Girl in red dress with Dubai skyline

What to Wear in Dubai – Sensible Advice From a Local

This article has links to products and services we love, which we may make commission from.

If you are planning a trip to Dubai, the first question on your mind must be, what should I wear in Dubai? The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country which follows the Sha’aria law. 

All tourists and residents are always required to dress modestly, no matter how hot the climate. That is why a lot of people wonder how to dress in Dubai before they book their trip. 

A tourist will not end up in jail if they aren’t dressed properly. They might get some stern looks from other people, and a security guard would kindly advise them to cover up. It’s not worth offending the locals. 

When you’re visiting any country, it’s always good to obey their laws and respect the local culture. 


» Don’t miss our jam-packed Dubai itinerary


Weather in Dubai

It’s very comfortable to visit Dubai between November-March. 

These are the cooler months when most tourists arrive because it’s easier to do more outdoor activities. The temperatures during these months can be between 20-35 Degrees Celsius.

From April-October it can be very hot and sticky. The hottest months are from May-September. That’s when the temperatures are around (35-55 Degrees Celsius). 

It’s essential to find the right balance between modesty and dressing comfortably, especially during the summer months. 

Dubai is the most liberal city in the United Arab Emirates. It’s nothing like Saudi Arabia, so you don’t have to wear clothes that are too conservative. Women are allowed to show their hair, arms, and legs. There’s no objection to that at all. But there’s a limit. 


Why does Dubai have Clothing Rules

A lot of people ask what can you wear in Dubai. When it comes to finding the right clothes to wear in Dubai, it’s not the Sha’aria law that solely determines the dress codes. 

Dubai is a very family-friendly city. The government expects you to dress modestly to protect families and their children.

A lot of kids are raised in conservative homes. They don’t want to see people wearing speedos or bikinis at the mall, no matter how lit your summer bod is. 

That’s the main reason behind the clothing rules in Dubai. When you’re packing outfits for your trip, think about what’s appropriate enough for children to see you wear in a public place.

Blonde women wearing sunglasses posing near a Dubai boat


What Should Tourists Wear in Dubai?

It depends on where you are planning to go. Some areas of Dubai are more conservative than others. If you are in Jumeirah or Downtown Dubai, you’ll see people dressed more casually. 

If you go to some parts of old Dubai, such as the Spice Souk, it’s wise to dress more modestly. 

The summer months in Dubai can reach up to 55 degrees Celsius. The heat can be very overpowering, making it difficult to breathe. It’s best to wear light and airy cotton clothes because you will sweat a lot! 

Since it’s so hot outside, all the indoor spaces have the air conditioning on full blast, and it can feel very cold. This has always been a problem for people in Dubai. 

You might be a little sweaty in a sleeveless summer dress while watching the fountain show, and then suddenly wish you had long sleeves when you step inside Dubai Mall. 


Shopping at the Mall

Local families are often shopping at malls across Dubai. You can dress as casually as you want, as long as it’s appropriate. You can wear shorts in Dubai. Even skirts, if they are at knee length and not shorter than that. 

Dubai Women’s Clothing: What you CAN wear

  • Knee-length dresses with short sleeves, or sleeveless
  • T-shirts
  • Pants
  • Jeans 
  • Shorts and Skirts 
  • Any Tops and Tank Tops
  • Long dresses
  • Any shoes, flip flops, sandals, etc. 

Dubai Women’s Clothing: What you CANNOT wear

  • Dresses that are too tight and fitted
  • Clothes that are see-through
  • Swimsuits and bikinis
  • Tops where your bra can be seen
  • Any clothes that reveal too much cleavage
  • Shorts or skirts that are too short (no bums hanging out please)
  • Clothes that do not cover the midriff area
  • T-shirts with inappropriate slogans or jokes – they might be funny to some but also offensive to others. 

Dubai Men’s Clothing: What you CAN wear

  • Cotton Pants
  • Jeans
  • Trousers
  • Shorts knee length)
  • Any Shirts and t-shirts
  • Singlets 
  • Suits – if you dare to in the summer months – read Two Scots Abroad’s guide to travel pants
  • Any Shoes, Sandals, Flip Flops, etc. 

Dubai Men’s Clothing: What you CANNOT wear

  • Singlets which hang too low
  • Any shirts or pants that might be see-through
  • Tight pants – no one cares if you have a good-looking backside like David Beckham
  • Shirts that are too small and reveal your tummy, soz Dad bods
  • Swimsuits 

In the malls in Dubai, you can wear anything that makes you feel comfortable. Just be mindful of the fact that there are a lot of families and children there. 

Do not wear swimsuits or bikinis at a mall. Do not walk around shirtless even if you have just come from the beach. 

If you have any tattoos that might offend someone, please make sure your outfit covers them properly. 

Man sandboarding in desert


Going to the Beach

There are public and private beaches in Dubai. Many popular hotels have their own private beaches and swimming pools. 

They are more open to letting tourists wear anything they want to. Families and children in hotels are often on holiday themselves so the atmosphere is different. 

Public beaches, on the other hand, are where local families go to. A lot of them can be conservative. 

On Fridays, a lot of local laborers spend time at the beach as well and they’re mostly men. That’s why it’s wise to dress appropriately to avoid getting stared at. 

Note: It was recently reported that just under 300 people had been caught taking images of women on beaches in Dubai. 


Dubai Women’s Clothing: What you CAN wear on Private Beaches 

  • Any and all kinds of bikini tops and bottoms
  • Any swimsuit – no see-through material or G-strings

Dubai Women’s Clothing: What you CAN wear on Public Beaches and Waterparks

  • One-piece swimsuits
  • Sports suits
  • Wet suits
  • Burkinis

The Dubai dress code for males at beaches is simpler. They can wear any swimsuit on BOTH private and public beaches and waterparks except for bottoms that are white in color. 

White swimsuits become transparent and see-through when you come out of the water. Please be mindful of other people on the beaches.

Dubai beach with skyline


Clothes to Wear in Dubai for Brunch or Dinner

Brunch in Dubai

Restaurants that host all-you-can-eat brunch buffets in Dubai are mostly in hotels because they are licensed venues allowed to serve alcohol. 

Each hotel has its own dress code, so it’s always best to check their website when you’re booking a table. 

Since brunch is usually on Friday afternoons, the dress code is very casual. Both men and women can wear the same comfortable clothes as they would in a mall. 

Please don’t wear a swimsuit even if you have just been to the hotel pool.

Always make sure you’re wearing shoes because they do turn people away for arriving barefoot after a swim. 

Some brunches also have certain themes during the year.

For example, on Halloween, hotels around Dubai might host a brunch and encourage you to wear a scary costume. 

A few brunch restaurants have had The Great Gatsby theme, where people had to dress in character. Let your imagination run wild and just make sure you’re not close to being naked. 

A typical Dubai brunch sells all-you-can-drink alcohol packages. It’s very easy to get inebriated in no time.

Make sure you choose an outfit where you will still look respectable by the end of the day. 

Do not wear anything that might fall and expose any private parts. If you have any tops with straps around the neck, make sure they are tied properly. 


Dinner in Dubai

If you are planning to have dinner at restaurants which aren’t in hotels, the dress code for both males and females is mostly casual. 

You can wear any dresses, t-shirts, tops, pants, jeans, shorts, or skirts. Any shoes are acceptable as long as you’re not barefoot. Make sure you are not wearing anything see-through or revealing which could possibly ruin somebody else’s meal. 

If the restaurant is in a nice hotel such as Skyview Bar in Burj Al Arab or Atmosphere in Burj Khalifa, the dress code would be either smart-casual or formal attire. Here you can wear evening cocktail dresses, skirts, dress shirts, pants, suits, etc. 

The top hotels won’t allow you to enter in shorts, and tank tops. Even if some of them do, it will feel uncomfortable to stick out because most people in Dubai love to get glammed up for a nice dinner. 

They might not allow flip flops either, so it’s always better to have some closed dress shoes. 

Most restaurants and hotels in Dubai will state their dress code rules on their website or social media pages. Make sure to have a quick read when you’re booking a table. You can also phone them before your reservation to ask about the dress code, and they’ll be happy to clarify any questions. 


Nightlife in Dubai

Apart from Barasti Bar, most clubs are in hotels. The dress code for both men and women in Dubai clubs is smart casual to glam. 

Clubs

Clubbing in Dubai is very expensive. A pint of beer can cost upwards of $20 each unless they have Ladies Nights where women get free drinks. 

Bouncers can be very judgmental and analyze each person from head to toe to determine if they should be let in or not. The more you dress up and the richer you look, the better chances you’ll have of getting in.

The famous clubs such as White Dubai, Cavalli Club, and Club Boudoir want a very specific clientele and judge people’s outfits most harshly.

Both men and women are expected to get glammed up and look like social media influencers to fit in. 

Most women wear bandage dresses with high heels. Although heels are very uncomfortable to dance in, a lot of women get turned away if they’re not wearing them.

They can also wear smart casual tops and pants, as long as they have the right heels as well. 

Men are expected to wear dress shirts and pants. Never wear sports trainers because they won’t let you in. Make sure to have proper dress shoes for clubbing. 

These kinds of clubs have strict rules for entry and they’re very expensive, but they also host live concerts with famous celebrities and international DJ’s. So, it’s worth a visit if you want to see Akon or Armin Van Buuren perform live. 


Pubs and Bars

A lot of hotels also have cozy pubs and sports bars. These have a much more casual atmosphere and are easy to get in. 

Women can wear any tops, jeans, pants, dresses, skirts, shorts, and casual shoes like sandals or trainers. No flip flops or bikinis. 

Men can wear any shirts, t-shirts, jeans, pants, shorts, and casual shoes such as trainers. No flip flops or singlets. 

Barasti is a popular bar on the beach so people can also wear flip flops there if they want to. A lot of people also wear swimsuits and go to the restaurant with a towel around their waist. 

This is fine to do in the afternoon, but when the bar is packed in the evening the atmosphere changes and people are expected to get a little more dressed. 


Going on Tours in Dubai

Since all the tourist hotspots are in family-friendly areas, it’s important to dress semi-conservatively. 

The safest thing to do is wear casual outfits as if you were going to Dubai Mall. This is because most tours are in the new part of Dubai, and there are fewer conservative people there. 

Women can wear dresses, shorts, t-shirts, skirts, tops, jeans, pants, etc. 

Men can wear shirts, t-shirts, pants, shorts, jeans, etc. 

Make sure nothing is too revealing or too short. Nothing that is see-through at all.

For other tours that are in the old part of Dubai such as Deira Spice Souk and Dubai Museum, people are more conservative. There are also more mosques in these areas so it’s important to dress modestly.


» Here’s a guide to the most popular Dubai tours


Dubai Dress Code for Female Tourists Visiting Souks and Museums

Women should not wear shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops. Otherwise, you will get stared at by a lot of the locals.

It’s better to wear t-shirts and jeans, or pants. A summer dress is fine if it’s not sleeveless, see-through, or too short. Make sure everything is at least knee-length. Long dresses are the best option.

If you want to get a little bit more cultural, you could purchase a Salwar Kameez. 

ASalwar Kameez is very comfortable, especially in the heat. There are many beautiful and colorful options to choose from. It consists of loose cotton trousers called “Salwar,” and a knee-length tunic called “Kameez.” Some of them also come with a shawl called “Dupatta,” to wrap around.

If you have seen the Shahs of Persia, you might have heard about Caftans. A Caftan is a loose and flowy long gown, and you can choose some very beautiful designs. 

These are some examples of what can women wear in Dubai. If you forget to buy one before your trip, a lot of shops at the souks sell them. But the problem is that you will have to barter hard, to get a good price. The prices for these outfits can vary between $20-$70, depending on your bartering skills. 

Shopping with a friend who can speak Arabic or Urdu, will lead to an automatic discount. 

Since you’ll need to walk a lot to explore the souks, the best shoes to wear are trainers and sandals. Flip flops are also allowed for both men and women. 

Men can wear anything in these areas. Even shorts and singlets. Just be mindful to never walk around without a shirt no matter how hot it is. 

If men want to also feel a little cultural, they can wear a “Kurta Pajama.” This consists of a top tunic called the “Kurta,” and loose cotton pants called “Pajama.”  


Desert Safari Dubai Dress Code

When you’re going for a desert safari in Dubai, it’s important to dress as comfortably as possible. This is because you will spend an entire day there, and it’s going to be very hot. You will also get covered in sand. Make sure you wear clothes that are loose so that you can move about more easily.

The desert safaris are run by locals, and your driver might be conservative. You don’t have to be completely covered up, but women should avoid wearing short skirts, short shorts, and any revealing or see-through dresses.

It’s okay to wear sleeveless tops if the neckline isn’t too low. It does get chilly in the desert after sunset, so it’s better to wear a bit of sleeve. Shorts need to be knee-length. 

The best outfit for women in the desert is a Caftan. Or any long dress, pants, shirts, and t-shirts. Jeans are also allowed but you might feel very uncomfortable in them when it’s hot. 

Men can wear shirts, t-shirts, shorts, and any pants. They can also wear singlets, but it gets cold at night, so it’s better to wear a shirt over the singlet. 

Sandals are the best to wear in the desert. Try not to lose them in the sand, or you can buy sandals which have a strap around the ankles. 

Flip flops are very easy to lose because they will slip off your feet when you’re walking on a sand dune. 

You can also wear trainers, but then you’ll have to keep dusting the sand out of them. 


» You may also like: How to choose the best desert safari tour in Dubai


Happy man in Dubai desert wearing head scarf


Dubai Airport Dress Code

Dubai airport is a place where you want to make a good impression because you’ll meet Emirati immigration officers. If they feel that you are not dressed appropriately, it will give them a bad impression about letting you into the country. 

Tourists don’t have to be fully covered up at the airport. 

There isn’t a particularly strict Dubai airport dress code. Women can wear long dresses, tops, shirts, t-shirts, pants, hoodies, sweaters, and jeans. 

It’s best to avoid wearing any sleeveless shirts, sleeveless dresses, mini-skirts, and short shorts. 

There’s a lot of walking in Dubai airport because it’s so big. It’s best to avoid any high heels and wear comfortable trainers or sandals instead. Even flip flops are okay. 

Men can wear shorts, t-shirts, shirts, hoodies, sweaters, pants, and jeans. Avoid wearing any singlets. 

Men can also wear trainers, sandals, regular shoes, or flip flops. 

If you have a lot of tattoos, even if they might not be offensive, it’s better to cover them up as much as possible.

Some immigration officials might frown upon seeing too many tattoos. Tattoos aren’t illegal, but it’s better to cover them up out of respect. 


Packing for Dubai

A lot of flights on Emirates Airlines offer 20 kilos per passenger, which is a generous amount. But it’s always better to pack less on holiday. Here’s what you should take with you to Dubai:

Dubai Packing List for Women

  • Vests
  • Tops and t-shirts
  • Skirts -not too short
  • Dresses – knee-length, long, with sleeves and sleeveless
  • Cardigan or hoodie – it’s freezing inside malls
  • Shorts (Not too short)
  • Comfy pants
  • Jeans
  • Salwar Kameez or caftan 
  • Sandals
  • Trainers and socks
  • Flip flops
  • Heels for clubbing
  • Evening dress – for clubbing or fancy dinner
  • Bathroom products – toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, sanitary products, etc.
  • Makeup
  • Sunscreen and moisturizer
  • Phones, phone chargers and charger packs
  • Cameras and chargers
  • Passport and visa documents
  • A sense of adventure

Girl in pretty white Caftans on desert sand


Dubai Packing List for Men

  • Shirts
  • T-shirts
  • Pants – like the stylish travel pants by Bluffworks
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Suit jacket 
  • Sweater
  • Hoodie
  • Trainers and socks
  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Bathroom products (toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving cream, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)
  • Sunscreen and moisturizer
  • Phones, phone chargers and charger packs
  • Cameras and camera chargers
  • Passport and visa documents
  • A sense of adventure

General Dubal Packing Tips

Most hotels will have soaps and towels etc. That way, you won’t have to pack a lot more things to take to Dubai. 

Bringing medication is difficult from overseas. You will need to have a doctor’s letter for all your medication. Some medications are completely banned in Dubai, such as Tramadol. 

If you do need to bring banned medicine into the country, the customs officer might make an exception for you depending on your doctor’s letter and medical condition. 

It might also help to have a printout of some of your bookings. This is just in case you have difficulty getting an internet connection to access them later. 

Dubai has now started offering free SIM cards for tourists when they arrive at the airport. Feel free to grab one and activate it on your phone. This is perfect for emergencies because it will have 3 minutes of talk time, 20MB of data, and 5 SMS. 

If you want more minutes and data during your trip. All the malls have Etisalat and DU shops that you can go to. Both companies have special offers for tourists to stay connected during their stay. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Have to Cover Up in Dubai?

Not in an extreme way. Dubai is not like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Everyone is free to wear anything they like over here if it’s decent enough. People can wear sleeveless tops and shorts too. The only exception is the conservative parts of Dubai. The police won’t arrest anyone, but you might get stared at, which is an uncomfortable experience. If you go to a government building such as the Dubai court, then it’s better to wear long sleeve tops over pants, or any long dresses that cover the shoulders and chest well. 

What Not to Wear in Dubai?

Anything that is too short, or see-through. Avoid wearing sleeveless outfits in old parts of Dubai, such as the Spice Souk. Don’t wear trainers to go to clubs. Also, avoid any tops or dresses that might show too much cleavage. It’s best not to wear backless dresses. Don’t wear t-shirts that might have any rude jokes, as they might offend someone. 

What Clothes to Wear in Dubai?

Tops that cover your shoulders and have half sleeves. Long sleeve shirts, Jeans, Pants, Shorts (Up to Knee Length), Summer Dresses, Caftans, Salwar Kameez, and Skirts that are also up to knee length. 

Can You Wear a Bikini in Dubai?

Yes! Bikinis are allowed on most beaches. The only problem is that on a public beach such as the one next to Burj Al Arab, a lot of local families and laborers go there. They might feel uncomfortable and stare. On private beaches which are attached to many hotels, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear bikinis since a lot of other tourists will too. Then you won’t stand out as much. 

What to Wear in Dubai in December?

December is the most pleasant month in Dubai. It can also be very windy during this time and a little cold. Most people wear hoodies and sweaters over any jeans or trousers. 

What to Wear in Dubai in January?

January is one of the colder months. But cold in Dubai is around 20-30 degrees Celsius. A light cardigan or a hoodie would be best. 

What to Wear in Dubai in February?

February is also one of the cooler months in Dubai. It’s also a very rainy month with a few sandstorms. Bring an umbrella with you and a scarf to wrap around your face, in case you do get caught outside during a sandstorm. A sandstorm in Dubai is nothing like the one they showed on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It’s gentle, but still annoying having little bits of sand get inside your eyes, ears, and mouth. 

What to Wear in Dubai in March?

March is when the weather starts getting much warmer. There might still be a few rainy days but not as much as February. It still isn’t hot enough to wear summer clothes. Any tops or t-shirts with pants, skirts, or shorts will be enough.  

What to Wear in Dubai in October?

October is when it just starts getting cooler in Dubai, but it’s still a little warm. You should wear light clothing and carry a sweater or hoodie with you. 

Can Women Wear Shorts in Dubai?

Yes, they can. As long as the shorts aren’t too short. If they are knee-length or a little above the knees, it’s fine. Women should refrain from wearing shorts in parts of old Dubai. 

Can Men Wear Shorts in Dubai?

Yes. Men can wear shorts too. The only time they should avoid wearing shorts is if they are visiting a mosque or government building (courts). 

Can You Wear Flip Flops in Dubai?

Yes, you can wear Flip Flops anywhere you go in Dubai. The only time you shouldn’t wear them is if you’re at a really nice hotel. It’s also best not to wear them in the desert because they’re very easy to lose in the sand dunes. 

What to Pack for Dubai?

Dubai is all about the shopping experience, so you don’t want to bring too much with you.

Just pack enough clothes and shoes. Prepare to buy some new ones too when you get here.

Most hotels offer toiletries and other amenities. In case you forget to bring sunscreen, there are many shops and pharmacies to buy it from.

Avoid bringing medication because a lot of them are banned here. 


Save for future planning

What to wear in Dubai, Dubai packing list, what to wear in Dubai in summer, what to wear in Dubai in winter, Dubai packing list women, Dubai packing list men, Dubai packing list summer, Dubai packing list for beaches, Dubai packing tips, best clothes to pack for Dubai, what to buy for Dubai for women and men, packing tips Dubai hiking, best things to wear while in Dubai, how to dress for Dubai, Dubai packing checklist, Dubai itinerary, Dubai vacation, Dubai itinerary nightlife, Dubai outfits, Dubai travel tips, Dubai beach, Dubai luxury, Dubai Mall, Dubai desert


Final Words

The dress code in Dubai for tourists is very relaxed compared to other cities in the region. The only condition is that people should be considerate of families with children in public places. 

There are plenty of private hotels and beaches that allow tourists to wear bikinis, but then people should put on a top and pants before going to the mall. Some parts of Dubai are a little more conservative. In those areas, it’s better to cover up the shoulders and legs a little more. 

Police in Dubai does not arrest people for their clothing unless they are publicly in the nude, which is extremely rare. Even if you wear something a little too revealing, the most trouble you will get is a few bad looks and warnings from others. 

My sister saw a woman in Dubai Mall wearing a swimsuit top and shorts. Even though that isn’t technically allowed, she was more concerned about the woman catching a cold, rather than wanting to tell her off. 

That’s how cold malls in Dubai are with so much air conditioning. The locals become more sympathetic about tourists getting sick than what they are wearing. 


Author Bio: Shipra has lived in Dubai for over 30 years and has always been dressed appropriately the entire time. She enjoys how relaxed Dubai is when it comes to clothing. She has never seen anybody get arrested for wearing shorts.  

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *