you what clothes you should avoid during your visit to Dubai:

  • Shorts: Avoid shorts or in the case that you wear them that the length is just above the knee, never shorter.
  • Hip pants: Avoid pants that go to the hip or are low-waisted and that, in any way, may show underwear.
  • Cleavage: T-shirts or blouses with cleavage are frowned upon and should be avoided.
  • Transparent clothing: Avoid any transparent garments, whether blouses, shirts or dresses.

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

  • Dresses: Women may wear long-sleeved, short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses, but they must always be knee-length.
  • 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 shorts, but always at the knee or the popular pirates.
  • Leggins: They can be worn, but always complemented with 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 it is not advisable to wear Brazilian knickers or thongs.

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What is the most advisable clothing for men in Dubai?

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

Unlike in the case of women, men have more freedom when it comes to dress and there are no garments that are prohibited as such. However, it is recommended that they always dress appropriately and elegantly. Below, I indicate some of the main tips they should follow:

  • Shirts: It is more advisable that they wear shirts as they are always more elegant.
  • Shorts: In principle they can wear shorts, but there are many establishments where this garment is not allowed.
  • Sneakers: As with shorts, there are certain establishments where sneakers are not allowed.

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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 one that best suits us to go out in the photos, the most suitable in relation to the weather ... And obviously, although when packing our suitcase to go to Dubai we have to take into account other issues, this is one that should not be overlooked.

Dubai is a city where temperatures are very extreme. Therefore, it is advisable to use linen or cotton garments, since, besides being very comfortable, they are suitable fabrics for these 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 overshirts or similar garments. In addition, there are a number of essential accessories:

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

In any case, take into account before making your trip what is the best time to travel to Dubai, since the quality of your experience will depend on it, regardless of whether or not you wear the right clothes.

What are the main accessories for your trip to Dubai?

On the one hand, it is essential that you take some accessory to cover your head, since, due to the high temperatures and the scorching sun of Dubai, this is the best way to avoid sunstroke, as well as headaches that spoil the intense tourist days. On the other hand, sunglasses will also make you feel more comfortable in the central hours of the day because the sun can be very annoying for your eyesight.

It is always appropriate to carry a scarf or foulard on hand, especially in the case of women because, sometimes, it can save us from a predicament when entering a mosque or establishment whose rules are stricter in terms of dress. With this you can cover your shoulders or hair.

In the case of women it is interesting to include in the suitcase a pair of heels in case you go to a club or similar establishment and, likewise, men should wear elegant shoes and not just the typical sneakers.

The traveler's tip

My recommendation is to wear clothes from the shoulders to the knees, especially in the case of women, so they do not have any problems when accessing 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 has a number of obligations and recommendations regarding dress.

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

  • Length: The main garment, whether it is a dress, skirt or pants, must be long.
  • Neckline: A woman cannot enter a mosque with cleavage so it is always recommended to wear a relatively high neckline or a garment over it to cover the cleavage.
  • Covered Waist: Women should avoid wearing any low-hipped garment, whether pants 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 to wear an overshirt, scarf, shawl or foulard to cover them.
  • Head covering: Any woman entering a mosque will be given a shayla, a headscarf-like garment to wear on her head.

Even so, there are certain mosques, especially the more touristic ones, where if you are not properly dressed they will offer you free of charge the appropriate clothing to enter. Be sure to visit the post Best Mosques in Dubai and know the must-see temples 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 malls or the metro, do not have a strict dress code, but they do have a series of recommendations, which are always higher in the case of women. In fact, it may be the case that a security person may ask a woman to cover herself.

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

Even so, being Dubai such a westernized city you will also see women with shorts and miniskirts, but it is not the most advisable and always depends on the area of the city where you are, as there are more traditional neighborhoods and others that are more touristy and do not attend to this type of issues.

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

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

When visiting a beach, a hotel pool or doing an activity such as a jet ski ride in Dubai, a jetpack session in Dubai or a flyboard session in Dubai, women can wear a swimsuit, but it should be discreet. In other words, it will always be better to wear a swimsuit than a bikini and, if they opt for a bikini, it is recommended that it be as covered as possible.

In addition, it is advisable to 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 neighborhoods in Dubai have the strictest dress code?

Deira neighborhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut
Deira neighborhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut

Before leaving the hotel and starting your daily sightseeing day with Dubai Explorer Pass you have to think calmly about what clothes are the most appropriate for the day. To do this, plan your day in advance and know which are the most traditional neighborhoods and in which, 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 Neighborhoods in Dubai that you have to know, but I advance you that among these are identified the Deira area , Global Village or The Miracle Garden. If you go to any of these areas, as well as to any mosque, it is ideal that day to take covered from men to the knees.

After all these tips on clothing you know how you should go anywhere in Dubai. Now don't hesitate to check out the best tours and excursions in Dubai article and enjoy in style. What are you waiting for?

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