what to wear in Dubai - clothing advice for tourists

What To Wear in Dubai (Clothing Advice for Tourists)

In Asia & Middle East, Dubai (UAE) by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

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 pants, a shirt, and closed shoes on some occasions…

So what to wear in Dubai? In this post, you’ll find no-nonsense practical advice and real-life examples of what clothes to wear in Dubai as a tourist. Read on!

What clothing is appropriate in Muslim countries depends so much on which country you are visiting, but also on the places you go to. If in doubt, always go for the safer version (covered arms and legs) and women should also carry a thin headscarf in case they need to cover their hair.  I bought a maxi skirt, especially for our Dubai trip. Although it wasn’t really necessary, I wore it on a couple of occasions in Dubai and felt very much at ease anywhere we went.

I think one should always be respectful to the local habits of the country and its people. Just as people should be respectful to our way of life when they come to the West! But that’s another topic, so let’s not get into politics….

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

Dubai clothing advice for tourists - practical guide and tips

 

 

What to wear in Dubai: practical advice for travellers

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 burqas. 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 at Dubai 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 saw 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.

Beachwear is only for the beach, so don’t go to a restaurant wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts.

 

What to wear at the beach, swimming pools and water parks in Dubai

Any type of beachwear from bikini to full-cover Islamic swimsuits is allowed at all beaches, pools, and waterparks, like e.g. Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm. The only rule at Dubai beaches and waterparks is no nudity.

What to wear in United Arab Emirates mosques, traditional markets 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 Dubai desert safari

One of the most popular tourist activities outside the city is visiting the desert. I would recommend wearing pants, shorts, or capri pants (no skirts or mini shorts) and a t-shirt or a blouse. Don’t forget sun protection!

Don’t use the picture below as an example for what to wear in Dubai desert. Your experience will definitely be a lot warmer than ours. Normally, it’s very hot in the desert, so wear light clothes that protect you from he sun. It was very cold in the desert when we visited in December, so if you encounter the same exceptionally cold weather, take a sweater or even a jacket as it can gets really cold in the desert in the evening. Sandals or closed shoes – depends on your preference.

Children wearing warm clothing in Dubai desert with a camel

Dubai desert safari on an exceptionally cold December day

 

Clothing advice for Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates

We haven’t been to the other Emirates, but I heard that Abu-Dhabi is already much more conservative than Dubai and that women are often stared at if they are dressed the way we do in the West. That makes me think that all the other emirates are even more traditional.

From what I understand, Dubai is by far the most tolerant of the 7 of the United Arabic Emirates, so keep that in mind if traveling outside of Dubai.

Update after a comment from a reader who grew up in Abu Dhabi. This is what she said: ‘I’m an expat born and brought up in Abu Dhabi and was free to dress however I please, including shorter shorts and sleeveless…(Abu Dhabi) is just as open-minded in terms of dress (as Dubai)’.

 

What to wear for women traveling to Dubai alone

If you are traveling to Dubai alone as a woman or with a group of girlfriends, and especially at night, you are probably better off dressing modestly.

It’s your choice, of course, but I say this based on the way many men stared at two young ladies in tight mini dresses we met at the Dubai Marina one night.

Do you need warm clothing in Dubai?

Normally, you only need summer clothing and footwear in Dubai. A thin sweater can be nice for some cooler evenings in winter or inside the malls. In December, when we visited, the malls were air-conditioned but not that cold that you would need a sweater. I hear that it might be different in the warmer seasons and you may want to take a thin sweater with you when going shopping – just in case the AC works too hard.

We visited Dubai for Christmas and New Year, and the temperatures we had were pretty much as cold as it gets over there. Minimum temperatures in Dubai in winter are around 20°C (68°F) and the maximum temperatures of 28°C (82°F) during the day. One day we even had some rain (it hardly ever rains in Dubai) and that was also the day we visited the desert. You’ve got to be lucky, right?! The wind was very cold and we wore long pants and a sweater during the day and a thin rain jacket in the evening.

Except for this one day, we never needed jeans or jackets in Dubai and only used our sweaters once or twice at night. My closed shoes stayed in the suitcase during the entire trip.

 

What you should definitely pack for Dubai?

I’m not going to give the whole packing list because packing for Dubai is pretty much the same as packing for any other warm destination. So here are just a few tips.

First, make sure you carry a summer shawl/wrap which you can use to cover your head, shoulders or knees if needed.

Second, wear comfortable summer sandals. You will look a bit out of the place with the hiking sandals though. Sportive sandals are ok for children and for men during the day.

***Traveling to Dubai soon? Make sure to check our hand-picked selection of the best tours, day trips, and activities in Dubai***

Looking for more information for your trip to Dubai? Read more:

Dubai Interesting Facts: from Must Know to Trivia
Top 5 Free Dubai Experiences and 3 Activities Under 3 EUR
All You Need to Know About Dubai Public Transport as a Tourist
20 Things To Do in Dubai for The Whole Family

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What to wear in Dubai and other Emirates as a tourist

Photo by Fredrik Öhlander via Unsplash

 

 

Comments

  1. I am planing to visit Dubai this October. Could you please tell me what would be the weather during this month. Will I need to pack a jacket and a sweater to protect myself from cold during evening and night? I am a female aged 45 and love wearing western dresses.

  2. I’m traveling to Dubai next mid September , what should I wear .?
    I am female , 65 years old
    Thx

    1. Author

      The same clothes you’d wear in any other warm place, just maybe not too revealing when you visit places outside of the hotel and beaches…

  3. Hi I’m going to Dubai tomorrow with my family. Very excited about it. But I just learned that they will be celebrating Eid al- Fitr. What should I expect?

    1. Author

      Hi Jeannette, to tell you the truth, I have no idea. But if you just google Eid al- Fitr, you’ll find quite some information about it.
      Enjoy your trip!

  4. Hi please can you inform me as I have shalwar kameez s in my wardrobe from visiting other countries and as a westerner would I be ok to wear these on visiting tourist places or would this seem to be wrong.

    1. Author

      No idea, Kay. You will certainly see people wearing clothing like that, but most of them are locals. I don’t think Westerners walk around like that, but if you feel good in those clothes, it’s your choice. I don’t see why anyone would care.

  5. Hi I will be visiting Dubai from 9-18 March. What is the weather like and which affordable restaurants can one go dine at not far away from the Mercure gold hotel Dubai?

    1. Author

      Hi Christine, March has warm summer weather in Dubai. Not too hot, perfect for the beach and sightseeing. As for the restaurants, why don’t you just check Google Maps for the area where you are staying. We stayed in a completely different part of town and I’m not familiar with that area. We never had issues to find good and affordable food in Dubai – plenty of choice, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  6. Hi am chika,am going this February,please what weather will I see over there and my clothing that follows

    1. Author

      Hi Chika, you can find the weather forecast for Dubai here. It looks like most days you can expect temperatures of over 20°C (70F), usually more, so it’s basically t-shirt weather.
      For what to wear – please read the article. Enjoy your trip.

  7. Hi, I’m going to Dubai on the 11th of feb which is next tomorrow, pls what dresses should I pack? Because I already packed shorts and short skirts too.

    1. Author

      Hi Karen, you’ll be fine with shorts and short dresses at the hotels or on the beach. For the city and sightseeing, you probably better wear something that covers your knees and shoulders.

  8. My husband an I are traveling to Dubai on May 5th. Will this be during the holy month of Ramadan? How will this change the dress code? Will tourist excursions be open for business?

    1. Author

      Hi Tanya, this article from BBC is very thorough explaining what to expect when visiting Dubai at Ramadan. It’s not very recent, but I think not too much would have changed.
      We haven’t been there at Ramadan, so I don’t have personal experience to share with you.

  9. I love to wear my Jean’s pants, are women allowed to wear pants in Dubai. I am going in May to June. My son say I can be arrested if not dressed properly. Can I wear dresses that hugs the body?

    1. Author

      Hi Karlene, I think you won’t want to wear jeans in Dubai in May or June – it’s just too HOT! For the rest, yes, I’m sure you could easily wear jeans, but once again, don’t 🙂 You can expect temperatures of +-38°C (100°F).
      As for tight dresses, you should be ok in the hotel, at the beach or in the city, but if you are doing any sightseeing or even visiting some shopping malls, you probably better wear something a bit less revealing. You don’t have to cover up completely, just a regular dress that covers your shoulders and knees and is not too tight will be fine. It’s a matter of showing respect to the local culture.
      Enjoy your trip!

  10. I would like to ask if Atlantis Dubai provides swimming costumes ?

    1. Author

      Hi Jaggu, as far as I remember they don’t provide any swimsuits, but you can buy swimwear in one of the shops at the hotel. It’s been a while since we visited, so I don’t know if anything has changed in the meantime.

  11. Interesting blog. Thanks for sharing all these practical tips for Dubai, Jurga

  12. Hello I will be traveling to Dubai in 2 weeks (Nov18) with my daughter. We will be taking the Desert Safari excursion. What would you recommend be the best attire?
    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Erleen, normally it should be warm enough to just wear summer clothing, maybe take a sweater for in the evening as it gets cold when the sun goes down. Of course, check the weather forecast. We even needed rain jackets, but that was on a really exceptionally cold December day. I’d say wear long summer pants or 3/4 pants or so and a t-shirt that covers your shoulders and isn’t too revealing. A skirt is probably not the best option, especially if you are planning to ride a camel or go gliding down the dunes. Really short shorts aren’t very appropriate I think.
      Hope this helps.

  13. I would love to visit Dubai and hope I will go there next year. Thanks for this great article, now I know what to expect.

  14. Hi… I m going Dubai on 8 nov.. pls tell me the clothing for my 2 year old baby… and for mine can I wear short dresses up to knees and boots …

    1. Author

      Your baby can wear anything. It’s probably going to be very warm, so just summer clothes will do. Don’t forget a sunhat and maybe a UV t-shirt for on the beach.
      You may want to take a sweater for in case it gets colder at night.
      For yourself, I’d leave the boots at home (much too warm). We were there in December and I wore my sandals the whole time. Dresses will be ok, even short ones, but maybe keep those for in the hotel or at the beach. I’d try to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting other places. You’ll see people wearing pretty much all kinds of clothing in Dubai, but it’s just about being respective to the local culture, I find.

  15. Hello ,
    So glad to have a people like you for sharing such useful information .
    We are going to DUBAI on 11 till 15 july , Can you please suggest choice of clothes for my wife

    Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Rounak, I think your question should have been answered in this post already… I would suggest light summer clothing that covers knees and shoulders.
      Have a nice trip!

  16. Can a girl wear cold sleeves top in Dubai?

    1. Author

      Hi Ankita, you can wear pretty much anything in Dubai tourist areas. But to be respectful to their customs I’d still advise to cover your shoulders when leaving beach/hotel.

  17. Exactly all the information I was looking for. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Good to hear that, Komal. Enjoy your trip to Dubai!

    2. Hi Jurga I will be visiting Dubai in December I love to wear caps and Fedora hats, is that permitted for a woman to wear.

      1. Author

        Hi Marcia, I don’t see why not. Just one thing – it might be a bit too warm and you may want to wear a sun hat instead. 🙂
        Enjoy your trip!

  18. This is really an informative blog, The summers are too much warm, the winters are pleasant and the Pashmina shawls are widely popular widely. Dubai is indeed a lovely place.

    1. Author

      Glad you found this info useful. Happy travels!

  19. hi ! are muslims tourist allowed to wear shalwar kameez in dubai for men and women both ?

    1. Author

      It’s a muslim country after all, so yes, Tahreem, I think muslims can wear pretty much anything they are used to. Dubai is really a multicultural mix and you see people wearing all kinds of clothing.

  20. Hi, I’m travelling to Dubai in July with my boyfriend. We’re only there to sit by the pool and visit Burj Khalifa, malls and parks etc. How strict are they with clothing? Of course I will carry a shawl with me, but if I were to wear a top and shorts or a skirt, would that be considered inappropriate since it’s very hot in July?

    1. Author

      Hi Catharina, you will see people wear pretty much anything in Dubai. So it’s really up to you. In the hotel and on the beach you will be fine. However, for malls and Burj Khalifa I would still say try to cover you shoulders and knees, there are plenty of light clothes that can do that, and you will feel better. And also many places have airco so you really won’t be that hot inside a mall for example. And they do have stricter rules during Ramadan, so maybe check if it’s not Ramadan when you are traveling this year.

      1. thanks such a useful information. I’m going to Dubai soon.

        1. Author

          Glad to hear you found it useful, Shweta. Enjoy your trip.

  21. Hi
    We are traveling to Dubai on 4th may
    What dress and footwear should we carry as temperature is high

    1. Author

      Hi Munira, for hotel and the beach pack just any regular summer clothes as you would do anywhere else. For sightseeing just make sure that you can cover your knees and shoulders if necessary, so maybe carry a light shawl with you and try not to wear too revealing clothes if you plan to go to the old town, visit mosques, or similar. Women can easily wear sandals in Dubai, I think it’s not really a big deal for men either if it’s really hot. My husband preferred to wear light shoes, but it wasn’t that hot when we visited.
      You can always opt for linen clothes if it fits your style (dresses, skirts, blouses, trousers…) – they are perfect in hot weather.

    2. This was great info thank you

  22. Love the blog Jurga and really helpful. It gives a good idea to those who have never visited the Emirate.

    One small point, I think you should refrain putting out information about places you are not sure of, example Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Emirates. I understand that you have mentioned that you haven’t been there but you are planting a seed of doubt when you do not know the standard yourself.

    Honestly, I’m an expat born and brought up in Abu Dhabi and was free to dress however I please, including shorter shorts and sleeveless. While it’s true that Abu Dhabi is not as lively and touristy as Dubai, it’s just as open-minded in terms of dress.

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing this, JoAnn. It will be very useful to our readers to know that Abu Dhabi dress code is not much different from that in Dubai. I’ll see if I can update the post and include insights of a local ;).
      And isn’t Abu Dhabi becoming more and more popular among the foreign visitors in the recent years too? Hope to go back to the region and explore a bit more.

  23. kindly suggest me which type of cloths carry in January,2018 like sweater, shawls or winter cloths .

    1. Author

      Hi Ravinder, January in Dubai is better weather-wise than summer here in Belgium :). You will be ok with summer clothes, just maybe take one light sweater for in the evening or to wear inside the shopping malls (air conditioning). A light shawl is always good to have, especially for women – to cover your head and/or shoulders when visiting certain places, or to wrap up when the air conditioning is a bit too cold. You definitely don’t need any winter clothes or warm shawls, etc.

  24. Thank You for the helpful info Jurga. Your Iceland pics look very enticing although i haven’t got time to read the article. I will when I plan for Iceland trip 🙂
    Best Regards
    Tara

    1. Author

      Wow, you are going from very hot places to the very cold ones, Tara. I did the same – was in Iceland in November and then in Dubai for the New Year. Completely different worlds.
      Thanks for your feedback and for taking the time to leave a comment.

  25. This is best and helpful information
    thanks for sharing

    1. Author

      Glad to hear that, Nisha! Thank you for taking the time to leave this feedback.

  26. It does, thank you!

  27. Jurga, I just discovered your blog and its useful info. Our family is traveling to Jerusalem in September. While researching clothing recommendations, I see lots of info for men and women, but nothing for kids. I have three (boy 12, boy 9, girl 7). Do you think I need to follow adult recommendations (covered legs and arms) in the Middle East for our kids as well? Or can they get away with regular shorts and tank tops (it will one in the high 80s in Israel when we go). Thank for any info you can provide!

    1. Author

      Hi Amy, I don’t think you need to worry about the kids. Our boys just wore t-shirts and shorts in Dubai and from what I saw all the local kids (boys and girls) were dressed the same as they would be in Western World. You may need to cover the hair of your daughter in some religious buildings (just guessing this, don’t know for sure), so it might be useful to pack a light summer shawl or so (also for yourself). Hope this helps.

  28. Useful info, Jurga. I’d like to point out, for those unfamiliar with Dubai, that it’s an extremely safe place for women travelling alone. You mention young women in tight mini dresses being stared at but I’m inclined to believe that happens everywhere! The difference in Dubai would be that they would be very unlikely to receive any harassment.

    You’re definitely correct that the malls can be chilly and a wrap or cardigan is handy!

    1. Author

      You’re absolutely right, Candice! Short skirts attract a lot of attention everywhere. I never felt unsafe anywhere in Dubai, but then I bought one of those maxi skirts just to be at ease 🙂

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