What to Wear in Dubai

Observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, in January

Observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, in January

Bustling back streets, in March

Bustling back streets, in March

Downtown Dubai, in March

Downtown Dubai, in March

Shopping mall, in July

Shopping mall, in July

Desert jeep safari, in October

Desert jeep safari, in October

Shopping mall, October

Shopping mall, October

Wooden ferry ride, Dubai Creek in November

Wooden ferry ride, Dubai Creek in November

Jumeirah Mosque, in December

Jumeirah Mosque, in December

On the beach

On the beach

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to help you pack with confidence and stay safe, secure and comfortable.

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General Style Tips

  • Dubai is a real melting pot of cultures now, but it is a Muslim country and you will cause offence if you expose too much flesh.
  • In the shopping malls, restaurants or main tourist areas the attitude is more relaxed and it is fine to wear shorts, camisole tops, sundresses etc - although bear in mind the air-con can make it very chilly indoors.
  • It's hot outside, so choose light loose-fitting clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton, linen or bamboo.
  • But if you opt for long pants and longer-sleeved tops, they will protect you from the fierce sun, be more comfortable in the air-con, and they are more in keeping with the local attire.
  • Quality sunglasses and a sunhat are an absolute must in this heat.

What Shoes To Pack

  • Make sure you take light comfy footwear for daytime (and remember your feet may swell in the heat) - we love Hotter shoes, for total comfort along with style.
  • Save your high heels for the evenings or opt for some pretty flat sandals. Try the Lindsay Phillips Switch Flops range - using interchangeable shoe and flip-flop bases with snap-on decorations, you can change your look from day to evening in an instant whilst still packing light.

Clothing Tips for Women

  • The guide books on what to wear in Dubai suggest moderate dressing for women and we would agree.
  • Topless sunbathing is a definite no-no.
  • The evenings are the time to dress up - be glamorous and accessorize with lots of bling.
  • Be sure to take a pashmina or wrap because even though it's 45 degrees outside the air conditioning works well and it can be cool in tourist buildings, shopping malls and restaurants.
  • When visiting any religious sites then out of respect cover your shoulders and bare legs - again your pashmina or a sarong can come in very handy.

Clothing Tips for Men

  • Keep it cool and casual; linen pants and shirts work well, and shorts are perfectly acceptable when shopping.
  • Even though it's 45 degrees outside the air conditioning works well and it can be cool inside buildings; you may like to carry a light jacket or sweater.
  • We love the Madda Fella range of stylish shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear.
  • For great versatile travel jackets with multiple pockets including RFID security options, we love the SCOTTeVEST range.

Regions of Dubai

  • If you are planning on traveling further afield then our advice would be that short tops, short skirts / shorts, tight or body-revealing clothes etc. should be avoided entirely. Cotton or other natural fiber shirts or t-shirts, with cotton pants or an ankle-length skirt are good, and do cover your shoulders. Keep clothing loose - it has the double benefit of keeping you cooler and attracting less unwanted attention.

Other Things To Pack

  • Toiletries and sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection) are expensive in Dubai, so ensure that you take plenty with you.
  • Before packing medicines and toiletries, check on this website for the list of banned substances. You'll be amazed at what's on there, and, there is a zero tolerance approach taken by the authorities. You really don't want to ruin your trip - for the sake of a few minutes' extra reading.
  • Some of the tap water is 'safe to drink', but it may not be what you are used to at home. If you prefer to buy bottled water, consider carrying a Go! Filtered Water Bottle instead - fill up from any source and get clean, safe drinking water without wasting plastic bottles.
  • A lightweight day sack or shoulder bag will come in handy to carry your sightseeing essentials.
  • Look after your mobile phone with a phone bunjee - it protects against loss, theft and damage.
  • To use electrical gadgets you may need a travel adapter plug, and also a step down voltage converter if your devices are not designed for the local voltage (230V).
  • If you're aiming to travel with just carry-on baggage, try the CabinMax soft-sided rucksack - it's light, roomy and has plenty of pockets to keep your stuff organized.
  • Avoid paying unexpected baggage fees - use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance. Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home! Look for embroidered linens, jewelry or Arabic perfumes (just remember any liquids will need to be packed in your hold luggage when you fly home).
  • If your visit coincides with the Holy Month of Ramadan, be particularly careful to respect local customs: do not eat, drink or smoke in public places during daylight hours and dress sensibly. Your hotel should be able to give you more information on their policy e.g. bars may be closed during the day.

Last updated 16 December 2016.

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Pack Light

  • Less luggage to carry
  • Save time packing and unpacking
  • Save money on baggage fees

Pack Right

  • Respect local cultures
  • Feel comfortable and confident
  • Suitable outfits for all occasions

A Message From Helen



I want you to have an amazing holiday. That's why I started WhatToWearOnHoliday.com,
to help you pack with confidence and stay safe, secure and comfortable.