what to wear in Dubai

What to Wear in Dubai: 5 Helpful Tips

Planning to visit or moving to Dubai? One of the biggest questions among tourists and expats is how to prepare in terms of what to wear in Dubai. The UAE is a predominantly Islamic Arab state, which means you’re expected to adhere to its more conservative laws. However, it’s also a vibrant society of mixed cultures. In a general sense, Dubai is more tolerant as compared to other emirates or Arab states. Just remember these tips about what to wear in Dubai so you can hit the streets in style without violating any dress codes.

1. Modest is best

You can wear pretty much anything in Dubai with some non-negotiable exceptions. As a general rule, women are expected to cover their bodies starting from the shoulders down to the knees. Men aren’t allowed to wear shorts above the knee or expose the chest in public places. Both men and women should avoid see-through fabrics and skin-tight clothing. You may also have to let go of your ripped jeans because these are banned in the emirate.

2. Dress up for the season

Comfort of course should be one of the main considerations when you’re planning what to wear in Dubai. The desert city has hot and humid summers which start around June and last until August. Temperature levels can get extremely high and the city may even be exposed to frequent sandstorms in the summer. Consider cool, light fabrics during this period to save yourself from the heat. 

Winter months last from November to March. While it doesn’t snow in Dubai, evenings could get chilly. You can also expect mild rainfall and the occasional thunderstorm. Many of the major events and festivals occur during the cooler season, attracting a large volume of tourists. Strut your style with a nice coat, light jacket, cardigan, or a sweater when you go out and about during the winter months.

3. Be mindful of places with strict dress codes

Most public places would be filled by expats like yourself. Hotels, airports, restaurants, and most public spaces don’t impose strict rules on dressing up. You can wear open-toed sandals or flip-flops except in some establishments that require something a bit more formal. 

On the other hand, visiting mosques and government offices require strict observance of Dubai dress codes. In some cases, you’ll be provided by an abaya (women) or kandourah (men) to cover up your body. Women should also cover the hair when entering a mosque.

4. Tattoos and makeup

Body art or tattoos are mostly okay but it’s best to cover them up, especially if you’re in a place that locals frequent. Tattoo designs that are considered offensive or profane could get you cited for a violation. If you want to avoid any unwelcome stares or questions, it would be prudent to cover up any body art. 

Makeup is accepted and in fact, adored. But for your own comfort, it’s best to wear light or waterproof makeup because it can get especially warm and humid. 

5. Swimming and working out

Bikinis and swimsuits are allowed when you go out for a day in the sun by a pool or at the beach. Topless sunbathing and wearing see-through fabrics, however, may be considered a violation. Wear proper workout clothes when you decide to go for a walk or a run in Dubai. Leggings and shorts are okay as long as they don’t go above the knee in length. Shirts would be the safest choice. Women aren’t allowed to expose cleavage, midriff, or backs. 

Expatriates from all over the world are attracted to Dubai because it’s one of the world’s most progressive and cosmopolitan cities. Tax-free employment and ease of doing business are some of its biggest draws. The city is also a center for major events, conventions, trade shows, art exhibits, and fashion shows. Furthermore, the UAE also had a commendable response to COVID-19 pandemic and is already looking at reopening borders sometime soon. If you’re visiting the city or plan to live there, remember these useful pointers on what to wear in Dubai.