There are dress codes in the Middle East that you would be wise to follow. If you don’t, you could even end up with a visit from the police. The rules require modesty and derive from Middle Eastern cultural norms.
Know when the dress code applies.
The dress code in the Middle East does not apply to your own home or inside your hotel room. You can wear whatever you want there. However, it does apply in public places.
Examples of public places where the dress code applies include theaters, markets, malls, supermarkets, and the public areas of hotels.
When you are inside your car driving on a public roadway, the dress code still applies. You may be given an Abaya to wear when you visit an official government building or courts. This is a piece of clothing that overs what you are wearing.
Follow the key rules. They may not be what you’re used to, but they show cultural respect and will stop you from getting into trouble.
The general rule is that you should cover everything from your shoulders to your knees. Avoid showing cleavage, and watch clothing that is tight or see through. Women should not wear sleeveless garments.
For men, this means you should not show your bare chest in public. Avoid shorts, especially short ones, and don’t wear swimwear outside of the pool or beach area. Don’t unbutton your shirt to show chest hair. Men should not show their knees, either.
Choose some common wardrobe staples. There are certain pieces of clothing that comply with the dress code. So you might want to pack a lot of them.
Pashmina shawls can be used to cover up, including in your car. Capri pants will keep your legs cool but still cover up enough. A scarf is a good idea when visiting a mosque. T-shirts are fine. Spaghetti strap tops aren’t a good idea.
Leggings can be work under short dresses to cover the legs. Cardigans are a good choice for covering the shoulders. However, don’t wear leggings as your only pants.
Avoid banned items. You’re going to be in trouble if you choose certain clothing items in Dubai, so it’s best to avoid them completely.
Daisy Duke shorts, very short mini-skirts, tube tops, crop tops and mesh dresses can violate the dress code. Cover underwear, and keep it from public view. Under no circumstances, should your underwear be visible in public. G-strings, bras, and underwear briefs that show through clothing will violate the dress code.
Lycra body dresses and very short playsuits also might get you in trouble. The same is true of clothing with see through fabric or cut outs.
Wear the right clothes to restaurants or bars. Many upscale restaurants, especially those that sell alcohol, will require men to wear covered shoes and long trousers.
For women, it’s a good idea not to show cleavage or thighs, although sandals are fine.
The dress code is generally looser at nightclubs or bars. Malls have signs instructing customers to cover their shoulders and knees.
Wear the right swimwear. It’s allowed to wear bikinis and swimsuits around pools or when you are at the beach, but there are some limitations. Don’t wear thong swim suit bottoms. Change your swimwear before you leave the pool or be ach area and, say, go into a store. It’s a violation of the dress code to wear wet swimsuits under clothing if the clothing then becomes see through.
Topless sunbathing is not allowed in Dubai; in fact, it’s illegal. Choosing a one-piece swimming suit is probably a good idea. At public beaches, wearing a T-shirt and shorts is a better idea
For the Men:
Ghutrah: A typical headscarf worn by men, the ghutrah is also known by the name of keffiyeh/kufiya, or shemagh in other Arabic countries. Made from square cloth of cotton in chequered patterns, it is draped over the head in various styles. In dry climates, these scarves provide protection from blowing dust and harsh rays of the sun.