How to Dress in Dubai

How To Dress In Dubai As a Tourist? (Dress Codes)

Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations and also home to millions of expats, making it a global and multicultural city. However, as part of the UAE, it is governed by Islamic laws, which are quite conservative. If you can’t picture yourself in an abaya or a kandura, you can relax, but you should consider some dress code guidelines. How should you dress in Dubai, then?

Dubai is one of the more liberal emirates and does not demand that tourists and expats wear traditional dress. Still, it does expect people to dress modestly. Western clothing is acceptable, but people should cover up from the shoulder to the knees and adhere to the dress codes for public spaces.

When we are in somebody else’s home, most of us will respect the norms and values of our hosts. We should apply this courtesy in foreign countries, too. While the morals and values of Dubai demand modesty in dress, you should also consider the outdoor and indoor temperatures when deciding what to wear in Dubai. Let’s look at the guidelines for your Dubai wardrobe.

How To Dress In Dubai

Family Dress Code Dubai

Visitors to Dubai will discover that the locals will welcome all nationalities and accept most forms of dress, on the condition that it is modest. They also want their city to reflect a family-friendly environment for residents and visitors.

The guiding principle is that both men and women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees and everything in between. You should also not wear clothes that are very tight or too revealing.

Dubai’s dress codes only apply to public places, so if you are in a private residence or hotel suite, you are free to dress as you please. Be mindful, though, that hotel lobbies count as public spaces, and you should dress accordingly.

How Women Should Dress In Dubai

How Women Should Dress Dubai

In a country where reputation and behavior determine how much respect you can expect to get from the locals, it makes sense to “put your best foot forward”. Dubai is a fashion-forward melting pot of diverse cultures and nationalities, so there’s something for everyone’s tastes and styles.

However, dressing well and modestly need not be boring! By adding a few timeless classics to your wardrobe and following the guidelines below, you can rest assured that you will never feel out of place or be dressed inappropriately in Dubai.

The guideline regarding covering the shoulders means that at least the top of the arms should not be bare. Women can wear t-shirts or dresses with short sleeves, but strappy tops and backless dresses will not impress the locals.

You don’t have to wear clothing that completely hides your shape, but they frown upon skin-tight items. Sports clothing is only appropriate on the sports field or wherever you’re exercising. It would be inappropriate to wear it in public.

Ladies can sport their bikinis at the beach and pool areas as long as they cover all the necessary bits. But if the bikini needs a magnifying glass to find it, or it’s a thong, it’s a definite no-no. And don’t even think about tanning or swimming topless. You would likely get yourself arrested

Women can wear t-shirts, but they should not have very low v-necks and definitely not show any cleavage or midriff. Tiny shorts will earn you some raised eyebrows and even unwanted comments. So if you wear shorts in public, they should be knee-length.

Women don’t have to cover their heads with a scarf unless they want to go into a mosque. If it’s a mosque that allows all religions to enter, ladies should be able to hire a scarf for the duration of their visit.

What Men Should Wear In Dubai

What Men Should Wear Dubai

Modesty also governs the dress code for men in Dubai. Shorts are acceptable, but they should also be knee-length. T-shirts should also not be sleeveless and must be free of offensive symbols or slogans. Guys should not leave their button-up shirts halfway undone to show off their chest hair.

Men can wear board shorts, swimming shorts, and even racing-style swimming trunks (Speedos) at the beach or around the pool. Thongs are thankfully unacceptable. Men follow the same guidelines with sports clothes as ladies. They are not to wear them in public before or after exercise, including cycling shorts. Men must never wear women’s clothing in public, or they will get arrested!

Other Dress Codes In Dubai

Mall Dress Codes Dubai

Dubai has a mall dress code. Malls place boards outside that ask the public to please dress modestly, showing a picture of a t-shirt with sleeves. There is a good chance that a security person could ask you to leave if you don’t comply. Even if nobody challenges you, it is still respectful to dress according to their requests.

Night clubs, bars, and restaurants are much more tolerant of liberal fashion, and almost anything goes. But remember, to get to those places, or when you leave them, you will be in public, and skimpy clothing could again cause problems.

The dress code also applies when you’re on the road, so keeping a shawl or cardigan in your car is handy.

If you have to visit government buildings or the courts, they may hand you an abaya if you’re a woman, or a kandura if you’re a man, to wear while you’re there.

Dress For The Weather in Dubai

Cooler Weather Pashmina Shawls Dubai

Dubai can be a sweltering city at the best of times, so pack your bags with items suitable for the season.

  • Light cotton clothing is a wise choice for visiting the city.
  • Capri pants will cover your legs appropriately but will keep you cool simultaneously.
  • Don’t wear spaghetti strap tops on their own, but you can cover them with a loose, open shirt.
  • Pashmina shawls and light cardigans are must-haves in your suitcase to cover up when necessary and at night or inside air-conditioned buildings.
  • Malls often set their air conditioning to almost freezing temperatures, so it’s not a bad thing to dress in layers.


Dubai gives people a lot of latitude regarding how they want to dress. It may seem inconvenient to adhere to a different dress code than what you’re used to when you’re on vacation. But Dubai does not ask you to change your style entirely and wear traditional Islamic clothes.

It is essential to respect their culture and desire to keep the dress code modest as visitors to the country. It’s similar to visiting an acquaintance’s home: their home, their rules. As people welcome you into their space, the more you comply with their values, the more cooperation and friendliness you will receive from them. And the better your visit will be. Bon, voyage!


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