What to wear in Dubai
If you were to visit the site where Dubai now sits any time before the 18th century, you would find nothing but a stretch of barren desert and waterlands. Now, it’s a global hub for finance, innovation and luxury tourism. Famed for its ambitious, record-breaking building projects, this man-made spectacle is like nowhere else on the planet.
It was Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who once said “we want to be number one,” that catapulted the emirate into the epitome of wealth and luxury, after the discovery of oil and the removal of taxes for expats, which makes the city oh so glimmeringly attractive to immigrants and tourists alike.
Boasting some of the most fascinating man-made buildings and structures, including the Burj Khalifa, (the world’s largest skyscraper), the Burj Al Arab, (the first ever 7-star hotel), and the Palm Jumeirah, (the artificial palm tree-shaped island) to name just a few, and not to mention the pristine, bright white beaches and year-round hot climate, it’s clear to see why so many tourists flock to this artificial playground.
But planning what to wear for a trip to Dubai can be a little confusing for the first-timers, with ever-changing rules, conflicting advice from locals and fellow travellers, and of course, baking hot temperatures to take into consideration.
That’s why our expert team here at Good Trip have pulled together a handy guide on just what to wear in Dubai.
How strict is Dubai’s dress code?
The first thing you need to know about Dubai’s dress code is that whilst the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is indeed an Islamic country where locals keep their skin covered with traditional clothing, Dubai is a modern emirate and does not impose such strict rules.
Because Dubai attracts so many expats (almost 9 million in 2021) and year-round tourists, the dress code rules are much more lenient than the rest of the UAE and tourists are not expected to wear traditional cover ups, tunics, burqas or headscarves - it is however, highly recommended that the local culture is respected and if you’re planning a trip to Dubai, it’s best to dress as modestly as possible. For men, we’d recommend sticking to loose trousers rather than shorts, and long skirts or maxi dresses for women, covering up shoulders and arms as much as possible too. If you’re a female and concerned about not always having a top that covers your shoulders, perhaps consider packing a pashmina or scarf that you can wrap around yourself when exploring the city.
In a nutshell: you do not have to wear traditional cover ups as a tourist visiting Dubai. But dressing modestly that respects the local culture is highly encouraged.
It’s also important to keep the weather in mind when packing your bags. Dubai soaks up the sunshine all-year round due to its desert-like environment, with temperatures in the 20°C range in the winter, and highs of up to a scorching 45 °C in the summer.
If you’re visiting Dubai in summer when temperatures soar and the humidity is at its highest, we’d recommend opting for loose, breathable clothing if you want to still dress modestly whilst keeping cool in the heat. Materials such as linen, cotton and silk are fantastic for hot weather conditions as they are light, breathable and allow heat to escape the body.
Hotels, restaurants and clubs
Dress codes are even more lenient in Dubai’s modern hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, where shorts and shorter dresses are absolutely fine to wear. Even bikinis and swimming trunks are acceptable on public beaches, as well as private hotel beaches and pools, but not so much in public places (shopping malls, parks, the metro etc), so our best advice would be to bring cover ups in between beach trips to respect the local culture.
If of course you’re keen to carve some gnarly waves off Dubai’s coast, you might want to consider investing in a good wetsuit or surf vest to look and feel like a pro.
Here at Good Trip, our best advice for packing for a trip to Dubai would be to absolutely dress appropriately for the hot climate, whilst also keeping in mind the local values and culture to ensure the best trip possible. A little respect goes a long way!
Worried about forgetting something? Check out the Good Trip handy packing list to get your Dubai wardrobe ready…
Good Trip Dubai Packing List:
- Loose t-shirts, tops (ideally in cotton or linen)
- Loose trousers (again, in breathable fabrics)
- Long dresses / skirts (for ladies)
- Shorts (for hotels, and more private locations)
- A jacket (for the evenings, if visiting in the winter)
- Sandals or trainers
- A hat, for sun protection
- Suitable swimwear (for hotels and public beaches)
- Beach cover up