Dubai Dress Code: How to Dress in Dubai |

Dubai Dress Code: What You Should and Shouldn't Wear

Some might think these aren't enforced, but the rules are definitely in place

Posted on

31 July 2013

Last updated on 8 January 2019
Dubai Dress Code: What You Should and Shouldn't Wear

Dubai has a dress code based on respect for the culture and religion of the UAE.

The Dubai dress code is not hard to follow and will make your visit/ stay here a more pleasant one and will help you avoid causing any of the many nationalities here any offence.

In a nutshell whilst you are out in public you should have everything from your shoulders to knees covered- which is not hard to do! You should also not wear clothing that is too tight or see through. Cleavage should also be covered as much as possible.

SEE ALSO: Dubai dress code mistakes that are easily avoidable

To help you prepare and build your Dubai wardrobe, here are the dress restrictions and clothing rules in Dubai you should follow while here.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Public places the dress code applies to includes malls, markets, cinemas, on the street, on the road in your car, super markets, public areas of hotels etc.
  • You can wear what you want in your home.
  • Round pools or at the beach bikinis or swimsuits must be worn- topless bathing is not allowed and it's best not to wear thong type bottoms.
  • A common problem seems to be when people come from the beach or pool and go to a shop or mall still wearing swimwear e.g. a bikini top with shorts, a bikini with a short or see through cover up over, a wet swimsuit under clothing that then makes the clothing see through, a see through sarong worn over a swimsuit or bikini. This is not acceptable- so make sure you get fully redressed after being by the pool or sea.
  • After the gym get fully clothed again as people have been seen at the petrol station shop in crop tops and short shorts- this too will cause offence.
  • Underwear should be covered at all times- no briefs, g- strings, bras etc on show or viewable through fabric.

Wardrobe Staples

  • Pashminas- these are great and handy cover-ups for all sorts of cirumstances- have one in your car for emergencies too. Perfect for a night out if you need to cover up in between venues too.
  • Capri pants- these are great as they are not full length so your lower legs still keep cool.
  • Boleros- these are perfect to enable you to wear strappy tops and dresses and still keep your shoulders covered- get ones with a cap or short sleeve so you will still be cool and not have too much clothing weight added during the heat.
  • Leggings- if you have a dress that is really a little bit too short and not covering your knees but you still want to wear it out and about- throw some lightweight leggings on underneath and voila you are ready to go out.
  • Cardigans- these are great to cover shoulders too- and the AC in malls and cinemas can get a bit arctic sometimes so you will be glad of the benefit.
Dubai Dress Code: What You Should and Shouldn't Wear

Wardrobe No- No's

  • Lycra body con dresses
  • Daisy Duke shorts
  • Micro minis
  • Belly/ crop tops
  • Tube tops/ boob tubes
  • Very short playsuits
  • Anything with cut out or see through panels
  • Mesh or Lace tops or dresses (these are ok if worn with something underneath)

What To Do If Someone Approaches You About Your Dress

If you are inappropriately dressed you may be approached and something said to you by various people- a security guard, a colleague, a local lady, an expat etc. You will be surprised how many people would be offended or will want to advise you.

Whatever happens stay calm and remain polite. Apologise and depending on where you are- either say you will go home, back to the hotel to change or if you are in a mall offer to pop into a shop to buy something to cover up.

How to behave in Dubai - a guide to Dubai etiquette for expats and tourists

There is no point getting angry as you have caused offence somehow and the last thing you want is for the police to become involved in something that is easily fixed with an apology and a quick outfit adjustment.

Go grab/ buy a pashmina quick!

Government & Municipality Buildings

When visiting an official government or Dubai Municipality building, you may be offered an abaya to wear by an official upon your arrival. The Dubai Courts do this often, and the introduction of this new service in other service centres across the Emirate is to ensure customer satisfaction since there have been many complaints about "scantily-clad" women in public spaces and in the Dubai Municipality's centres.

Common Excuses

  • It's so hot in Dubai I want to wear as little clothes as possible- yes it is hot but everywhere indoors has AC and you should also be covering up from the suns harmful rays to avoid skin cancer too.
  • I am only popping to do the school run- yes but you are possibly getting out of the car or you may break down on the way.
  • I am doing sport so am not dressing provactively- yes but the dress code of covering shoulders and knees applies in a lot of gyms too- you will be in mixed company.
  • I can wear what I want- yes but do you really want to walk round causing offence to many people?
  • Everyone else is doing it- yes but don't you want to be a respectful person.
Dubai Dress Code: What You Should and Shouldn't Wear

Rules For Men

1. Bare chests are not allowed in public
2. Shorts should be to the knee
3. Swimwear should not be worn away from a pool or beach e.g. don't walk down the street in your trunks