So, the big Dubai trip is planned but have you created your Dubai packing list? Here is your inside guide on what to wear and pack for Dubai.
What to remember when packing for Dubai
Dubai is an intriguing place. It has some of the world’s firsts and biggest in its list: the tallest building, award-winning restaurants, a man-made archipelago, ski centre in the dessert and much more. On a single trip to Dubai, you could be tackling the dunes on a quad bike, dining in a rooftop restaurant, shopping incessantly, taking a helicopter ride, and then cruising down a beautiful canal before heading to the beach. With such a cornucopia of attractions, it is head-spinning to know what to pack in that one little suitcase.
Avoid the stress and the backache with our essential Dubai packing list:
What to Wear in Dubai?
Wondering where to start? First, download our free ultimate packing guide. xx
Then, begin with a good, sturdy bag. After that, figure out your Dubai dress code.
Dubai is part of the UAE, which is an Islamic country with different rules to the UK and US. So, you probably have some questions. Can I wear a bikini on public beaches in Dubai? Is the burqa compulsory? Do women need to cover their hair?
Thankfully, Dubai is one of the most liberal cities in the country. It is a welcoming emirate and the reasonably relaxed. However, there are general rules and restrictions that you must abide by.
Dress Code for Women in Dubai
Rumours have it that women need to dress in a burqa. Well, that does not hold true for Dubai.
Women can wear maxi dresses, knee-length skirts, linen trousers, tee shirts, and blouses. All of these are given a big thumbs up. Women should avoid wearing sleeveless tops like tank tops an dresses with plunging necklines. Wearing something made from transparent or revealing material is also a big no. Long story short – there are no strict restrictions on your personal choices but the motto is to dress modestly and respectfully.
- You can find more detail and examples in this guide on what to wear in Jordan, a country pretty close by.
Dress Code for Men in Dubai
It is often said that men can wear anything in Dubai. But that’s not true, boys! You can definitely dress up in your formal suits or t-shirts and capris as you like. But you cannot wear shorts in religious or traditional places without being seen as offensive to local culture.
What is the local dress in Dubai?
There are more expats residing in Dubai than local people. But it is still interesting to know the local Emirati dress.
- Women wear an Abaya (a long, black, full-covered up cloak) and Hijab (headscarf/ veil). There are also other options like the Burqa.
- Men put on Kandura (a long robe), Ghutra (a white headdress), and Agal (a rope-like band to secure the Ghutra).
However, there’s no expectation that visitors wear these in the vast majority of places.
What to wear in Dubai on different occasions:
What to wear in Nightclubs, Restaurants, and on a Dhow Cruise in Dubai
Have your best dress on– because many bars, clubs, and restaurants (especially 5-star ones) do not permit people to wear shabby or scruffy clothes. Dhow Cruise Dubai is one of the perfect places to celebrate birthdays, milestones, anniversaries, or other romantic occasions. Guys, put on a smart-collared shirt and trousers. Ladies, go for glamour and wear a chic dress.
To be on the safe side, men can wear trousers, dressy shirts, polo tees, and jeans with covered shoes; women can have on skirts or modest cocktail dresses, A-line dresses, and blazer dresses with sandals or heels. While all kinds of stylish and fancy clothes are acceptable inside the clubs, carry a shawl or jacket to cover up when travelling from clubs to your hotel room. Tight-fitted, scanty, and revealing clothes are unacceptable in public areas.
What to Wear While Sightseeing & Shopping in Dubai?
Sightseeing in Dubai is a treat. You’ll find all kinds of hidden gems in Dubai, beyond more famous sites like the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Frame. Sauntering around the streets, you will soon realise that the city is obsessed with branded clothes, tech, and having the latest gear. So, dress appropriately.
Do not choose extremely short shorts or tops showing shoulders or midriff. There are several places, including shopping malls, that have a dress code chart. Wear decent and modest clothes that are good to go like t-shirts, shirts, cardigans, skirts, trousers, jeggings, and cargo pants (it can sometimes feel cold with the rather aggressive air conditioning.)
What to Wear in Old Dubai, at the Dubai Mosque, and in other Religious Places?
Even though the rest of Dubai is more relaxed, mosques in Dubai are sacred places and demand strict dress codes. There are mosques which only permit entry to those wearing Abaya and Kandura (gender-based Emirati gear), which is provided inside the premises. Otherwise, wear full-sleeved clothes. These religious landmarks require you to be covered up from head to toe, especially women.
When browsing the souks in Old Dubai, the place where most of the local Arabs live and wander, make sure to abide by a modest dress code as well.
What to wear on Dubai’s beaches and around the pools?
We’ll say it again: Dubai is a conservative city in a muslim country and nobody will appreciate you walking around in swimwear. You can put on a normal bikini/ swimsuit and hot pants at the beach or by private pools in hotels and at water parks, although a skimpy thong or bikini could be frowned upon.
Do not wear swimwear anywhere else. Even when walking from the beach to your rooms, change into a dress or wear a skirt. Similarly, men can wear beach attire exclusively at the beach and then throw on a t-shirt or shorts for walking back to the room.
What to wear on a desert safari in Dubai?
There is no particular dress code for desert safaris. But since it’s an outdoor excursion , you would want to keep it simple and un-fussy. Wear a loose tee coupled with joggers/ baggy jeans and comfortable footwear. Now, there has been a debate on whether should we wear open sandals or shoes. There will be several times that you jump and walk around in the sand, and sand could slip inside your shoes creating discomfort. Also, take a shawl or summer jacket as it could be cold in the evenings at the camp.
What to pack for Dubai in winter and summer?
While the entire country is bundled up in blankets at the year-end, Dubai continues to remain warm and pleasant. If you are traveling to Dubai in the winter months of November and December, you do not need those knee-length overcoats and trench coats. It could be chillier in the evenings, so it’s a good idea to just add an extra layer like light jackets, scarves, runners, and socks to your regular clothes.
Summer months are extremely hot. Light and breathable clothes work best.
Pro Tips to Pack Clothes for Dubai
- Pack versatile clothing
We are not telling you to stuff your luggage with everything. Make a mini wardrobe – and keep it multipurpose. Throw in some casuals like trousers and tees that can work well on the street and desert. Take jeans (women can wear tight-fitted jeans), capris, knee-length dresses, flowy gowns, full-length trousers, long-sleeved shirts/ tops, and maxi or long skirts. A set of pajamas, leggings, and workout gear can be helpful for hikes and at the gym.
- Say No to…
You can cut short your clothing list by keeping aside all those extremely short dresses or trousers, Lyra dresses, miniskirts, and sheer dresses. Also, since the weather is hot and sticky, avoid polyester material clothes or socks.
- Pick smart footwear
You will be flitting from beaches to restaurants and deserts to cruises. So, you can’t load every kind of footwear into your suitcase. Add a pair of flip-flops, sandals, good boots, and fancy high heels or dressy shoes.
- Choose layers
The evenings in Dubai could be crisp with a mild breeze. Add 2-3 layers like sweaters and cardigans. Fold and keep shawls, sarongs, and wraps. These could also help you in places where you have to cover your shoulders.
- Add essential supplements
Items like socks, scarves, shawls, and caps can be used for any purpose. Also, throw in breathable and easy-dry socks.
Other Handy Ideas for your Dubai Packing List
Don’t forget your passport! It’s seems obvious but every year, people forget them. Also, check the validity of your passport and the number of blank pages. The best thing to do is to download our free pre-trip checklist here.
- Beat the Heat
Besides clothes, some basic things deserve space in your luggage. As already mentioned, Dubai is a hot emirate with temperatures soaring during the day. So, throw in sunblock, hats, sunglasses, and moisturizer.
- Tech and gadgets
Digital nomad/ vlogger or not, chances are you’ll load a few gadgets for entertainment, photoshoots, and games. Put the laptop, camera, GoPro, and tab in a separate bag to help you take them out easily. And consider investing in a power bank if you find your battery running out often.
- First Aid Kit
A first aid kit with ointments, bandages, and medicines can help you overcome any minor emergencies in a foreign land. Dubai has strict rules for prescribed medications. So, carry your documents along with you.
Buy some toiletries beforehand to avoid splurging extra in Dubai. Things like tissues, wet wipes, toothpaste, shaving kit, shampoos, and sunscreen are important. Besides these, depending on your personal choices, pick deodorants, makeup if any, and hair accessories. Take all hygiene products and shower gel as well. An insect/ mosquito repellent can be useful at times.
- Go-To Items
A neck wallet, quick-dry travel towel, mini travel fan, good shoes, and portable chargers can help you in the long run. A reusable water bottle will help your refill and keep yourself hydrated through the tour. And what about a handbag where you can squeeze in all the necessary items that you require on your day out?
Make your trip to Dubai a fulfilling experience with the right things in your suitcase. Hopefully, this guide on what to pack for Dubai has answered most of your questions and left you with a thorough Dubai packing list. Have a wonderful trip!
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