Dubai remains one of my favourite places to visit especially if you love to dress up while on holiday. I have been travelling there for years, and the most common question asked is about what to wear in Dubai. Well, believe it or not, Dubai is very liberal when it comes to fashion. Visitors should be respectful of the Muslim culture but are not expected to cover themselves up from head to toe, use common sense and dress according to the activities you are going to be doing in Dubai.
This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. Read the full disclaimer here.
I have given my suggestions as a guide for what to wear in Dubai.
Dubai Hotel Dress Code
Guests from all around the world stay in the glittering and opulent hotels in Dubai and as such, have an eclectic range of styles. Around your hotel, you can pretty much wear what you want, and if like myself you enjoy the thrill of dressing up, then you will have some pretty expensive outfits in your closet.
If you are staying for a week then I would make sure you pack the following so that you can dress to impress:
What to Wear in Dubai – Evening Dresses
3 x Maxi Evening Dresses (with or without sleeves for dinner – I rotate the dresses each evening so you will wear each item at least twice)
3 x Shawls (for warmth in winter evenings and I always feel these set off a beautiful dress)
A selection of real or costume jewellery and accessories to wear in the evenings (it’s all about looking fabulous)
3 x Evening Shoes and Matching Clutch Bags (think Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik)
What to Wear in Dubai – Day Dresses
3 x Day Dresses (to wear at lunch)
2 x Sandals (to compliment your day dresses)
1 x Panama hat (to keep the blistering sun off your face)
2 x Pair of sunglasses (you will notice Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, YSL eyewear everywhere in Dubai)
Dubai Hotel Pool and Beach Dress Code
This is an area that people seem most concerned about as you are basically on display to the world. You will, of course, see some of the Muslim ladies dressed in all-in-one covered swimsuits but as a visitor, you are free to wear swimsuits or bikinis (to go topless, however, is a complete no-no). Parade around the poolside in your most beautiful swimwear and kaftan whilst enjoying the Dubai sunshine.
Whilst you can wear whatever you like around the hotel pool and private beach when you go into the hotel for lunch you will need to cover up. Non-residents will also be dining at your hotel and will not appreciate a bikini-clad body at the next table.
Beachwear should consist of:
What to Wear in Dubai – Swimwear
3 x Swimsuits/bikinis (thong bottoms should be avoided)
What to Wear in Dubai – Kaftans
3 x Kaftans/cover-ups
4 x T-shirts
2 x Shorts
2 x Flip-flops/non-slip flat sandals
Hat and Sunglasses as above.
If you don’t see what you like here, then luxury Designers like Melissa Odibash or Heidi Klein have a fabulous range of swimwear and accessories that are perfect for Dubai.
Dubai City Restaurant and Mall Dress Code
Once out of the comfort of your hotel and its flexible attitude, you will need to dress according to where you are going. Time and time again, I have seen visitors to the malls and restaurants dressed in skimpy shorts and crop tops with no thought for the culture of Dubai. It is offensive to the local people to see women dressed in this way, and while everyone has the freedom of choice, you must respect the traditions of the country you are visiting.
You will see ladies dressed in a black floor-length burqa (robe) with only their eyes on display with their husband dressed in a white floor-length thawb (robe) wearing the traditional headdress. Alongside you will see ladies dressed in fabulous creations ready to shop at their favourite designer stores whilst teenagers will be in jeans and trainers. Fashion in Dubai is diverse and sometimes controversial, but always interesting. A vast amount of local Muslim followers choose not to wear traditional garments and instead opt for more western-styles, always looking sensational.
What to Wear Shopping and Dining
Dress conservatively for your trip and remember that the air-conditioning can get quite chilly after a while, so a shawl is a good idea.
1 x Pallazo Trousers (flowing and not figure-hugging so these will make you look so elegant)
1 x Embellished t-shirt that covers the shoulders (remember to respect the culture away from the hotel environment)
1 x knee-length skirt
1 x blouse (not sheer material)
1 x 3/4 Capri pants
1 x Blouse over the top (think Mediterannean style)
1 x Shoulder Bag
Most upmarket restaurants will allow a lady to wear sandals; however, a man must wear long trousers and closed shoes. Only the Emirati men in national dress are allowed to wear open-toed sandals. Just remember no sheer materials and no overtly tight clothing that over-emphasises your figure in a provocative manner.
Luxury fashion is all about looking elegant whilst stylish, and this can be achieved if you use my guidelines. Net-a-Porter is a fabulous fashion site that lists wonderful luxury items which would perfectly suit the Dubai scene.
Dubai Mosque Dress Code
Forget the liberal attitude to your choice of dress when it comes to visiting a mosque. Not all are open to non-muslim visitors, but all have strict rules. Ladies must wear an outfit that covers the arms, legs and head. Men must cover legs and arms though short-sleeves are allowed. Footwear is removed before entry into the mosque.
I have not visited one in Dubai, but I have been inside the Shiekh Zayad Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and the rules are as above. Mosque staff will loan you a head to toe abaya (robe) to cover your body if you are not wearing the correct clothes yourself.
My suggestion of what to wear when visiting a mosque would be:
1 x Palazzo pants (wide and flowing) and a scarf to cover hair and head (your face can remain uncovered)
1 x Cotton Long-Sleeved Tunic style blouse (pay attention that no cleavage is on display)
Make sure your clothes do not emphasise your shape too much and are not a sheer or see-through material.
Dubai Desert Safari Dress Code
What to wear in the desert depends on your activities, think wisely about your footwear, sand will get everywhere. While you are away from the city, you still want to look elegant whilst being comfortable. No-one can mount a camel in a maxi dress unless they hitch it around their thighs and no-one wants to go dune-bashing without a scarf to cover facial parts!
The main objective is to enjoy yourself, so I suggest that the following items are worn:
1 x Linen shorts (just to the knee) and
Enclosed trainers (who wants sand between their toes)
1 x Coloured t-shirt (don’t wear white as the sand will discolour it)
If you are sleeping overnight in the desert, then take some warm clothes with you. A jumper, lightweight jacket and trousers. Even though temperatures soar during the day, desert evenings can be quite chilly once the sun has set.
The main thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and not to worry about your outfit. If you are feeling fabulous, then you will ooze confidence wherever you go and if you want to buy something glamourous to wear, then head to the Dubai Mall where you will be spoilt for choice.
You May Also Like to Read