Want information on the Bahrain Dress Code? Wondering what it means in regards to what to wear in Bahrain? Obviously Bahrain is a conservative Muslim country located in the Middle East. As such as you would expect there to be quite strict rules about what you can and can’t wear. In this guide we will answer any questions you may have as well as providing outfit inspiration for women, men and children.
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What do Locals wear in Bahrain?
Before we get into how to dress as a tourist in Bahrain it is worth looking at how local people dress there. The Bahraini National Dress is commonly worn by Bahrain Nationals and you will definitely see it as you travel around the city.
So what does the Bahrain national dress look like?
Well for men in Bahrain the national dress usually consists of a long white dishdasha (thobe) with a headdress. This is usually a white clothe called a ghutra alongside a black cord called an agal. Though if you are traveling to Bahrain in Winter you may find they replace the white those with a darker coloured one usually brown or grey.
Local women on the other hand tend to wear the abaya. The Abaya is a black robe worn over clothes alongside the black headscarf known as the shayla.
Things to considering for What to Wear in Bahrain
When you are putting together your what to wear in the Bahrain wardrobe there are a few things you want to consider.
Bahrain Dress code requirements
We will outline the Bahrain dress code below as this is the most important thing to consider when packing for Bahrain.
Everything you pack should adhere to the dress code rules except for clothing that you are planning to wear in the 5* hotels and resorts where the dress code is not as strict.
However generally speaking the Bahrain dress code is as follows:
- shoulders must be kept covered
- Knees must be covered
- No Cleavage
- Clothing should not be too revealing or too tight
For some reason many people assume dress codes in the Middle East only apply to women but this is definitely not the case. Men should also always keep shoulders and knees covered too!
After the modesty required by Islamic law, the next thing that will influence your Bahrain packing list is the heat. Bahrain in summer gets very hot so you will need to pack lots of light and natural fabrics.
Unlike other parts of the world I would categorise the Bahrain as having only two seasons – summer and winter. The cooler winter season tends to run from November to April while the temperatures start to heat up for summer from May to October.
Therefore whenever you are traveling to the Bahrain you need to make sure you pack lightweight and breathable clothing whatever time of year you are there.
However having said that I would also advise anyone traveling to the Bahrain to always pack a pashmina or top layer. A pashmina is the perfect pick as it can be used to add some extra modesty to the outfit, but also provide an added layer when you are indoors where the air conditioning can be very very strong.
What to wear in Bahrain as a woman?
As I mentioned above there are 4 things to keep in my for how to dress in Bahrain as a woman. They are:
- keeping your shoulders covered
- Keeping your knees covered
- Not showing Cleavage
- Not wearing clothing that is too revealing or too tight
Overall I would surmise that as a conservative Muslim country your clothing as a female tourist in Bahrain should be conservative.
The following items tend to always be on my Bahrain packing list for female tourists.
A Maxi skirt is always on my Bahrain packing list or any of my packing lists for the Middle East as they are both modest and cool. A perfect combo for travellers in the Middle East.
Just be sure there are no slits in your skirt that reveals your leg on the knee or above as this would not comply with the Bahrain dress code.
A Maxi dress is another staple of my Bahrain packing lists. I try and pick one made of a natural fabric such as cotton so it is more breathable.
I would advise picking a dress that has at least some cap sleeves to make it more appropriate for the Bahrain dress code.
And I would also ensure that it doesn’t show too much cleavage or back to keep in line with the dress code.
A T Shirt that covers the shoulder is great wherever you are heading in Bahrain.
It might sound strange to be heading to a country that has daytimes temperatures in the 30s even in the winter but listen.
The reason is because the indoor venues in Bahrain such as the mall and cinemas have air conditioning which is very strong. In indoor venues in Bahrain you will definitely want an extra layer.
I will talk more about swimwear requirements below but if you are at a 5* hotel or resort then you can wear swimwear at the pool
You will want a cover for being pool side.
Shorts (Longer Length)
We often get asked “Can a girl wear shorts in the Bahrain?”. And the answer is surprisingly yes but they have to be the right type.
Any shorts you have must always cover your knee even when sitting.
That is unless you are at a resort where the rules are more relaxed. However for out in public your knee must be covered.
For any trip to the Bahrain no matter the time of year you are traveling we recommend taking a pashmina. This is for several reasons:
- The air conditioning can be very strong so you may want to have a pashmina as an extra layer for some indoor locations
- It can be used to make an outfit more modest when required.
- Can be used as a head scarf if you are visiting the Al Fateh Grand Mosque where this is a requirement.
This goes without saying.
A light weight pair will suffice.
The sun is very strong in the Bahrain so you need to protect your face from the sun while walking around the city and for hanging out on the beach. Having a sun hat that can work on the beach and in the towns is best as this will reduce the amount you need to pack.
As I said sun safety should be your top priority when traveling around Bahrain. Just be sure to bring a pair that has good UVA protection.
What is the Bahrain dress code for men?
If you are wondering what the Bahrain dress code for men is the answer is that it is very similar to the Bahrain dress code for women.
For some reason many people think that the Bahrain dress code rules and conservative dress only applies to women in Islamic countries (check out our guides on what not to wear in Qatar and what not to wear in Dubai for comparison), however this simply isn’t true.
The Bahrain Dress code for men says that
- Men must keep their shoulders covered
- Men must keep their knees covered
Can men wear shorts in Bahrain?
Bearing the above in mind any short a man wears in a public place should cover the knee. However if you are in the 5* hotel resorts then this is an exception to the rule.
I would advise men traveling to Bahrain to stick to lightweight cotton chinos and linen trousers instead of shorts.
And if you do pack shorts make sure they cover the knee. Cargo shorts are the most popular style.
What to wear in Bahrain for Children
If your children have not yet hit puberty the dress code rules do not apply. However I try and keep my kids well covered for sun protection.
Best Shoes for Bahrain
When I am thinking about the best shoes for visiting Bahrain sandals have to be top of the list.
The sun is hot in Bahrain no matter the time of year you travel and these can be used in a variety of places such as the mall and the beaches.
However I don’t usually wear them out in the desert. I tend to prefer:
While my go to shoe for Bahrain has to be a sandal, I would also advise taking a sneaker. Although there are lots of indoor things to do in Bahrain this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any walking to be done.
Also if you head out to the desert and want to do some desert sports you will want to have a closed toe shoe.
Our go to brands are:
- Sketchers Go Walks or
- All Birds
Although the most important shoes for Bahrain are definitely sandals and sneakers, you may also want to pack a pair of flip flops with you for wondering around the pool and beach.
FAQS About the Dress Code in Bahrain
Do you have to wear a hijab in Bahrain as a woman?
Probably the most common question we get about the Bahrain dress code is, as I woman do I have to wear a hijab in Bahrain?
However the good news is that as an expat or tourist in Bahrain you are not expected to wear a hijab, headscarf, burka or any other national dress item.
But I would say that the exception would be if you were in a mosque in Bahrain. There you would need to cover your head.
However it is worth pointing out that if you are visiting other countries in the region be sure to check out our what to wear in the Middle East post which offers a helpful country comparison on which places head scarves are required.
Can you wear a bikini in Bahrain?
In answer to can you wear a bikini in v the answer is both yes and no. If you are on one of the many beautiful public beaches or in other public places then you definitely can not wear a bikini.
However if you are at a private beach or in a five star hotel you may wear a bikini on the beach or around the pool. I would however still wear a bikini that has more covering than say a thong bikini to be respectful of local culture.
Personally I tend to stick to one piece swimsuits when I am in the Middle East even on a Dubai beach which has the most liberal dress code.
Also please be advised that it is illegal to sunbathe topless in the Middle East so absolutely do not do this.
Can you wear shorts in Bahrain as a woman?
The answer to can you wear shorts in Bahrain is yes and no. The reason for this is because it really depends on the shorts you are wearing and the location you are at.
If you are in a public place then you can wear shorts as a woman in Bahrain however the shorts must cover your knees to be inline with the Bahrain dress code.
I personally find it hard to find a pair of shorts that cover my knees that I find fashionable. Therefore I usually opt for a midi or a maxi skirt or dress instead of shorts but that is personal preference.
However if you are at one of the 5* star resorts then you of course can wear shorts of any length though again I prefer to air on the more conservative side even at the resorts.
Can you wear jeans in Bahrain?
Yes you can absolutely wear jeans in v. However I don’t recommend it especially if you are visiting Bahrain in summer when the temperatures skyrocket.
However if you are indoors where the air conditioning is strong i.e. in malls or Cinemas jeans are perfect.
Also it is worth noting that in the Winter in Bahrain, the temperatures at night in particular really drop and therefore jeans are appropriate in Bahrain in winter.
Can you wear ripped jeans in Bahrain?
The question of can you wear ripped jeans in Bahrain is a controversial one because it depends on where the rips are to whether or not it would be against the rules.
If the rips on your jeans are above the knees then this would definitely be against the Bahrain dress code rules. However you will probably see people wearing them in Bahrain but it wouldn’t be my choice.
Can you wear skinny jeans in Bahrain?
Now we know you can wear jeans in Bahrain – what about skinny jeans? I would say you can wear skinny jeans in Bahrain it is against the ethos of the rules.
I personally would opt for jeans other than skinny. However you will see people wearing skinny jeans in Bahrain.
Can I wear leggings in Bahrain?
Similarly to the question of wearing skinny jeans, we also get asked ‘can I wear leggings in Bahrain?” As they are tight fitting I probably wouldn’t wear them out in more conservative public places and they can feel quite hot but you will definitely see them in the city especially if people are exercising.
I would personally only wear leggings in Bahrain if I was exercising or with longer length tunics. Or on hotel properties where the dress code rules are different.
What to wear in Bahrain Airport
What to wear in Bahrain Airport will largely depending on whether you are just transiting through or if you are clearing customs.
If you plan to clear customs and enter the Bahrain then all regular Bahrain dress code rules apply i..e keeping shoulders and knees covered, no overly tight or revealing clothes etc.
However if you are only transiting say onto Asia or as part of the Kangaroo route to Australia then your dress doesn’t have to be as strict. However having said that, I always like to respect the culture of the countries I am transiting through.
What to Wear at the Beach in Bahrain?
What to wear at the Beach I Bahrain or at the pool will largely depend on where you are. If it is a public beach or pool then you will be required to maintain modesty. Think burkhinis!
Most public spaces will have the dress code requirements on signs. Be sure to follow whatever the sign says otherwise you could get into trouble.
However if you are at a private pool or beach you will see a variety of swimwear. We usually see everything from bikinis to burkhinis!
I would say wear what you are comfortable in however I usually opt for a one piece over a bikini.
And please take a cover with you as you will be expected to wear one rather than wonder round the hotel in swimwear alone.
Please note: you absolutely can not be topless at a beach in Bahrain whether public or private. Doing so is illegal and would get you into a lot of trouble.
What to wear at the Al Fateh Grand Mosque?
You are expected to be covered to ankles and wrists with no tight or revealing clothing. Women will also be required to wear a headscarf.
Entry will not be permitted if you do not meet the dress code requirements.
What to wear in Bahrain in Winter
Although the desert, Bahrain isn’t hot 365 days a year. If you are visiting Bahrain in WInter add some jeans, jumpers and cardigans to your Bahrain packing list.
Do you have any other questions about the Bahrain dress code? If so please them in the comments and we will do our best to answer!