When people think of Dubai, they often imagine an exotic land unlike the West, but this magical city in the United Arab Emirates is a breed all its own. Many travelers worry about what to wear in Dubai, as they don’t want to unknowingly commit a wardrobe taboo, or worse, get in serious trouble for something they’d wear in their everyday life back in the U.S.
Keeping track of different customs and traditions can be confusing. Dubai is much less restrictive than other countries in the Middle East when it comes to dress codes though, which makes packing a suitcase pretty easy. Aside from taking the weather and any special activities you’ve planned into consideration, you won’t have to give too much thought into what to wear in Dubai. There are a few exceptions, however, like when it comes to visiting mosques, Old Dubai, or if you decide to check out Abu Dhabi, since it’s so close in proximity. I’m teaming up with Vineyard Vines to share are a few tips to keep in mind while packing.
1. What to wear in Dubai at the beach
At beaches, pools, and water parks, you can wear any type of swimsuit you like. (Nudity isn’t permitted, though, so topless sunbathing is out of the question.) While I don’t typically buy bikinis for my daughters, I’m a fan of tankinis, which make using the restroom a breeze, especially with younger children.
One-piece suits are great, too, because they allow my girls to be super active without having to worry about anything riding up or falling down.
2. What to wear in Dubai at malls and restaurants
Outside of mosques and Old Dubai, there is no real dress code. Anything goes, so you don’t have to give a second thought to what to wear in Dubai. Our outfits from Vineyard Vines made traveling in style while still staying comfortable easy to do. Guys can’t lose with the shorts and polo shirt selections, which make dressing for the day effortless.
I love pairing the flowy patterned tops with crisp white shorts for a distinctly spring and summer look.
3. What to wear in Old Dubai
It’s best to dress more conservatively when you visit Old Dubai. This area, which includes the gold souks, the spice shops, and Dubai Creek, is more restrictive. You’ll have to give a little more thought to what to wear in Dubai if you plan to visit this part of the city, and remember that it’s a matter of respect.
Avoid tank tops and shorts, and keep clothes loose and flowy. (In other words, don’t wear leggings.) Steer clear of plunging necklines and off the shoulder tops or dresses.
4. What to wear in Dubai on a desert safari
Wear clothes that are comfortable and easy for you to move around in. After all, you may be doing anything from sand boarding to riding camels! Shorts and pants are best. Definitely avoid skirts and dresses on the day you go on your safari. For really great photos, I recommend dressing the family in whites and khakis, as those colors really pop against the desert background. My girls looked so cute in these white denim jackets and I even found a matching version for myself here.
Be aware that the desert can get quite cool in the mornings and evenings, so bring a light jacket and maybe also a scarf.
5. What to wear in Abu Dhabi
Yes, this article is about Dubai, but since Abu Dhabi is only an hour away, many people who travel to Dubai also make time to visit Abu Dhabi. You can take a more relaxed approach when thinking of what to wear in Dubai, but you definitely can’t do the same with Abu Dhabi. This city (and the other United Arab Emirates states) is significantly more conservative and strict when it comes to dress codes. For example, when we were at Ferrari World, the security guard asked our photographer, Wini, to change out of the shorts she was wearing (which were by no means short-shorts) and into long pants. So if you’re traveling to Abu Dhabi, it’s best to err on the more conservative side. Wear the same type of outfits you’d wear in Old Dubai (which means long sleeves, pants, and loose and flowy fabrics).
And that’s my advice on what to wear in Dubai!
When it comes time to decide what to wear in Dubai during your vacation, you can generally stick to clothes that are flowy and comfortable. While there are certainly times you’ll need to dress conservatively, like when visiting Old Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for the most part, you’ll be dressing for comfort. Wear what you’d normally wear to go shopping, to go out to dinner, or to go to the beach. Pick white and khaki casual clothes if you decide to go on a safari (and opt for layers due to those chilly mornings and evenings). If you visit another part of the Middle East, you’ll need to do separate research, as each area has its own unique set of rules, customs and traditions. As for Dubai, take a relaxed approach.
We received complimentary clothes from Vineyard Vines for the purposes of this article. All opinions are our own.
About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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