Dubai Dress Code: Great Tips On What To Wear As A Tourist In Dubai

Wondering about the Dubai dress code? For over many years of living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, I must say my lifestyle has drastically changed. Not only did the different worldviews in the city reshape me, but its location and seasons also called for me to drastically redefine my style and other components in my life. This includes the way I dress.

Having been in the city from summer through winter and back, the city has effectively taught me how to be comfortably trendy and fashionably modest. During my first few months as I closely considered the Dubai dress code, it not only reminded me to stay simple but also to respect the rules of the land wherever I go.

Read More: 20 Best Attractions and Things To Do in Dubai For First Time Visitors

Rewind the clock to a few years back, I was a clueless young professional wearing long sleeves even on a hot summer day – simply because I was told I could not wear my favourite cotton top. I feel like a lot of people relate to that. There were not too many write-ups about Dubai that will tell you the truth.

Yes, you can wear sleeveless. Yes, you are allowed to wear makeup. The world wide web is filled with horror stories of mummifying yourself in the midst of a dry spell while battling the incoming sandstorm. The world lacked an older sister back then. I am glad it isn’t the case anymore. 

What to wear in dubai for female tourists
Dubai dress code: Wearing shorts and a shirt at the beach

All throughout this article, I shall answer many questions that female and male tourists usually ask with regard to the Dubai dress code. Knowing what clothes to wear in Dubai beforehand will make your stay in this modern city more relaxed. With both religion and climate to consider, it is quite challenging to decide what to wear as a tourist in Dubai.

You have the 50-degree Celsius heat to contend with as you try and conform to the guidelines posted at Dubai mall’s entrance. 

Why do we even have to discuss what is not allowed to wear in Dubai?

This city is one of the seven emirates that make up the country United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a Muslim country. Islam is its main religion; this entails following modest ways of living – and that includes being mindful of what to wear in all situations.

As you visit this stunning city, people will often ask you out of curiosity if you need to adhere to certain guidelines during your stay. Should you bring this? Do you do that? Would you need this? Can you make that? When it comes to your safety, indeed no question is too crazy. Let’s try to answer some.

Read more: How to Get Dubai Tourist Visa for Filipinos

Is there a dress code in Dubai?

Your dilemma of what to wear in Dubai ends (or starts) here, because my answer to this question: yes and no.

Yes, because you see reminders everywhere for you to respect the rules of the land – and that includes being dutifully covered. No, because you can honestly wear “whatever you like” outside.

By this, I mean that other people’s judgment of whether or not you are properly dressed for the city will be entirely reliant on your personal choice of clothes to wear.

Will you be called out for showing too much skin? There is always that possibility. Remember, it is not your country, and the people who truly call Dubai their city may (or may not) ask for the authorities’ intervention should they find your outfits too revealing or highly inappropriate for the venue or the activity. This challenge is particular to women.

If you ask me: with all the vagueness that surrounds the Dubai dress code, what do female tourists wear in Dubai? I’d say they put on what they normally wear in their home countries in corresponding places and occasions.

It can be tricky, but I have learned how to stay on the right side of things by living out this simple verse: if in doubt, cover up.  

Why is there a need for a dress code in Dubai?

As with many other religions and communities, dressing modestly means reducing the risk of temptation for the people around you. Tight clothes and plunging necklines leave almost nothing to a human’s imagination, and this may spark lust – one of mankind’s most sinful desires. 

How strict is the Dubai dress code?

As you explore the emirate of Dubai, you will see posted signages of what to wear in public places. The general rule is to dress appropriately and modestly, bearing in mind that the local Arabs are particular about keeping their traditional beliefs and practices alive. To answer this question plainly, I’d say no. Dubai’s dress code is not strict.

I would say, though, that your level of respect towards the culture of this land that is foreign to you shall be easily seen in how you present yourself in public.

Do men and women have to wear traditional clothing in Dubai?

If you want to, you can. Abayas are the black robes you see women wear while kandoras are the white ones for men. These are coupled with scarves and other traditional pieces of clothing.

In Dubai, you shall see very fashionable and modern takes on the abaya and the kandora. Even though the UAE is a Muslim country, this particular emirate is a melting pot of rich cultures. It is safe to assume that because of the diversity and the openness of Dubai to many influences, local creators can enjoy the freedom of tweaking their traditional clothing and artistry to showcase the modernization that is dominating the city.

Can I wear a bikini or bathing suit in Dubai?

The answer is no, you cannot wear your beachwear in Dubai… if you strut it at the mall!

The obvious key to knowing what to wear in Dubai is by asking yourself if it is the proper venue to wear such. Yes, female tourists and expatriates wear bikinis or bathing suits while at the beach or in pool areas.

Local women, on the other hand, dress more modestly. You shall see the most traditional of them wearing burkini bathing suits that hide their hair and cover most parts of their bodies – just like the Hijab.

So, don’t leave your swimsuits at home. The hot weather in Dubai will surely make you drive to the beach and have a splash. The same goes for men; swimming trunks and board shorts are most welcome, and going topless is a common sight at the beach. 

What to wear when visiting a mosque in Dubai?

Entering a mosque is a completely different subject. This is one of those places wherein you cannot just “come as you are.”

You may be disallowed to come inside the mosque should they find your outfit not suitable for this spiritual environment. Do your part and cover up when you know that part of your day’s itinerary will involve entering a mosque. Konduras and abayas are sometimes provided at the mosque for tourists to use for free.  

Dubai dress code what to wear in a mosque in dubai
Dubai dress code: Wearing abaya inside the mosque

What to wear in Dubai during Ramadan

This is the time of the year that you have to be very careful of what you wear. The month of Ramadan is holy to Muslims, and they are particular with the dresses of the people in public places.

Aside from customs that visitors need to adapt during this month such as not drinking any liquid in public during fasting, everyone is called to be at their modest outfits and behavior to show high respect to the locals who are devoting this month to ardent prayer and reflection.

Avoid sleeveless outfits and short shorts – basically anything that shows off too much skin for both men and women, give them all a rest. This might be challenging to many as Ramadan falls on some of the hottest months in Dubai. 

What to wear on a camel ride in Dubai?

A trip to Dubai will not be complete without enjoying the Desert Safari. It can be very hot in the morning but very cold at night, so be ready to switch into cold gear when the sun sets. At daytime, opt for some loose clothing and sandals that will keep the sand from weighing down your feet.

Bring your cap, beach hat, sunglasses and a pashmina scarf to protect you from the sandy blows of the wind. 

What happens if you don’t follow the dress code in Dubai?

Highly provocative outfits, see-through garments and crossdressing are all frowned upon.

Locals and other people will not be shy to call your attention. When this happens, remain calm, say your apologies and consider going back to your hotel and changing your outfit. Resisting criticism or showing anger towards the concerned or offended local might just escalate the situation. In this case, the Dubai police will most likely get involved.

What to wear in Dubai for women:

During Summer

During Winter

What to wear in Dubai for men:

During Summer

During Winter

I hope that this guide on the Dubai dress code helped you to plan your holiday outfit for your visit to the cosmopolitan city of UAE.

Have you been to Dubai?
Share your travel experience below!

Dubai Dress Code What to wear in Dubai as a tourist


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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