Compared to most other places in the Middle East, Dubai has a liberal dress code. If this is your first time to visit the city, it’s good that you know about the customs and how to behave. There are some guidelines on what to wear, although people here can usually wear anything they like.
While Dubai is more tolerant, other emirates in the UAE tend to be more restrictive. This article focuses mainly on the dress code in Dubai, particularly in the office and in public places.
How to Dress in Public Places in Dubai
Here are the guidelines on what to wear in public places:
- Wearing shorts is generally acceptable.
- Sportswear (e.g. cycling shorts, swimwear) is recommended for the sport being played.
- Wearing long pants or trousers is required when visiting Mosques.
- Shirts containing words and images that are offensive to culture and religion are not acceptable.
- Low-cut shirts, spaghetti straps, and tight tops are NOT acceptable.
- Dresses and skirts must be knee-length or longer.
- Women do not have to cover their hair, heads, and faces in public, although Muslim women do so for cultural and religious reasons.
- When visiting Mosques, women should cover their hair, bodies, and legs, but covering their faces is not required.
- When visiting government offices, wearing conservative attire is recommended.
Consequences for Breaking the Dress Code
What happens if you are caught breaking the dress code? You may receive a verbal warning. In this case, it is best to apologize immediately and address the problem. Avoid engaging in an argument because the police may be called. In extreme cases, you could get one-month imprisonment or even deported for not following the rules.
As foreigners living in another country, it is important that we follow local culture and practices, including the dress code. This way, we are able to show our respect, just as we expect other people to be respectful of our own culture.
Dress Code in the Office
Here are some tips for men and women on dressing up for the office:
- Wearing long pants or trousers is recommended.
- Collared shirt (short or long-sleeved) is standard in most offices.
- Suit and tie may be required in some professions or formal occasions.
- Wearing a dress or knee-length skirt is recommended.
- Full-length pants or trousers are allowed.
- Blouses and shirts should cover the upper arms.
- Ask your company about the official dress code.
- Choose natural fabrics (e.g. cotton, wool, linen) that can keep you cool in the warm climate.
In the office, it is recommended that women wear sleeves that cover their upper arms.