Are you wondering what to wear in Kuwait alongside information on the Kuwait dress code rules? Obviously Kuwait 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 answer your most burning Kuwait dress code questions to make sure you know what you can wear and where.
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What do Locals wear in Kuwait
Before we get into how to dress as a tourist in Kuwait it is worth looking at how local people dress in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti National Dress is commonly worn by Kuwait Nationals in Kuwait and you will definitely see it as you wonder around the city.
Men in Kuwaiti largely dress in national attire which 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.
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 Kuwait
When you are putting together your what to wear in the Kuwait wardrobe there are a few things you want to consider.
Dress code requirements
We outlined the Kuwait dress code above. This should really heavily influence what you pack to wear in the Kuwait. 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.
After the modesty required by Islamic law, the next thing that will influence your Kuwait packing list is the heat. Kuwait 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 Kuwait 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 Kuwait 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 Kuwait 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 Kuwait as a woman?
If you are wondering what to wear in Kuwaiti as a woman there are four things that you need to keep in mind:
- Shoulders must be kept covered
- Knees must be covered
- No Cleavage
- Clothing should not be too revealing or too tight
Overall I would surmise that as a conservative Muslim country your clothing as a female tourist in Kuwait should be conservative.
The following items tend to always be on my Kuwait packing list for female tourists.
A Maxi skirt is always on my Kuwait packing list as they are both modest and cool. Again as piece of clothing providing that there isn’t an overly high slit that reveal your knee if you are going to religious sites.
A Maxi dress is another staple of my Kuwait 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 Kuwait dress code.
A T Shirt that covers the shoulder is great wherever you are heading in Kuwait.
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 such as the mall and cinemas the air conditioning is very strong so you will want an extra layer.
I will talk more about swimwear requirements below but oyu will want to have a one piece with you for swimming in hotel pools.
Shorts (Longer Length)
We often get asked “Can a girl wear shorts in the Kuwait?”. 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. The more conservative an Emirate you are visiting will affect how long and how comfortable you feel in your shorts out in public.
If you just want to use shorts in your hotel and around a private pool then you can pick whatever variety you wish.
When I am thinking about the best shoes for visiting Kuwait sandals have to be top of the list.The sun is hot in the Kuwait 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.
While my go to shoe for Kuwait has to be a sandal, I would also advise taking a sneakeri. Although there are lots of indoor things to do in Kuwait 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 Kuwait 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.
For any trip to the Kuwait 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 a Mosque where this is a requirement.
This goes without saying.
A light weight pair will suffice.
The sun is very strong in the Kuwait 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 Kuwait. One of the best ways of protecting yourself is to pack a good pair of sunglasses that have good UV Protection.
Do you have to wear a hijab in Kuwait as a woman?
Probably the most common question we get about the Kuwait dress code is, as I woman do I have to wear a hijab in Kuwait?
However the good news is that as an expat or tourist in Kuwait 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 Kuwait. 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 Kuwaiti?
In answer to can you wear a bikini in Kuwait 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 Kuwait so absolutely do not do this.
Can you wear shorts in Kuwait as a woman?
The answer to can you wear shorts in Kuwait 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 Kuwait however the shorts must cover your knees to be inline with the Kuwait 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 Kuwait?
Yes you can absolutely wear jeans in Kuwait. However I don’t recommend it especially if you are visiting Kuwait in summer when the temperatures skyrocket.
However if you are indoors where the air conditioning is strong i.e. in Kuwaiti malls or Cinemas jeans are perfect.
Also it is worth noting that in the Winter in Kuwait, the temperatures at night in particular really drop and therefore jeans are appropriate in Kuwait in winter.
Can you wear ripped jeans in Kuwait?
The question of can you wear ripped jeans in Kuwait 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 Kuwait dress code rules. However you will probably see people wearing them in Kuwait but it wouldn’t be my choice.
Can you wear skinny jeans in Kuwait?
Now we know you can wear jeans in Kuwait – what about skinny jeans? I would say you can wear skinny jeans in Kuwait but it is against the ethos of the rules.
I personally would opt for jeans other than skinny.
Can I wear leggings in Kuwait?
Similarly to the question of wearing skinny jeans, we also get asked ‘can I wear leggings in Kuwait?” 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 Kuwait if I was exercising or with longer length tunics.
What is the Kuwait dress code for men?
If you are wondering what the Kuwait dress code for men is the answer is that it is very similar to the Kuwaiti dress code for women.
For some reason many people think that the Kuwait 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 Kuwaiti Dress code for men says that
- Men must keep their shoulders covered
- Men must keep their knees covered
Can men wear shorts in Kuwait?
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 Kuwait 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 Kuwait 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.
Specific Kuwait Dress Code Questions
Although the rules above are a great rule of thumb to stick by we will now examine some of the biggest Kuwaiti attractions and cultural sites dress codes as well as seasonal dress codes.
What to wear in Kuwait Airport
What to wear in Kuwait 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 Kuwait then all regular Kuwaiti 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 in Kuwait in Winter
Although the desert, Kuwait isn’t hot 365 days a year. If you are visiting Kuwait in WInter add some jeans, jumpers and cardigans to your Kuwait packing list.
Have we missed your burning question about what to wear in Kuwait? Then leave us a comment below and we will happily answer anything else you want to know about the Kuwait dress code.