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What to Wear in Dubai – Dubai Packing List for Tourists for Every Occasion

Planning a trip to Dubai, but not sure what to pack? You’ve come to the right place!

In this Dubai packing list I have outlined everything you need to know about what to wear in Dubai for every occasion, and what to pack accordingly.

Being a Muslim country, packing for Dubai is a little different from your average holiday.

There are dress code rules in the United Arab Emirates, and although Dubai is more relaxed than others, you will still want to make sure you don’t offend the local culture.

Generally speaking you want to keep things modest, and dress up a bit more than you normally might given the hot weather.

However don’t let that deter you, packing for Dubai isn’t hard, it just requires a bit of common sense and respect.

I have outlined all the different scenarios that you’re likely to find yourself during a Dubai holiday, and what is considered acceptable for every situation. I also include some useful items to pack, both for women and men.

So without further ado, let’s dive into my Dubai packing list, and discover what to wear in Dubai!

The Wings of Mexico statue in Downtown Dubai

The Wings of Mexico statue in Downtown Dubai

Dubai dress code for every occasion

Unlike many countries in the western world, there are certain rules for dressing in Dubai that you should definitely adhere to.

Dubai is less strict than Abu Dhabi (one of the reasons traveller prefer Dubai in the Abu Dhabi vs Dubai comparison), but there are still dress codes to follow.

This has roots in being respectful and modest in Islamic culture – and by following them in Dubai, you’ll be following local customs and showing respect to local culture.

That said, while there are no laws on clothing general, you should note that cross-dressing in Dubai is illegal.

However, in general, each different domain of Dubai society and different places in the emirate have varying degrees of dress code that you should follow.

Walking along Dubai Marina

Walking along Dubai Marina

What to wear in Dubai at the mall 

People dress up to go to the mall, and they dress modestly too. The tops of your arms/shoulders should not be showing, and neither should your knees.

Shorts for men are generally ok, but again these shouldn’t be too short. Underwear should not be showing and see-through garments are a no-no.

However, in a lot of malls you will see people wearing a wide range of different clothing, so any loose rule is not strictly adhered to absolutely everywhere.

During different times of year, Ramadan, for example, people dress more modestly.

Enjoying the view over Burj Khalifa and Dubai from Sky Views Observatory

Enjoying the view over Burj Khalifa and Dubai from Sky Views Observatory

What to wear at the beach in Dubai

If you’re heading to the beach, and any Dubai itinerary should definitely include some beach time, normal beachwear is usually fine.

It may not be the best place to wear your skimpiest swimsuit, particularly on some beaches, but private hotel beaches will generally be ok.

Just don’t wear your beachwear away from the beaches themselves and in other public areas.

What to wear in Dubai hotels and restaurants 

Depending on how formal the place is, Dubai hotels won’t be too strict on dress code.

Again, the type of restaurant will also dictate how smartly you need to dress. Smart means long trousers, not shorts, and closed-toe shoes, for men at least.

Chilling at Barasti Beach in Dubai

What to wear in the souks & traditional markets

The souks and traditional markets are stricter than other touristy places, so you should cover up more and dress conservatively. It’s best not to risk offending people. In Old Dubai it’s the same story. 

What to wear in a mosque 

Fully cover up. All skin on the body should be covered, except the face for men; women will need to wear a head covering, something you’ll often be able to borrow when you enter.

The gorgeous exterior of Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

The gorgeous exterior of Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

Dubai packing list for women

For women heading out to Dubai, you may be wondering what to wear in Dubai as a woman. While it can seem worrying, it’s not as strict or scary as you’d think.

To help you out, here’s a packing list I’ve prepared. Beyond the usual travel essentials for women, here are some useful things specifically for Dubai.

Tops – T-shirts and tanktops are a great way to keep cool and cover up when you’re in Dubai; basically a more modest alternative to things like crop tops.

Another good idea is to pack a big loose shirt that you can throw on over swimwear.

You’ll also need a hoodie or loose sweatshirt (trust me: the aircon in the malls can be surprisingly cold), and a light jacket for smart occasions wouldn’t go amiss.

Enjoying the view over Dubai Marina & JBR at sunset from Bluewaters

Enjoying the view over Dubai Marina & JBR at sunset from Bluewaters

Bottoms – Your packing list for Dubai would not be complete without some fancy dresses and long skirts.

This is a hot part of the world, and these loose options allow you to stay cool and stylish. I wouldn’t recommend skinny jeans (too tight), so go for loose trousers made from natural fabrics. 

As mentioned before, you can wear shorts in Dubai depending on where you are, just opt for a longer style than hot pants. 

Leggings are a good idea if you want to cover up your legs and you’re wearing a shorter dress/skirt. But not a good idea if you’re planning on wearing them with a T-shirt.

Footwear – Make sure to pack some comfortable sandals so you can stay cool when exploring Dubai. A pair of flip flops would also come in handy when you’re at the beach. A comfy pair of trainers wouldn’t go amiss either. 

Enjoying the pool with view over the Museum of the Future at 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai

Enjoying the pool with view over the Museum of the Future at 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai

Toiletries – You will need to pack plenty of sunscreen for your trip. It’s hot here and the sun is often out, blazing away in the sky. Getting burnt is no fun, so make sure you use it liberally.

Deodorant is a good idea (to be fair, that should always be amongst your travel essentials, regardless of destination).

Also, bring enough sanitary products for your trip, as you may not be able to find the same type you use at home. I always forget them, and always end up kicking myself when the type I find abroad isn’t as comfortable as my usual one.

Hats – Keep the sun at bay by bringing along a wide-brimmed sunhat. It’ll do wonders in protecting your face and neck from those UV rays. A cap wouldn’t be a bad idea either when you’re out exploring.

If you’re planning on going for a desert safari, and doing adventurous activities like dune bashing and sand boarding, you’ll want to bring a shawl to cover your head and mouth too.

The crew ready to go sand boarding in Dubai desert

The crew ready to go sand boarding in Dubai desert

Things to NOT pack for women

Leave those really short shorts at home, it’s just not the place to wear them. Any see-through clothing you own, tops or dresses, leave those at home, too.

In general, any particularly revealing outfit is not a good idea. It’s best to err on the side of modesty, so no low-cut tops or tops that show your stomach.

In general, you should have outfits for Dubai that both beat the heat and don’t show too much skin – or are too tight. Long and loose is definitely the way to go.

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the Burj Khalifa

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the Burj Khalifa

Dubai packing list for men 

While the general rules for men packing for Dubai aren’t as strict as those for women, there are still a lot of things that you should and shouldn’t wear when you’re in Dubai.

Local men dress pretty smartly and cover up quite a lot, but tourists dress in a whole range of different outfits too.

Tops – Dubai is hot, as I’ve established by now, so you’ll need at least one T-shirt or shirt per day. You should also pack a few smart shirts for evenings, particularly for the more fancy restaurants, bars or dinner cruises.

My friend speeding down a sand dune in Dubai with his sand board

My friend speeding down a sand dune in Dubai with his sand board

Bottoms – Shorts are definitely ok for men to wear in Dubai, but always opt for something more knee-length than something overly short. Long trousers are a must, especially if you plan on eating out.

Jeans are ok, but they could be too heavy for the hot weather here; some loose chinos are probably a better idea.

Footwear – Comfortable sandals are a must as socks are not overly fun in this hot environment.

Flip flops are ideal for hanging out at the beach or lounging by the pool, while you should opt for a pair of smart shoes for evening wear (best paired with pop socks).

A pair of walking sandals/trainers for walking around town or any outdoor activities would be good, too.

Getting ready to go dune bashing in Dubai

Getting ready to go dune bashing in Dubai

Toiletries – Deodorant, cologne and any hair products you might need, take those with you as they may cost more to buy in Dubai. Obvious things you will want to take include razors, though a bit of stubble is ok in Dubai. 

Hat and sunglasses – The sun is not your friend in Dubai, so keep it at bay with a cap or even a fedora if that’s your style. Sunglasses are worn aplenty in Dubai, so feel free to wear them likewise – everywhere.

Things to NOT pack for men

For men, your Dubai holiday packing list should not include anything too tight or too short. Tight T-shirts or jeans are not only horrific in the heat, they aren’t exactly modest either.

Similarly, shorts that are too short (i.e. way above the knee) won’t cut it here either. It would also not be wise to wear vests around, though at the beach – especially a private one – this may be alright.

The iconic pink Atlantis The Palm as seen from The Pointe, Dubai

The iconic pink Atlantis The Palm as seen from The Pointe, Dubai

Useful things for everyone 

Now that you’ve figured out what to wear in Dubai (or rather, what not to wear), here are the travel essentials that everyone should think about packing, regardless of being male or female.

That means everyday items and tech that you can’t do without – especially when you’re on holiday.

Travel adapter – Good news for those from the UK: Dubai uses the same plugs (type G) as you do over there.

If you’re travelling from anywhere else in the world, and you want to charge any of your tech in Dubai, then you’ll definitely need an adapter. I always recommend an international one so that you can use it on other trips too.

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm

A traditional wooden dhow boat in Dubai Marina

A traditional wooden dhow boat in Dubai Marina

Power bank – It’s never fun when you’re out exploring, and before you know it your smartphone is on 1%.

Getting yourself a portable power bank means you can keep it topped up with juice – so you can still navigate with your maps, take photos and keep in touch on the go.

Camera – Dubai is an impressive city, so adding a camera to your Dubai packing list is a great idea. You’ll get some awesome skyscraper shots here, while Old Dubai is surprisingly atmospheric.

Refillable water bottle – Dubai’s tap water is safe to drink, so taking along your own reusable water bottle not only saves you money on bottled water, it also saves the planet from excess plastic waste.

The famous Palm of Dubai at sunset

The famous Palm of Dubai at sunset

Kindle – It’s never going to be a substitute for reading a physical, real-life book, but if you devour books at speed (or if you like to read multiple things at once), a Kindle is super practical.

There’s no way you’re fitting eight books in your carry-on.

Sleeping maskWhen you really need some shut eye, and if the hotel curtains aren’t up to scratch you can carry on sleeping until your alarm wakes you up – not when the sun rises.

Beautiful sunset views in Dubai desert

Beautiful sunset views in Dubai desert

Final thoughts on what to wear in Dubai

There you have it, the ultimate Dubai packing list! Have you been to Dubai before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!

I have visited Dubai multiple times, and although it takes a bit more planning when packing, it’s not something I’d ever let deter me from visiting.

Sure, there are rules around what to wear in Dubai, but it’s still an incredible place to visit, with stunning beaches, amazing skyline views and a vibrant lifestyle.

Generally speaking, as long as you dress modestly and don’t rock a bikini in a place where you shouldn’t be so unclothed, you’ll be fine. Just follow the guidance in this Dubai packing list, and you won’t have any issues.

I hope you have found my advice on what to wear in Dubai useful! If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!

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Photo collage of a blonde girl walking along Dubai Marina, in front of the sunset at The View at the Palm, in front of Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with text overlay saying "Dubai packing list"

Photo collage of a blonde walking along Dubai Marina and walking on a sand dune in the desert at sunset with text overlay saying "What to wear in Dubai"