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What to Wear in Dubai: A Helpful Packing List for Ladies

What to Wear in Dubai: A Helpful Packing List for Ladies

Dubai remains one of my favourite places to visit, especially if you love dressing up on holiday. I have been travelling there for years, and the most common question I am always asked is what to wear in Dubai as a woman.

Well, believe it or not, Dubai is very liberal regarding fashion. Visitors should be respectful of the Muslim culture but are not expected to cover themselves up from head to toe; instead, use common sense and dress according to the things you will be doing in Dubai.

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Dubai Hotel Dress Code

Guests from 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. If you enjoy the thrill of dressing up, you will already have some beautiful outfits to bring to Dubai.

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

  • 3 x 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 in colours to compliment your dresses (for warmth in winter evenings, and I always feel these set off a beautiful dress)
  • 3 x Evening Shoes and Matching Clutch Bags (think Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik)
  • 3 x Day Dresses (to wear at lunch)
  • 2 x Sandals (to compliment your day dresses)

Accessories to wear in Dubai

  • 1 x Panama hat (to keep the blistering sun off your face)
  • Take a couple of pairs of sunglasses to match different outfits. You will notice Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, and YSL eyewear everywhere in Dubai; they are all the real deal!
  • A selection of real or costume jewellery and accessories to wear in the evenings (it’s all about looking fabulous)
Angie wearing a floor-length blue dress in Dubai.

Dubai Hotel Pool and Beach Dress Code

This is an area people seem most concerned about as you are basically on display to the world.

Of course, you will see some 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). So feel free to parade around the poolside in your most beautiful swimwear and kaftan whilst enjoying the Dubai sunshine.

While you can wear whatever you like around the hotel pool and private beach, you will need to cover up when you go into the hotel for lunch.

Non-residents will also dine at your hotel and will not appreciate a bikini-clad body at the next table. Beachwear should consist of the following:

  • 3 x Swimsuits/bikinis (thong bottoms should be avoided)
  • 3 x Kaftans/cover-ups
  • 4 x T-shirts
  • 2 x Shorts
  • 2 x Flip-flops/non-slip flat sandals

Dubai City Restaurant and Mall Dress Code

Once out of the comfort of your hotel and its flexible attitude, you must 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 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 and their husbands 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, while teenagers will wear jeans and trainers.

Fashion in Dubai is diverse and sometimes controversial but always interesting. Many 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 in Dubai

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)
  • or
  • 1 x knee-length skirt
  • 1 x blouse (not sheer material)
  • or
  • 1 x 3/4 Capri pants
  • 1 x Flowing blouse over the top (think Mediterranean style)
  • 1 x Shoulder Bag

Dubai Footwear Rules

Most upmarket restaurants will allow a lady to wear sandals; however, a man must wear long trousers and closed shoes. Only Emirati men in national dress are allowed to wear open-toed sandals. Remember, no sheer materials or overtly tight clothing that provocatively over-emphasises your figure.

Luxury fashion is all about looking elegant and stylish, which can be achieved using my guidelines.

Dubai Mosque Dress Code

Forget the liberal attitude to your choice of dress when 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 their 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 Zayed 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.

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)

Ensure your clothes do not emphasise your shape too much and are not a sheer or see-through material.

Angie wearing an orange scarf on her head in a mosque.

Dubai Desert Safari Dress Code

What to wear in the desert depends on your activities; consider your footwear, as 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!

Daytime Desert Wear

  • 1 x linen shorts (just to the knee)
  • 1 x coloured T-shirt (don’t wear white as the sand will discolour it)
  • 1 x lightweight scarf (to wear around the face when dune bashing)
  • Enclosed trainers (who wants sand between their toes)

Nightime Desert Wear

If you will be sleeping overnight in the desert, take warm clothes with you. Even though temperatures soar during the day, desert evenings can be chilly once the sun sets.

  • 1 x Jumper
  • 1 x Long pair of trousers (cargo style)
  • 1 x Lightweight Jacket

The main thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and not worry about your outfit.

If you are feeling fabulous, you will ooze confidence wherever you go, and if you want to buy something glamorous to wear, head to the Dubai Mall, where you will be spoilt for choice.

lady in Dubai wearing a long blue dress

You May Also Like to Read: 14 Best Things to See and Do on Holiday in Dubai

Please PIN for Future Travel to Dubai

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linda C.

Monday 16th of March 2020

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I truly loved surfing around your blog post. Many thanks for sharing this kind of information.


Monday 16th of March 2020

Thank You I am glad you enjoyed it. I have been to Dubai many times and it remains one of my favourite countries to visit.


Tuesday 24th of December 2019

Such a stylish looking setting

Sinjana Ghosh

Friday 13th of December 2019

This is a great guide to dressing in Dubai. I have never been to the middle east but there's always a confusion on the cultural do's and donts. thanks for sharing this.


Friday 13th of December 2019

You are welcome. I think a lot of ladies are put off by not knowing what is acceptable to wear so I hope it clears up any misconceptions. The Middle East is a wonderful place to visit.