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Dress code in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

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Dress code in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Dubai and the UAE have varying degrees of tolerance to clothing styles from around the world and how to dress in the UAE. There are legal guidelines as to what is not acceptable, especially in Sharjah which has its own decency laws, but in general, residents, visitors, and tourists can mostly wear what they like within reason. If you like to reveal more flesh than commonly accepted in the office place, or like to wear what many would regard as extreme, offensive, or off-beat clothing, then it would be wise to tone down your dress code in the UAE, especially outside Dubai, and especially areas with a greater proportion of nationalities likely to be offended, and especially during Ramadan.

This information guide is generally intended for western expatriates and tourists since they are usually the ones who most commonly come into conflict with dress codes in the UAE. Arab citizens from GCC countries tend to wear similar clothing, and other Arabs and most Asians usually dress more conservatively than westerners anyway.

Consequences of not following the dress code in Dubai
Don't go shopping in your underwear in Dubai - Oct 2012
Dress code in Dubai and UAE May-June 2012

In May 2012, a flurry of activity began on Twitter (hash-tag #uaedresscode, twitter handle @uaedresscode), complaining about the standard of dress of some residents and tourists, focused on women wearing short shorts or skirts, flimsy tops, and other clothing (or lack of it) which highlighted female body parts that some people find offensive when displayed publicly (men were also complained about but not so much). Newspapers in the UAE covered the discussion, usually with photographs of women in Dubai wearing skimpy clothes. It wasn't clear why newspapers wanted to publish photographs of women who had prompted the dress code discussion - perhaps they thought some readers didn't know what a short skirt looked like, or perhaps they wanted to try and annoy readers who might be offended at photographs of women wearing insufficient clothing in Dubai. UAE newspapers often publish photos of women wearing skimpy clothes anyway - usually for advertisements or because they want to draw attention to a woman wearing skimpy clothes for some other reason (actress, fashion model, females attending nightclubs in the UAE, and so on). One newspaper even has a weekly "HotSpot" or "Hot Spot" with a photograph of a hot ... er ... attractive young female living in the UAE (and often wearing skimpy clothes). Which leaves some residents confused about what newspaper editors really think about UAE culture with respect to dress codes.

Dress code laws in UAE emirates (Gulf News 01 June 2012)
Dress code in UAE for Emiratis and Gulf Nationals
Wearing shorts in Dubai a risky business?
Wearing a bikini in a Dubai shopping mall

In August 2010, a British woman shopper at The Dubai Mall reportedly stripped down to her bikini after being dressed down about her dress sense by an Arab lady. Other reports said the Brit was wearing see-through clothing. Dubai Police were called, and there was a visit to the police station for both ladies apparently, but no charges were laid, or charges were laid but dropped.

See Dubai Mall bikini for more details.

What to wear and what not to wear in public in Dubai
What to wear to other locations in Dubai
What to wear to work in Dubai

A note about the climate - natural fabrics (cotton, linen, wool) suit many people better than artificial fabrics (polyester) due to the ability to "breathe" better. Some people may like to keep something warm handy for the office - the A/C can be quite cool in many places.

What to wear in other emirates
Dress code during Ramadan
Don't run naked at the beach
Wearing t-shirts in Dubai with pictures of naked women on them
Last update Sunday 15-Dec-2013. Page development 4L 5C.
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Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

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