What to Wear in Dubai – Clothing Advice from a Local

If you’re planning a trip to Dubai and wondering what to wear, this guide covers you. It includes a list of suitable clothing items and explains why dressing modestly is important in Dubai.

Since the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim-majority country, everyone, including tourists and residents, is expected to dress conservatively regardless of the weather.

You’re unlikely to face severe consequences for dressing inappropriately, such as going to jail.

However, you may receive disapproving looks or be politely asked by security to cover up more. It’s not just about following rules but respecting the local culture and customs.

This guide not only advises on what to wear but also includes links to purchase appropriate outfits online before your trip. This way, you can enjoy your visit to Dubai without any worries about your attire.

Why Does Dubai Have Clothing Rules?

Many people wonder about appropriate clothing in Dubai. While the city’s dress code is influenced by Sha’aria law, it’s not the only factor. Dubai is known for being family-friendly, and the government encourages modest clothing to maintain a respectful environment for families and their children.

In Dubai, many families hold conservative values. It’s important to remember this, especially in public places like malls, where wearing revealing clothing such as bikinis or speedos isn’t appropriate. The aim is to create a comfortable environment for everyone, including children.

So, when packing for Dubai, consider choosing outfits that are suitable to be worn in places where children are present. The goal is to dress respectfully in public spaces.

What Can You Wear in Dubai Public?

For Women

  • Tops and tank tops
  • T-shirts
  • Cover-ups
  • Trousers/pants
  • Shorts and skirts
  • Jeans
  • Knee-length dresses with short sleeves, or sleeveless
  • Long dresses
  • White/light trainers/sneakers
  • Sports sliders
  • Crocs
  • Sandals
  • Heels for brunch and dinner
  • Swimsuits and bikinis. A bikini can be worn only at the beach or swimming pools
  • Cross necklace

For Men

  1. Tops: T-shirts and shirts are perfectly acceptable. Sleeveless tops and tank tops are generally not recommended in more conservative areas or public places like malls and government buildings.
  2. Bottoms: Shorts are acceptable, but they should be knee-length or longer. Very short shorts are not advised. Jeans, ripped jeans, trousers, and chinos are all good choices.
  3. Swimwear: At the beach or pool, swimwear like swimming trunks is acceptable. However, it’s important to change back into regular clothes when leaving these areas.
  4. Footwear: Regular footwear like shoes, sandals, water shoes, or flip-flops are fine.
  5. Cultural Events and Religious Sites: If you’re visiting a mosque or attending a cultural or religious event, it’s respectful to wear long trousers and a shirt with sleeves.

What Can’t You Wear in Dubai Public?

For Women

  • Dresses that are too tight and fitted
  • Clothes that are see-through
  • Tops where your bra can be seen
  • Any clothes that reveal too much cleavage
  • Shorts or skirts that are too short
  • Clothes that do not cover the midriff area
  • T-shirts with inappropriate slogans or jokes

For Men

  1. Very Short Shorts: Shorts that are too short (like running shorts) are often considered inappropriate in public places such as malls, restaurants, and government buildings.
  2. Sleeveless Shirts and Tank Tops: These are typically not suitable for public places. It’s better to opt for T-shirts or shirts with short or long sleeves.
  3. Swimwear in Public Areas: Swimming trunks or speedos are acceptable at the beach or pool, but not in other public areas like shopping malls, streets, or restaurants.
  4. Transparent or Excessively Tight Clothing: Clothes that are see-through or overly tight might be frowned upon in more conservative or public settings.
  5. Offensive Prints or Slogans on Clothing: Avoid wearing clothing with potentially offensive or inappropriate language, symbols, or political slogans.
  6. Traditional Emirati Dress: Unless you are Emirati or from a Gulf country, wearing the traditional ‘Kandura‘ or ‘Dishdasha’ (long white robe) may be seen as culturally insensitive.