What to wear in Dubai

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Your flights are booked, you’ve found a top-notch hotel, you just need to pack your bags and you’re off to Dubai. But wait, what are you putting in there? Every traveller to Dubai needs to be aware of the city’s rules around clothing, and what to expect when you get there. As a Muslim country following Sha’aria law, the United Arab Emirates has some strict rules around what you can and can’t wear. Dubai is more liberal than other places in the Middle East, but you’re still required to dress modestly – particularly in the older, more traditional parts of the city.

Wondering where to begin with packing before your trip? We’ve got you covered in more ways than one with this handy guide:

Female dress code

Can you wear a skirt in Dubai?

Sure you can, but it’s best to keep it below the knee. Midi and maxi skirts are your safest bet, just make sure they’re not too form-fitting and more of a flowy boho vibe. Mini skirts are definitely a no-no in traditional areas e.g. souks and markets – wear one here and you’re likely to face a stern telling off by the locals at the very least.

It’s also a good idea to leave the short shorts at home, unless they’re just part of your beach attire. Anything tight and skimpy will be seen as disrespecting local customs which we’re sure isn’t your intention when visiting a brand new place for the first time.


Can you wear tank tops in Dubai?

The simple answer is no. You’ll probably see people wearing them, but if you want to be respectful to the local customs you should leave them off your packing list. Showing cleavage is somewhat frowned upon, and it’s also best to avoid wearing any tops that show your underwear underneath. Instead, go for t-shirts and tops that cover your upper arms – strappy tops and those that show off your midriff are considered offensive.

Be sure to pack a sweater if you’re heading to the malls anyway as they tend to whack up the air con to full blast to provide some respite from the desert temperatures outside.


Can you wear a bikini in Dubai?

If you’re at the beach or by the pool, absolutely. But this isn’t Bali – there’s no exploring the malls or going for lunch fresh off the beach in your swimwear.

As for the bikini itself, opt for a demure cut as opposed to anything too revealing, and as for going topless on the beach, this is one place where you’re just going to have to embrace those tan lines!

Following the Dubai dress code

Male dress code

Can you wear shorts in Dubai?

Yes. Basically, as long as they’re not super short or tight you’ll be fine. Cycling shorts that leave little to the imagination are not ok, unless you’re, well, cycling…


What’s an acceptable everyday look?

Men have it pretty easy when it comes to the Dubai dress code. Knee-length shorts with any type of t-shirt or polo shirt and you’re good to go (if the weather permits of course). Avoid any tees with pictures or slogans that might be considered offensive. Vests and tanks shouldn’t be worn in public but are fine for the beach or gym. It’s definitely not ok to walk around shirtless in public, and that includes unbuttoning your shirt all the way down to show off your impressive chest hair.


What should men wear at the beach in Dubai?

Pretty much the same as you’d wear on any beach holiday. Swim trunks and a t-shirt or vest. Going topless is also totally fine for guys at the beach. Speedos/budgie smugglers should be avoided (arguably no matter what country you’re in).

What to wear in Mosques in Dubai

As you’d expect, the rules around clothing when visiting religious sites are more strict. Women should be covered from head to toe in loose-fitting clothing – think long-sleeved shirt with trousers or a maxi skirt. Women also need to cover their hair when entering a Mosque, so make sure you pack a scarf or shawl.

Men also should be covered from shoulders to ankles. Plain t-shirts are ok, but shorts (including cargo shorts) and vests are out. Keep clothing loose – save the showing off for the beach.

What to wear in Dubai for a night out

The dress code is usually more relaxed at hotel bars and restaurants that are mainly full of tourists. Skinny jeans and strappy dresses aren’t likely to cause any raised eyebrow here, but if you’re leaving the resort you should stick to the dress code and dress modestly. Some higher end places will have specific rules, e.g. no open toe shoes for men, so check the dress code beforehand.

There is one glaring exception where all of these modesty rules are forgotten, and that’s nightclubs. Bodycon, miniskirts, stomach-bearing crop-tops… it’s a clothing free for all. Just make sure you’re suitably covered for the ride or walk to the club.

One thing to note if you’re anticipating a night on the wilder side; men shouldn’t wear women’s clothing at any point – crossdressing is illegal in the UAE.

While there are clear guidelines about what to wear in Dubai, not following them is unlikely to see you end up in prison. An inappropriate outfit is more likely to attract stern looks than police attention nowadays. The city has become very metropolitan, attracting millions of tourists every year, and you’re sure to see plenty of them walking around in skimpy clothes in the malls, despite the guidelines being displayed at the entrance. A more respectful approach is to follow the Dubai fashion code and dress with modesty in mind – that way you avoid causing offence and getting into trouble.

Got your holiday wardrobe sorted? There’s only one thing left to do – download the Orbzii app today to Dream, Plan and Book your ultimate Dubai getaway.