What to Wear in Dubai as a Tourist or Expat

With Dubai a Muslim nation, many who are visiting the Emirati city want to be respectful. Whilst you may often embrace skimpier outfits when in hotter climates, you may be asking yourself if this would be appropriate for your time in Dubai.

It’s assumed that Dubai has some strict rules, but how stringent are they? If you’re at all puzzled about what to pack when jetting off to Dubai our guide below will help you decide what to wear.

Why should I even consider what to wear in Dubai?

Whilst Dubai has a large expat population and is considered the most multicultural Emirati state the official and dominant religion is Islam. The Muslim faith promotes dressing modestly. Whilst you may not practice Islam yourself, being respectful of the Arabic culture is important when visiting Dubai.

Whilst you are unlikely to be questioned about your attire on a day-to-day basis, unless it’s particularly revealing, during Ramadan modest dressing will be enforced regardless of your personal religion or beliefs.

Dressing for the weather in Dubai

Even in the winter months, Dubai is a warm country. November to April are the cooler months, with temperatures falling between 20 and 25°c. Dressing modestly during this period tends to be easier as you don’t feel as hot.

When May begins expect temperatures to hop above 30°c, peaking in July and August well above 35°C. Things start to cool off in September but the average temperature is still above 30°c.

If you’re not from a hot country, dressing modestly in the Dubai heat can be a challenge. Naturally, you want to stick to swimwear, shorts, tank tops and the like. However, these aren’t always appropriate.

A saving grace for many visitors to Dubai is that air conditioning is commonplace. Apartments, hotels, supermarkets, taxis, shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, bars – you name it, they have air conditioning. It’s recommended to pack a light sweater or cardigan because, ironically, it can get a little chilly in some public locations.

Can you wear a bikini in Dubai?

What to wear in Dubai depends on where you are. However, a general rule is that your shoulders and knees should be covered regardless of where you are. Women typically wear maxi and midi dresses, whereas longer shorts or linen trousers are popular with men.

Undoubtedly you will want to enjoy Dubai’s wonderful beaches, pools, and waterparks. Swimwear is completely acceptable in these locations, and you will see people wearing everything from the tiniest trunks and bikinis to full Islamic swimwear. However, swimwear is only to be worn on the beach or around the pool.

You will need to cover up if you pop into a shop or restaurant. You will be denied entry or asked to leave if you haven’t followed the rules.

Can you wear shorts in Dubai?

When the weather is hot shorts are a staple in many wardrobes. Whilst they can be worn in Dubai they need to be, ideally, below the knee. Shorts can be worn at the beach or around the pool, but in other public settings knees will need to be covered.

Opting for trousers or skirts and dresses in linen or silk materials can be much more comfortable when battling the heat but wanting to dress modestly.

What not to wear in Dubai

Whilst pretty much anything goes if you’re at the beach or lounging around the pool, the following are items of clothing that should not be worn in public in Dubai:

  • Shorts above the knee
  • Low cut tops
  • See-through clothes
  • Short dresses or skirts
  • Clothes with cut-out sections
  • Halter neck and bandeau tops

Whilst you can certainly pack these items of clothing to take to Dubai, be aware that you may need to use a light sweater or shawl to cover up when needed.

Compared to other Emirati nations Dubai is relatively relaxed when it comes to clothing, as long as you make an effort to dress modestly. So, get your suitcase out and start preparing for your move or holiday to Dubai. Keep yourself safe whilst living in Dubai with International Health Insurance or International Travel Insurance if you’re visiting temporarily.

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