Are you wondering what to wear in Dubai in January? Winter is my favorite season to visit the UAE because of the amazing weather however it can be a tricky one to pack for. In this guide we will cover everything from what to wear for Dubai tourist attractions, how to dress for the heat and also how to adhere to the Dubai dress code.
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Weather in Dubai in Winter
Having lived in the UAE, I can tell you there are really two seasons in Dubai – Winter and Summer. And even in Winter you can never say it is really cold, especially if you are traveling from places such as North America and Europe in Winter. However having said that it can be chilly in the city and in the desert. So what can you expect from the Dubai weather in January.
Is Dubai Hot in January?
Hot is a relevant term, but I can say you will never experience freezing temperatures in Dubai even in Winter. But I do find it depends on where you come from as to how you find the temperatures.
One of the things that I find is that you see the tourists in Dubai in January wearing shorts and t shirts while locals will be bundled up in their knitwear. But generally speaking the temperatures in Dubai in January usually range between 24°C / 14°C which is slightly cooler than Dubai in December but still pretty pleasant.
I always said I wouldn’t do this, but after a couple of years in the region I found myself doing the same. However if you aren’t a local in the middle east you won’t usually find Dubai cold as the temperatures usually range from highs of 26°C/75F to lows 16°C/61F.
However it can feel cooler next to the water, and the desert definitely feels cold when the sun goes down. For this reason we recommend packing a summer capsule wardrobe for Dubai, with some modest attire and additional layers for evenings.
Is Dubai cold at night in January?
While the temperatures in Dubai during the day in January are hot, they do drop during the night especially in the desert. However I would not classify it as cold.
But it is worth having a couple of top layers for outside and in air conditioning.
Does it rain in Dubai in January?
Rain is not a common in Dubai no matter when you visit and January is no exception with only one day of rain in the month.
Dubai Dress Code
Before we start to put together the guide to what to wear to Dubai in January it is worth noting that Dubai does have dress code rules that you need to consider. The Middle East generally speaking has some of the world’s strictest dress codes and while Dubai is one of the most relaxed places in the region, it is important to still have conservative outfits with you.
The general rules for the Dubai dress code for both men and women are
- Keep your shoulders covered
- Keep your knees covered
- Don’t wear anything overly revealing.
And it is important to remember that 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 isn’t true. And while you will see many people ignoring the rules especially in places such as Dubai Mall and at the Burj Khalifa but we like to be respectful when we travel and urge you to do the same.
For a complete guide on what NOT to wear in Dubai check out this post.
It is also important to remember that different places in Dubai will also have different dress code standards. Hotels and resorts will be more liberal and you will be able to wear bikinis on the beach and scrappy tops and shorts etc.
However if you plan to visit public places or head on a day trip to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for instance you will need to have a conservative outfit with you.
What to wear in Dubai in January Packing List
We have split this packing list into sections:
- men and
- other travel packing essentials
to make for easier navigation.
What to wear in Dubai in January for Women
So now you know some of the dress codes you need to consider we will turn our attention to what to wear for women in Dubai in January.
A Maxi skirt is always on my Dubai packing list no matter the time of year you visit. They are a conservative item, so long as there aren’t lots of large slits in them, and they are cool and are easy to make work as part of a capsule wardrobe.
Like Maxi Skirts, Maxi dresses are perfect for Dubai so long as you avoid strappy tops and large slits. We also try pick ones made of a natural fabric such as cotton as it will be much cooler.
Top layer (cardigan, hoodie, sweater)
We always recommend having a couple of top layers with you for Dubai in Winter. For me this usually comprises of one cardigan and a casual hoodie.
A cardigan can layer nicely with smarter maxi dresses for restaurants where air conditioning can be strong. And I like a hoodie for out in the desert at night. But depending on how much you feel the cold you may want to have a jacket with you too.
A T Shirt that covers the shoulder is great wherever you are heading in Dubai.
I recommend stick to plain and lightly patterned t shirts in Dubai. And certainly avoid anything that has a slogan or graphic that could be deemed offensive.
Swimming is a big part of my Dubai Winter itinerary so I always take at least 2 pieces of swimwear for a week. Personally I find it more comfortable to wear a one piece but on private beaches and beach clubs bikinis are also fine.
Now although you can wear swimwear in Dubai on beaches and in the waterparks, swimwear is definitely only appropriate at these places.
As soon as you leave the beaches and water parks and head onto the boardwalks, shops, restaurants and bars you will need to cover up. I recommend getting a cover up with a sleeve and that is slightly longer in length. For this reason I like a kaftan.
Trousers / Jumpsuits
Trousers and jumpsuits are a great pick for Dubai in January as they are modest by nature. We recommend only picking ones in natural fabrics such as cotton and linen.
Although this wont be needed in most places in Dubai it is useful to have a light weight jacket as part of your Winter airport outfit that you can then use on a Dubai desert safari .
Shorts (Longer Length)
We often get asked “Can I wear shorts in Dubai?”. And the answer is surprisingly yes but they have to be the right type.
If you want to wear shorts in public they have to be longer length and cover the knee. If you just want to use shorts in your hotel and around a private pool then you can pick whatever variety you wish. It is worth noting that you will see people in the malls and public places in Dubai with shorts on however we think you should be respectful of the local culture.
If you are just looking for shorts for on private beaches I would chose a quick dry pair of shorts.
This goes without saying. If you plan on wearing sneakers in Dubai it is a good idea to pack sneaker socks too. The heat in Dubai can make your feet sweat and sneaker socks are a great way of reducing sweat and odour.
For any trip to Dubai whatever time of year you are traveling we recommend taking a pashmina. It can be used as an extra layer when the air conditioning is strong and can also make outfits more modest for places in Dubai with a dress code.
I would recommend a lightweight pair unless you are traveling with someone who will be putting the aircon up high!
The sun is very strong in Dubai so to protect your face from the sun while walking around the city and for hanging out on the beach.
I recommend packing a wide brimmed hat.
For more information on how to pack sun hats for travel click here.
Sun safety in Dubai is very important so be sure to pack a good pair of sunglasses that have good UV Protection even in January.
Best Shoes for Dubai in January
When I am thinking about the best shoes for Dubai in Winter sandals are the number one pick. The sun is hot in Dubai even in December and these can be used in a variety of places such as the mall and the beaches.
While my go to shoe for Dubai is of course a sandal, I would also advise taking a sneaker to Dubai. Although there are lots of indoor things to do in Dubai this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any walking to be done. For instance I can rack up over 20,000 steps just wandering around Dubai Mall. So for this reason it is a good idea to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes with you.
We recommend sneakers that are lightweight and breathable as they will be able to deal with Dubai weather year round.
Although the most important shoes for Dubai are definitely sandals and sneakers, you may also want to pack a pair of flip flops with you for walking around the pool and at the beach. Though they aren’t good for lots of walking the fact they take up little space in the case means they are easy and worthwhile to pack.
What to Pack for Dubai in January for Men
Although many people think Dubai dress code rules only apply to women but they apply to men too. Therefore be sure that men keep shoulders and knees covered when out in public in Dubai.
So what should men add to their Dubai packing list!
To keep your knees covered for certain public places but keep cool we recommend wearing lightweight cotton pants. Linen is also a good choice as it is also breathable but does tend to wrinkle.
To learn how to pack linen without wrinkling check out this post.
T Shirts are appropriate throughout Dubai for men. We recommend packing plain short sleeve t shirts as opposed to graphic or slogan, and I would avoid tank tops away from the beach.
Longer Length Shorts
While at hotels and on the beach shorter length shorts are fine. However we recommend packing a long length pair for certain public places and avoiding shorts altogether at mosques and religious settings.
Generally speaking for the beach we recommend quick dry items as they will dry quicker if you get them wet at the beach or a water park.
While T shirts are appropriate in most public places, button down shirts should be added to your packing list if you plan on eating at some of Dubai’s fine dining establishments.
Dubai Packing List (non clothing)
Now we have covered the clothes you should pack for Dubai, we will look at the non clothing items to put on your Dubai packing list
- Documents – including but not limited to: passports, travel insurance, COVID related documents, visas etc.
- Crossbody bag – Dubai is actually one of the places I have traveled to where I have felt safest. However I always travel with a crossbody bag with plenty of zips that deters pick pockets. My favorite brand of travel bag has to be Travelon.
- Reusable Water bottle – as the temperatures in Dubai are high it is important to stay hydrated. For this reason we recommend packing a travel water bottle. If you get one which collapses it will take up less room in your suitcase.
- Sunscreen – the sun is strong, keep your skin protected by wearing high SPF sunscreen.
- Toiletries – find out full list of essential travel toiletries here. However if you are tight on space, it is easy to buy toiletries in Dubai in supermarkets such as Waitrose, Carreforre and in local pharmacies.
- Medication – just be sure to have your prescription with you and check for anything medication that can not be brought into Dubai.
- Travel First Aid Kit – we always travel with one.
- Blister plasters
- Universal Travel Adaptor – very important for those traveling from outside of Europe.
- Power Pack / Battery recharger
- Aloe Vera – in case you do get burnt this is. a good to have with you.
- Lip Balm with SPF – my current favorite brand is Sun Bum.
- Cooling Towel – if you feel the heat a cooling towel as a great addition to your packing list.
- Quick Dry Towel – useful if you plan on visiting beaches or the water parks in Dubai.
What else would you add to this Dubai in January packing list?