When travelling to Dubai, dressing for the desert heat while respecting Islamic traditions can be a little challenge. Although this Emirate is considered to be a little more liberal than others, it is still an Islamic state that adheres to traditional values.
As any visitor who respects a host country’s traditions, it is best to ensure that your choice of clothes to pack and wear in Dubai would not offend local sensibilities.
M for Modesty
Signs at Mall of the Emirates
In Shopping Malls and Souks
Signs at the entrance to the gargantuan Mall of the Emirates remind visitors to dress modestly. Women are to be covered from their shoulders to their knees. No tight, revealing or see-through clothing should be worn. This means no tank tops, spaghetti straps, singlets, shorts and mini skirts. Naturally, midriff and cleavage should not be on show so no plunging necklines, low rise jeans or slit skirts. Three quarter trousers, long sleeve tops and short sleeve T-shirts are acceptable.
(L) Inside mall of the Emirates – (R) Traditional clothing seen near the fish souk and food markets
At the Jumeirah Mosque Visit
If you’re planning to visit Al Jumeirah Mosque, the dress code is strictly enforced. Women should wear long sleeve tops, loose clothing, and ensure their knees are covered. A head scarf should also be worn so it is best to bring one with you. If your dress code is not deemed suitable, they will happily lend you a long black gown to wear over your clothes and a black headscarf.
Inside the Jumeirah Mosque
At the Hotel Pool
You can lounge around your Dubai hotel beach or swimming pool in a bikini, Speedos or board shorts but topless bathing is not allowed. If you need to walk through the hotel lobby to get the pool, it is best that you are suitably covered out of respect to other guests. Wrapping a towel around you is not sufficient.
At Le Meridien Mina Seyahi hotel resort, the lift had access to the lower ground floor which by-passing the hotel lobby and connected to the beach area. Of course, one is also likely to encounter other guests in the lift so a little discretion is wise.
Beachside at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi
In Dubai Restaurants
For restaurants in Dubai, you may be dressed in evening wear that bares your shoulders. Take a pashmina with you to cover your shoulders until you arrive at the restaurant. It will also keep you warm as many establishments have their air conditioning set to low temperatures. If you’re having afternoon tea at Burj Al Arab, the hotel will send you advice on what to wear when you make your reservation.
For the Desert Safari
If you’re planning to go on a Dune Bashing and Desert Safari, the advice was that you can wear anything you like, including shorts and singlet tops. The safari trip begins in the middle of the afternoon to combat the heat and lasts into the early evening. Temperatures can drop a little in the desert but nothing that necessitates a cardigan. For footwear, it is best to wear open sandals or thongs (flip-flops) instead of sneakers as you’ll be walking on fine sand which gets everywhere.
With these tips, you can choose what to pack and be reassured that what you wear in Dubai would not be deemed offensive.
Al-Motahajiba boutique at Mall of the Emirates
Visiting Dubai? Don’t miss our Top 10 Things in To in Dubai.
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