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Dubai / Middle East

What to Wear in Dubai : A Packing Guide for Ladies

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.

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Pinterest Graphic Dubai

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)

Roman Originals Women Tropical Print Twist Front Maxi Dress – Ladies Summer Occasion Party Casual Holiday Bohemian Boho Beach Evening Long Floor Length Sleeveless V Neck – Orange – Size 18

3 x Shawls (for warmth in winter evenings and I always feel these set off a beautiful dress)

CJ Apparel Solid Colour Shawl Pashmina Scarf Wrap Shawls Pashminas Scarves Seconds (60+ colours) NEW, One Size, Teal Green Pantone 350

A selection of real or costume jewellery and accessories to wear in the evenings (it’s all about looking fabulous)

GULICX AAA Cubic Zirconia CZ Women’s Party Jewelry Set Fashion Earrings Pendant Necklace Silver Plated

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)

Hats

1 x Panama hat (to keep the blistering sun off your face)

DRESHOW Women Wide Brim Straw Summer Panama Roll up Hat Fedora Beach Sun Hat UPF61+

Sunglasses

2 x Pair of sunglasses (you will notice Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, YSL eyewear everywhere in Dubai)

Gucci Women’s Sonnenbrille GG0034S-002-54 Sunglasses, Black (Schwarz), 54

woman wearing a floor-length blue dress 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)

Aleumdr Women’s Spring Gradient Color O Neck Tummy Control Cross Belt Swimsuits One Piece Hot Beach Swimwear Bikini Red Medium

Happy Sailed Women’s High Cut Backless Swimming Costume Swimwear Beach Wear Swimwear Plus Size Orange

Seaspray SY007779 Women’s Paradise White Multicolour Floral Costume One Piece Crossover Swimsuit 16

What to Wear in Dubai – Kaftans

3 x Kaftans/cover-ups

Seaspray SY008202 Women’s Paisley Blue Beach Dress Cover-Up Multiway Kaftan One Size

EDOTON Beach Cover Up, Women’s Blouse Dress Crochet Pom Pom Trim Beach Tunic Swimsuit (UK 6-8/ Tag S, White)

T-Shirts

4 x T-shirts

Shorts

2 x Shorts

Flip-Flops/Sandals

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.

 

A woman wearing a blue kaftan on a beach in 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.

Trousers

1 x Pallazo Trousers (flowing and not figure-hugging so these will make you look so elegant)

T-Shirt

1 x Embellished t-shirt that covers the shoulders (remember to respect the culture away from the hotel environment)

or

Skirt

1 x knee-length skirt

Blouse

1 x blouse (not sheer material)

or

Capri Pants

1 x 3/4 Capri pants

Flowing Blouse

1 x Blouse over the top (think Mediterannean style)

Shoulder Bag

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.

A woman wearing a green knee length dress and a white jacket in Dubai

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.

woman wearing a scarf on her head in a mosque

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.

lady in Dubai wearing a long blue dress

a lady in a long red dress by a stairwell

 

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About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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linda C.
11 months ago

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.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  linda C.
11 months ago

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.

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago

Such a stylish looking setting

Sinjana Ghosh
Sinjana Ghosh
1 year ago

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.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sinjana Ghosh
1 year ago

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.

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