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What to wear in Saudi Arabia dress code advice

What to wear in Saudi Arabia dress code advice

Are you wondering what to wear in Saudi Arabia and what the official Saudi Arabia dress code is? Obviously Saudi is a conservative Muslim country located in the Middle East. As such and as you would expect there’re strict rules about what you can and can’t wear. In this guide we answer your most burning Saudi Arabia dress code questions to make sure you know what you can wear and where and any location specific requirements to make sure you stay culturally appropriate.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

How do Locals Dress in Saudi Arabia?

Two locals in Saudi Arabia - what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice
what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice

Before we get into how to dress as a tourist in Saudi Arabia (or Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or KSA as it is sometimes known) it is worth looking at how local people dress in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian National Dress is commonly worn by Saudi Nationals in KSA and you will definitely see it as you wonder around the cities and many tourist attractions. 

Men in Saudi largely dress in national attire which usually consists of a long white dishdasha (thobe) with a headdress. This headress is often red and white in color and is called a ghutra and is usually acocompanied by a long black cord to hold it in place and is known as an iqal.

For special occasions and events of importance men may also wear a bisht, a black cloak with gold trim which you may have seen being bestowed on Messi after the Argentinian World Cup win in Qatar.

But it is not only men who wear national dress in Saudi women do too. However you may find that the dress of women changes depending on what part of the country you are in. Most local women will wear a long black cloak over regular clothes called an abaya along with a Shayla which is a traditional head covering.

However you may also find women in Saudi wearing a niqab. Niqabs are commonly worn in Saudi Arabia but aren’t as commonly seen in other gulf places such as DubaiAbu Dhabi and Qatar. A Niqab is a full face veil where just a woman’s eyes are visible. But you will also find women wearing a burqa which covers the whole face including the eyes.

However others will just wear a loose hijab. It really will depend wear you are in the country or what type of attraction you are at as to what you commonly see. However overall I would surmise the Saudia Arabian dress code for women as conservative.

Things to consider for What to Wear in Saudi Arabia

When you are putting together your what to wear in the Saudi wardrobe there are a few things you want to consider. 

Dress code requirements

The Saudi Arabian dress code requires conservative dress where everyone covered knees and shoulders – more on this later.

But this should really heavily influence what you pack to wear in Saudi Arabia. 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 Saudi Arabia packing list is the heat. Saudi Arabia in summer gets very hot so you will need to pack lots of light and natural fabrics. 

Therefore whenever you are traveling to the Saudi Arabia 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 Saudi Arabia 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 activities you are doing?

Men in Saudi Arabia desert
what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice

One of the things that we love about visiting the Saudi Arabia is the sheer range of activities and attractions that are available. From desert safaris, to the religious sites, KSA has many things on offer to tourists.

If you are visiting the Mosque or religious sites for instance you will need to be sure to pack an outfit that covers you from wrist to ankle swell as having a scarf for head covering. 

While if you are planning on heading into the desert to see some of the amazing archaeological sites Saudi Arabia has on offer you would need to have long loose clothing that will keep you cool. However if you are staying out overnight in the desert you will need some layers as the temperatures will drop at night. 

We recommend trying to plan out at least some of your Saudi Arabia itinerary in advance to be sure you pack correctly for your whole trip.

Slogans and Graphics

You should avoid wearing items of clothing that have political statements or slogans or graphic that could be deemed rude or offensive. For this reason I advise packing only plain or patterned clothing items over graphics and slogan wear.

What to wear in Saudi Arabia as a woman?

Women in Saudi Arabia desert next to Mirrored building what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice for women
what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice for women

For a long time Saudi Arabia wasn’t a viable destination for western, non-Muslim travelers due to the Visa requirements for entry into the country. However since 2019, Saudi Arabia has introduced a new type of tourist visa and is fast trying to position itself as a tourist destination in the Middle East.

Alongside the introduction of the new tourist visa came a relaxation with the rules regarding what to wear in Saudi Arabia as a female tourist.

However although there was a relaxation in what clothes tourists can wear in Saudi Arabia, it does not mean you can wear exactly what you would in the west.

It is important to remember that the Saudi Arabia dress code for women means females have to:

  • keep their shoulders covers
  • Keep their knees covered 
  • Not show Cleavage
  • Wear nothing tight, revealing or see through.

Therefore when I am looking to pack for Saudi Arabia I would put the following on Saudi Arabia packing list for women:

Maxi Skirts

A Maxi skirt is always on my Saudi Arabia packing list as they are both modest and cool. You just need to make sure that the skirt doesn’t have a slit that reveals your knee or thigh as this would be against the Saudi Dress code rules.

Maxi Skirts

A Maxi skirt is always on my Saudi 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. 

Maxi Dress

A Maxi dress is another staple of my Saudi 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 Saudi Arabian dress code. 

Click here to shop Maxi Dresses

Blouses and Tunics

Blouses and tunic that covers the shoulder and arms are great wherever you are heading in Saudi Arabia.

I advise picking tops as well that cover your bum so blouses and tunics are your best bet.


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 you will want to have a one piece with you for swimming in hotel pools.

Beach Cover

It is definitely not appropriate to walk around anywhere in Saudi in swimwear, Make sure you have a modest beach cover for as soon as you leave the water.


For any trip to the Saudi Arabia 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 religious sites where this is a requirement. 


This goes without saying. 


A light weight pair will suffice. 

Sun hat

The sun is very strong in the Saudi Arabia 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. 

Click here to shop sun hats


As I said sun safety should be your top priority when traveling around Saudi Arabia. One of the best ways of protecting yourself is to pack a good pair of sunglasses that have good UV Protection.

Do I have to wear an abaya as a female tourist in Saudi Arabia?

Up until 2019 female tourists in Saudi Arabia had to wear an abaya. However this is no longer the case.

The only place it is compulsory for female tourists in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya is at religious sites such as mosques and other holy places.

However I would always add an abaya to my Saudi Arabia packing list as you never know when you may need one or feel more comfortable wearing one than Western clothing.

You can buy this online in advance on places such as amazon or pick up one at the airport.

Do I have to wear an hijab in Saudi Arabia?

As with the rules on abayas, the rules on hijabs also changed in 2019. While it used to be compulsory for females in Saudi Arabia to wear hijabs everywhere, not you only have to wear one at religious sites.

However I would always carry a pashmina, in case you find you need to cover your hair somewhere. Pashminas are also handy for indoor places in Saudi Arabia that have strong air conditioning.

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 jeans in Saudi Arabia?

Yes you can absolutely wear jeans in Saudi Arabia but with some caveats. Firstly I don’t recommend it especially if you are visiting Saudi in summer when the temperatures skyrocket unless you are staying indoors in places such as malls.

Also if you wear jeans you will need to team them with a longer length top that covers your bum such as a tunic.

Can you wear ripped jeans in Saudi Arabia?

The question of can you wear ripped jeans in Saudi Arabia is a controversial one but I would say that you should avoid wearing ripped jeans in Saudi Arabia. Ripped jeans reveal more flesh than regular jeans so it is best to play it safe and leave these at home.

Can you wear skinny jeans in Saudi Arabia?

Anything tight fittings is a big no no in Saudi so leave the skinny jeans at home.

I personally would opt for jeans other than skinny. 

Can I wear leggings in Saudi Arabia?

As leggings are tight I would advise leaving the leggings at home when packing for Saudi Arabia.

Can I wear a bikini in Saudi Arabia?

Unless you have your own private villa with pool it is not recommend to wear bikinis. If you are swimming at a resort then we recommend a one piece over a bikini and having a cover for as soon as you leave the water.

And in some places you will feel more comfortable in a burkini over western swimwear.

What is the Saudi Arabia dress code for men?

Riyadh skyline
what to wear to Saudi Arabia dress code advice

If you are wondering what the Saudi Arabia dress code for men is the answer is that it is very similar to the Saudi dress code for women. 

For some reason many people think that the Saudi Arabia 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 Saudi Arabia Dress code for men says that

  • Men must keep their shoulders covered
  • Men must keep their knees covered

Can men wear shorts in Saudi Arabia ?

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 Saudi Arabia ait 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 that usually meet this requirement but I would always say trousers are a safer choice.

What to wear in Saudi Arabia 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 Saudi Arabia


When I am thinking about the best shoes for visiting Saudi Arabia sandals have to be top of the list.The sun is hot in the Saudi Arabia 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 if you are going to the desert or to see archaeological sites you may also want to consider a closed toe shoe to protect your feet from hot sand in summer.


While my go to shoe for Saudi Arabia has to be a sandal, I would also advise taking a sneaker. Although there are lots of indoor things to do in Saudi Arabia 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:

  • Hoka,
  • Sketchers Go Walks or
  • All Birds

Click here to shop good sneakers

Flip Flops

Although the most important shoes for Saudi Arabia 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. However I do not recommend them for the desert as the sand will get in your shoes and you will have no protection from hot sand in summer.

Click here to shop flip flops

And remember if you are visiting religious sites you will need shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

FAQs About Saudi Arabia Dress Code?

Can I wear make up in Saudi Arabia?

Yes you can wear make up in Saudi however if should be more neutral rather than heavy bright colors.

Can I wear jewellery in Saudi Arabia?

Yes you can wear jewelry in Saudi Arabia but you should keep it to a minimum so it isn’t over the top.

What to wear in Saudi Airports?

I would advise dressing modestly at Saudi Arabian airports whether you are transiting or entering the country.

What to wear in Saudi Arabia in Winter?

Although the desert, Saudi Arabia can be cool in Winter. Therefore we recommend packing some layers such as cardigans and jumpers for winter alongside jackets and top layers for those heading out to the desert.