You've already booked your tickets for an incredible adventure in Dubai, but you don't know what to pack yet? Don't worry ?(smiley) In this article, I will explain how to dress in Dubai and what to wear in public places, in stores or at the beach.
The question of what to wear in Dubai comes up a lot in the comments. Should you wear traditional Dubai clothing or a veil if you are a woman?
Well, you should know that the idea people have of Dubai is often wrong. Although a Muslim state, Dubai is also one of the most open-minded states in the United Arab Emirates. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that you will have to respect the culture and traditions of this country that welcomes you with open arms.
Nothing too bad! All you need to bring is decent, comfortable and practical clothes. Shall I tell you more about it right now 😊
HOW TO DRESS IN DUBAI? THE TRADITIONAL DRESS OF THE LOCALS
1 - TRADITIONAL DRESS FOR MEN
In Dubai, men traditionally wear a kind of long dress called dishdash. It is a white cotton gandoura that is mainly used to protect oneself from the sun.
On their heads, they like to wear a turban (also white) or a keffiyeh, a red scarf with white checks. They hold it in place with a black cord called an agal.
This is the traditional dress of men in Dubai, and has been for centuries.
2 - TRADITIONAL DRESS FOR WOMEN
Even if they enjoy a great freedom in the society, to go out, Dubai women are used to wearing an abaya, the traditional dress of the emirates. It is a loose-fitting dress that is usually closed, but that can also be worn open over another garment.
Abayas are usually black, but you'll see many women wearing abayas that are decorated with colors, rhinestones and sequins; or embroidered on the front, back or sleeves.
In fact, you will quickly notice that UAE women are very fashionable. They love to wear modern abayas and are very fond of combining eastern and western styles. Most of them combine their abayas with bags from big international brands (Guess, Dior...) and very expensive shoes (Louboutin...).
You can find all these brands in the stores of the Dubai Mall at the foot of the Burj Khalifa (if you want to go window shopping 😉)
They also like to wear nice trendy outfits under their elegant abayas: a nice tight dress or even the latest jeans.
Next, they usually put a thin black veil, the sheila or shayla, over their heads. It traditionally covers the nose and mouth, but most women wear it only to hide their hair.
You will also see women wearing the full veil, burqa or niqab. Some older women even wear a gold-colored leather mask that covers their entire face (forehead, nose and mouth). This is a rather cultural accessory that was used mostly by Bedouin women to protect themselves from the sand and the sun.
If you want to buy an abaya to wear during your stay or if you want to bring one back as a souvenir, head to the Naif souk in the Deira district to find the traditional dress of your choice 😉
WHAT TO WEAR TO VISIT DUBAI?
I'll tell you now about the clothes you should bring with you visit Dubai and enjoy the beach, the cultural visits but also the restaurants.
1. WEAR CLOTHES THAT ARE RESPECTFUL OF THE ARAB CULTURE
There are more foreigners than native people in Dubai! It is a very cosmopolitan emirate with about 85% expatriates. Many people want to live in Dubai and the city was built with the arrival of these expatriates.
As a tourist, you will have a lot of freedom. It is however very important that you respect the local culture during your stay.
Dubai remains a Muslim state with very traditional rules, customs and habits. Don't worry though: the locals are open-minded and very tolerant. You will just have to dress in such a way as not to offend anyone.
Forget also the false information that circulates : women are not obliged to wear the veil and men are not obliged to walk around in gandoura ! As tourists, you are free to wear whatever you want; you should just avoid certain habits that go totally unnoticed in the US, but are considered provocative in the emirate. For example: don't wear deep necklines, short shorts or mini-skirts; prefer skirts below the knee and tops with long sleeves.
Wearing the veil is not mandatory in Dubai.
2. WEAR CLOTHES THAT ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THE WEATHER
In Dubai, the weather is warm and sunny all year round. As a rule, Dubai's climate is dry and hot. In summer, the temperature can even reach 122°F in the shade! And the humidity level is often around 90%. Therefore, remember to pack cotton clothes that will absorb the humidity outside. I also advise you to take white or light colored clothes, which will help you to fight the suffocating heat in the streets of the city.In winter, the thermometer rarely goes below 68 °F (20°C). So forget about heavy jackets and take only light and comfortable clothes with you!
Take a little wool, a cardigan or a stole. They will be useful for night outings (evenings can be cool). Don't forget that air conditioning is present everywhere: in Dubai hotels but also in restaurants, official establishments, transportation, shopping malls ... and it is rather strong! So a light vest may be useful even inside a building.
A hat will be very useful to protect you from the sun. And don't forget to bring good sun cream!
3. WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING FOR YOUR OUTINGS
- At the beach / Water parks
Anyway, don't forget to pack a swimsuit for your beach trips or when you go to enjoy one of the water parks in Dubai (a must-do activity for me!)
By the sea, you can wear a one-piece swimsuit or a bikini - but be aware that toplessness is strictly prohibited for women!
Some Dubai women have adopted these western outfits, but the majority wear the burkini : a full-body swimsuit that completely covers the body and hair. This does not prevent them in any way from enjoying the sun and practicing their usual activities.
As for the men, they can wear shorts as well as briefs.
So, how to dress in Dubai at the beach? In a very normal way! But no top-less for women.
Be careful, remember to put your clothes back on as soon as you leave the beach. Do not leave the beach shirtless, and do not walk in the streets in a bathing suit!
The day in the city
As I told you earlier, ladies, prefer long clothes that will avoid looks that could make you feel uncomfortable: avoid clothes that are too short, tight, or transparent (your underwear should not be seen through your clothes). Especially if you are going to walk in the old traditional districts of Dubai (and most importantly in the souks).
Be careful, in the city, some establishments have a dress code that you must respect. For example, in some shopping malls, you will see signs "suggesting" that you cover your shoulders and knees.
Gentlemen, if you want to wear shorts and a t-shirt, that's perfectly fine. No one will blame you. However, don't go bare-chested because you're too hot, it's forbidden!
You are therefore required to wear appropriate and respectful clothing.
- The night in the city
Dubai is the place where the jetset likes to meet up in trendy super clubs. Yes, even though Islam is the religion of the country, Dubai's citizens and especially the expatriates love to go out and have fun at night. You will find many nightclubs where the most famous DJs of the world come to put a little (a lot!) of atmosphere.
It is in these clubs/bars that you will have the freedom to dress as you wish. Of course, nothing too daring: wear something chic, trendy, or even casual 🙂 Traditional dress will not be required!
Some establishments will ask men to wear pants and closed shoes.
- Dress code for visiting a mosque
In Dubai, you can visit some places of worship even if you are not Muslim. This is where you will have to cover your whole body: arms, legs, shoulders. Women will also have to wear a veil on their head, even non-Muslim women.
By the way, I strongly recommend that you visit Abu Dhabi from Dubai for one day at least during your stay, so as to discover the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi,but also the Louvre of Abu Dhabi.
These are two of the activities you really should do, if you are wondering what to do in Abu Dhabi !
I always try to plan a day or two to go to Abu Dhabi, if I'm traveling with friends.
Ladies, if you're there and suddenly want to visit the mosque unprepared, the people responsibles for the visits will be more than happy to lend you an abaya and a scarf at the entrance. Similarly, gentlemen, if you come in shorts, you will be offered a gandoura.
You will also need to remove your shoes.
How to dress to visit a mosque, then? There, you will have to respect the rules to the letter!
- If you're going to workout
At the hotel, simply wear sportswear. The same goes if you are going to a sports club.
If you're going for a jog outside, long shorts for the gentlemen and a T-shirt is a must! You, ladies, can wear long leggings.
- Going to the desert
If you're planning an outing in the Dubai desert, go for long cotton clothes. Pack comfortable clothes for your excursions on foot, horseback, camel, or quad...
Since it is cold at night, don't forget to take a cardigan or pullover with you once the sun goes down.
As for shoes, you can bring sandals, of course. Tennis shoes or comfortable shoes will also be very useful on site.
If you decide to go to a nightclub, bring pumps and dress shoes.
HOW TO DRESS IN DUBAI? THE SUMMARY!
These instructions are of course intended for outings in public places. Therefore, in your hotel room, your rented accommodation, your place of lodging or even at friends', you can dress as you like.
The dress code to be avoided is the one you are not sure about in general.
There are no specific dress code guidelines for children 😊