What to Wear in Dubai: Packing Tips for The Female Traveller

what to wear in dubai


Travelling to Dubai for the first time? Wondering what to pack or wear to Dubai? Well, we have learned quite a few things in our travels to this beautiful “City of Gold”.  It’s a land of contrasts. In my last post, I shared a guide on where to stay in Dubai, in this post I am sharing a few essentials for your travel packing list for Dubai. And some tips as to why these are your travel essentials for a memorable trip to one of the most known Emirates.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is often confused with Abu Dhabi, another popular city. And being a majority Muslim country, there are often conflicting information on what you can and cannot wear. Let’s start with the basics and dive right in.

How Much Do You Need to Take?

If you’re going on vacation for a short trip – a few weeks – you don’t need more than a carry on and a knapsack. There are two reasons why we recommend this. The first is that you will have to pay for your checked bag(s) based on your fare type and the airline you use. Second, if you have connecting flights, traveling without a checked piece limits the chance that you might lose your luggage in-between flight transfers.

So, what can you fit in your carry-on luggage that will make your trip that much more special? Keep reading and we’ll see.


It’s Tropical (aka It’s HOT in Dubai)

The weather in Dubai is tropical so you should bring light clothing that breathes well. Otherwise, you may get uncomfortably hot. Depending on the time of year that you visit, the temperature can be anywhere between 77 degrees and 113 degrees. If I am heading somewhere hot I tend to scope out linen/silk blend dresses as they are light and breathable or search for elegant midis and maxi dresses on Net-a-Porter or ASOS. Some these will be in the sale most of the time as don’t have great weather in the UK so I find that majority of summer items tend to be in the sale frequently.



Modesty is Key – If You Don’t Want Unwanted Attention

Dubai is a lot less restrictive than some of the other emirates. But it is still a majority Muslim country and therefore modesty is always key. Beware that your idea of dressing ‘modestly’ may not be the same as those in Dubai.

Even in the tourist areas, which are even less restricted, certain standards of dress are not tolerated. And it gets really uncomfortable being continuously stared at because they don’t believe that you are appropriately dressed. Trust me. We know this all too well.

Malls, restaurants, and mosques will have their dress standards posted. This is generally shoulders covered and bottoms below the knees. Beachwear and club wear should not be used for everyday dress if you don’t want unwelcome stares. Keep your bikinis on the beach. Most hotels allow bikinis and swimwear but be sure to cover up on the way from your room to the book.

To show that you respect the culture, pack tops with sleeves for modesty as well as to protect you from the sun. Clothes that cover your neckline, knees, and shoulders are always safe bets. If you must wear an off-shoulder top then pack a scarf in your bag for when you enter malls and other sites that enforce the dress code so you can easily cover the shoulder. Also, try not to wear anything to revealing of the chest area.


what to wear in dubai


(From the top )Blue dressPashmina | Kaftan Yellow Dress | Sunglasses | Earrings  | Hat

Hat | Swimsuit | Earrings | Handbag | Clarins Suncare kit


Pack for the Places in Dubai That You Intend to Visit

  • Traditional Buildings

While scarfs are not essential headwear for everyday use, you should always walk with a scarf on you. Some buildings – especially traditional buildings and the mosques – will not allow you inside with an uncovered head. So, you will always be prepared for any impromptu attractions if you have a scarf on you.

Plus, scarfs help to protect you from the dangers of the sun.

  • The Desert

Stargazing in the desert is one of the most fun activities to do in Dubai. This is especially romantic if you are going on vacation with a partner. But temperatures in the desert can drop below -0. Make sure to pack a light jacket to ward off any chills at night. The desert is also windy so be careful of shorter clothing. You can pack a beautiful embellished Kaftan,  for a photo op. You can also find beautiful kaftans on Amazon too. You should also consider having leggings under your skirts or dresses, or jeans as it does get cold in the evenings. They protect your skin from the harshness of the sand.



  • Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is also only about an hour and a half from Dubai. So, you may want to visit. But, they are considered much more conservative than Dubai. And the conservative dress is especially important if you want to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque outside of Abu Dhabi. Both Get Your Guide and Viator have great day tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. I will share details of my trip to Abu Dhabi soon.

  • Brunch

It’s always recommended to have a nice outfit and dress shoes when you go on vacation. After all, even if you didn’t plan on any fancy dinners, you never know where you might end up. Since we are talking about traveling as light as possible, make sure the shoes you carry can go well with multiple outfits. Dubai food experiences are rich and plentiful from Afternoon tea at Burj Al Arab to Dubai Marina cruise with buffet, to a luxury dining experience in the Burj Khalifa. So be sure to pack a few clothing options that allow you to look stylish at a moment’s notice.



So, What to pack/wear in Dubai?

  • Shorts are OK only in the tourist districts but can still cause stares
  • Loose fitting tops and pants, covered dresses, and skirts below the knees are always safe choices
  • Jeans that aren’t too tight, or if you have a longer top to wear over it
  • Full covering is required for entry to the mosques and some public buildings
  • Sandals and flat shoes as you will be walking around the malls a lot.
  • Always pack a pashmina or scarf in your handbag for when you need to cover up if wearing short-sleeved or off shoulder outfits and need to enter conservative areas/buildings.
  • Pack a Summer hats as the sun in Dubai even in their winter(22-30 oC in Oct-Nov) can still be intense.
  • Pack a beautiful Embellished Kaftan that is both modern and stylish. You can cover up and still be stylish while abiding by Dubai dress code rules. Pair these up with a pair of leggings or skinny jeans and sandals and you are good to go.
  • Make sure you pack a good Suncream, as beautifully warm and toasty the sun is in Dubai you need to make sure you protect your skin. In addition to a holdall beach bag is a must. Accessorise has some beautiful beach bags on sale at the moment.



These clothing options for your trip to Dubai will not only contribute to your hosts being friendlier, but they will keep you cool and protect your skin while you have a fabulous time exploring the City of Gold.


Where To Stay In Dubai


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what to wear in dubai



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