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What not to wear in Dubai

What not to wear in Dubai

Wondering about the Dubai dress code and what not to wear in Dubai? In this guide, an ex UAE expat breaks down what clothes are not allowed in Dubai with suggestions for alternatives to make sure you have a great time in Dubai while also not breaking any Dubai clothing rules.

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Note: While Dubai is in the UAE, the rules and accepted norms between each of the Emirates does differ so if you are visiting other places in the UAE be sure to check out our What Not to Wear in Abu Dhabi Guide.

Dubai Dress Code 

What not to Wear in Dubai / Dubai Dress Code Rules

Although Dubai is known as a modern city full of expats and amazing things to see and do it is worth remembering that Dubai is still an Islamic country and as such has rules relating to what to wear in Dubai.

The general rules for the Dubai dress code for both men and women is

  • Keep your shoulders covered
  • Keep your knees covered
  • Nothing overly revealing. 

Now while Dubai doesn’t enforce the dress code as much as say its neighbouring city Abu Dhabi or neighbouring country Qatar where the what not to wear in Qatar rules are more strictly enforced, it is worth remembering that citizens of Dubai tend to Muslim and as such have a more conservative sensibility when it comes to attire. It is respectful to try to adhere to these rules as much as possible even as a tourist in Dubai. 

These rules apply to both men and women. Lots of people assume that rules connect to the Dubai dress code are solely aimed at women but this isnt’t true.

Bearing this in mind there are definitely some things I would recommend not wearing in Dubai. And if you are visiting other countries in the region be sure to check out our wondering what to wear in the Middle East post which offers a helpful country comparison.

What not to wear in Dubai

What Not to Wear in Dubai
What Not to Wear in Dubai

Graphic / Offensive T shirts 

As I have mentioned previously Dubai is an Islamic country. As such there are rules about swearing and about public displays of affection etc. These rules should be considered when you are looking at what not to wear in Dubai. 

Do not wear anything that has offensive, swearing or curse language on. If you must wear something with a slogan make sure it is completely PG13. 

The same goes for anything that is sexually suggestive. Dubai is an Islamic country and it would be offensive to have anything sexually graphic on your clothing. Be sure to leave this at home.

Shorts (in some instances)

Now unlike in other Gulf countries such as Qatar you will see some people wearing shorts in Dubai. And I mean shorts that are not covering the knee area. 

Last time I was at Dubai Mall I saw all manner on outfits on display and nothing happened that I saw to anyone. However it doesn’t mean it is right and there are stories of people being stopped and asked to cover up. So save yourself and others the embarrassment. 

I would recommend only wearing shorts in Dubai that cover knee for modesty and to be respectful of the local laws. 

However there are some exceptions to this rule – read on to find out where. 

Strappy tops / Crop tops

Again, whenever I am in Dubai I see lots of strappy tops but in my opinion this doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean you couldn’t be stopped and asked to cover up more.  

I like to be respectful of the local culture wherever I travel and therefore I would leave the strappy tops at home in favour of something that covers my shoulder instead. 

Swimwear

Swimwear in Dubai is definitely something for beaches, beach clubs and poolside only. Do not wear swimwear outside of tehse settings. 

Crop Tops

As with the rules on shoulders and knees, midriffs should be kept covered at all times. Leave the crop tops at home for when you are out and about in Dubai. 

See Through Attire

Anything see through that reveals either underwear or body parts should definitiely be left at home. 

Dubai is part of an Islamic country and see through clothing would be offensive and disrespectful to locals. 

Visible underwear

As with the above, visible underwear would be disrespectful to your host country make sure you keep it covered when out in Dubai. 

Note: If you are traveling to the UAE you may also be interested in our what not to wear in Abu Dhabi guide also. 

Top tip for what not to wear in Dubai

Whenever I am traveling in Dubai or the rest of the middle east I always carry a pashmina with me. I do this for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, if you ever find yourself underdressed and need to cover yourself more a Pashmina can be used to give oyu a bit more modesty. 

Secondly,  being such a hot country everywhere you will go to in Dubai will have air conditioning. In fact pashminas are a must wear in Dubai Mall for  because the air conditioning tends to be fierce. Pashminas are great for being an extra layer in places like Dubai Mall and cinemas. 

Exceptions to the Dubai Dress code

5* Hotels & Beaches

5* hotels in Dubai aren’t subject ot the same Dubai dress code rules. You can wear as many shorts, strappy tops and bikinis as you like here. 

However please note that if you are going to a Dubai public beach the rules on what you can wear will be more strict. 

For instance at a public beach in Dubai you shouldn’t wear:

  • Thong bottoms 
  • Overly skimpy swimwear
  • See through clothing 
  • Lewd swimwear

Dubai Nightclub dress code

I must admit that Nightclibs really aren’t my thing but in Dubai dress code ruels do tend to go out of the window here. I suppose it makes sense as you are less likely to run into locals in a nightclub. 

FAQs about What Not to Wear in Dubai

Can tourists wear what they want in Dubai? Can you wear anything in Dubai?

Although whenever I visit Dubai I do see all manner of clothing I would advise you to be more conservative in your attire. 

So in answer to “Can you wear anything in Dubai?”, I would say my answer is no. As Dubai is in an Islamic country I would advise you to be modest and conservative in your dress sense and to follow all of the Dubai dress code rules

If you want to check out what to wear to different Dubai Attractions do check out our posts:

What clothes are not allowed in Dubai?

In terms of what clothes are not allowed in Dubai I would say they are 

·      Short shorts 

·      Strappy tops 

·      Crop tops and sports bras (when not doing sports)

Although you will see people in Dubai wearing all of the above my advice is to be considerate and respectful of the local culture and always wear

  • Long length shorts
  • Tops that cover shoulders
  • Tops that cover your midriff. 

Can I wear crop tops in Dubai?

Although you will see people wearing crop tops in Dubai I would say no you can’t wear crop tops in Dubai outside of hotels and beaches. Although you will see people in Dubai wearing these I would advise to be more modest in your clothes and keep your midriff covered. 

Can you wear mini skirts in Dubai?

Again, you will see people wearing mini skirts in Dubai I would advise against this. Dubai being a Muslim country means that locals have more conservative sensibilities in relation to clothes. 

Therefore I recommend wearing midi or maxi skirts rather than mini skirts when I am in Dubai. 

Do tourists have to wear a hijab in Dubai?

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about whether tourists have to wear a hijab in Dubai however there is a clear answer to this. 

Tourists do not have to wear a hijab in Dubai. IN fact tourists do not have to wear a hijab in the UAE anywhere (though there is a Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi dress code where you may have to wear one). 

Can I wear skinny jeans in Dubai?

Yes you can absolutely wear skinny jeans in Dubai however if you are visiting Dubai in summer these might not be the best choice as you may get hot and sweaty in them. 

I would advise wearing something looser fitting in a more breathable fabric instead such as a Palazzo pant. 

Have you been to Dubai? What would you add to the what not to wear in Dubai guide? What would you leave at home next time

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