What to Wear: Abu Dhabi Dress Code

Are you planning to visit Abu Dhabi anytime soon? Whether you are coming here for work, business, travel, or all of the above… you will never run out of places to see and things to do in this beautiful city, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Of course, with the UAE being a Muslim country, there are certain things to consider, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. Among these is the dress code. What should men and women wear while staying in Abu Dhabi? What type of clothes should I bring during the summer and winter? These are just some of the topics that we’ll be discussing in this article.

Abu Dhabi Dress Code

Guide to the Dress Code in Abu Dhabi

As mentioned earlier, the UAE is a Muslim country, just like several other countries in the Middle East. Typically, the locals or “Emiratis” wear traditional clothing.

Emirati men usually wear a floor-length, white kandura or dishdasha, along with a headpiece (ghutrah), which is held in place by a black egal. Meanwhile, the women usually wear a floor-length, black abaya, along with a black head covering (shayla). Some women wear a full niqab or burkha, which covers almost the entire face, although this is quite uncommon.

Now that you know what the locals wear, how about the expats and tourists? Keep on reading to learn about the do’s and don’ts of dressing up in Abu Dhabi. In particular, we’ll be talking about the dress code in different places, as well as the recommended clothing for different seasons.

Dress Code for Men

Here are some do’s and don’ts for male tourists and expats when it comes to dressing up in Abu Dhabi:

  • DO… Wear shorts that are at knee-length (at least).
  • DO… Wear light clothing that can protect your skin from the hot weather.
  • DON’T… Wear tops with revealing shoulders or very low necklines.
  • DON’T… Wear tops and shirts containing text and images that may be offensive to the local culture.

Dress Code for Women

As for the women, below are some pointers on what to wear:

  • DO… Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and legs, especially in public places.
  • DO… Wear skirts, pants, or trousers that are knee-length or longer.
  • DO… Carry a shawl everywhere you go. You may need to “cover up” in certain places, while protecting your skin from dust and the hot weather.
  • DON’T… Wear clothes that are too revealing or transparent.
  • DON’T… Wear clothes that are too clingy or tight.

What to Wear at the Mosque

Are you planning to visit the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi? If so, be sure to follow these rules on dressing up:

For male visitors:

  • DO… Wear tops or shirts that cover your shoulders.
  • DO… Wear pants or long trousers. If you are wearing shorts, authorities at the mosque will ask you to wear a kandura.

For female visitors:

  • DO… Wear clothes that cover your head, shoulders, and knees.
  • DO… Wear an abaya and shayla, which cover the arms, legs, and head. If you don’t have these, authorities at the mosque can provide them for you.

What to Wear at Government Offices

There are times when you may need to go to a government office for various purposes (e.g. visa processing, driver’s license, etc.). In these cases, see to it that you are wearing appropriate attire:

  • DO… Dress more formally, such as suits, polos, and long pants for men, and formal blouses, long pants, or dresses for women.
  • DON’T… Wear sleeveless tops, low-cut tops, shorts, or short skirts.

Abu Dhabi Dress Code

What to Wear at the Mall

There are plenty of shopping destinations in Abu Dhabi, including modern malls and traditional markets or “souks.” In most of these places, you will see signboards reminding shoppers to wear “respectful” attire. Here are some fashion do’s and don’ts for mall visitors:

For male visitors:

  • DO… Wear long pants, trousers, or knee-length shorts.
  • DO… Wear tops or shirts made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
  • DON’T… Wear sleeveless tops or tank tops.
  • DON’T… Wear clothes containing texts or images that may be offensive.

For female visitors:

  • DO… Wear clothes that cover the shoulders and legs (at least knee-length).
  • DO… Carry a shawl in case you need to “cover up.”
  • DON’T… Wear tops or blouses with low necklines, and other clothes that are too revealing.

This rarely happens, but if someone at the mall complains about your “revealing” attire, you may be approached by that person — or by mall personnel — and asked to cover up. If this happens, the best thing to do would be to comply and cover yourself up with a shawl or jacket. If you don’t have a shawl, the mall authorities can provide one for you. Moreover, it’s best to avoid conflicts and arguments… so you can avoid getting into more serious trouble!

What to Wear at the Beach or Pool

Abu Dhabi has quite a number of beautiful beaches and resorts with swimming pools. Each place has its own set of rules when it comes to swimwear, with some being more “conservative” than others. Before you go to any beach or resort, don’t forget to inquire about the prescribed swimming attire.

In public beaches, for example, it’s best to come in more modest attire. This includes shorts for men, and bathing suits for women. Make sure that you have a bath robe or towel to cover yourself up, especially when walking in public areas.

In some private beaches and resorts, wearing swimming trunks and bikinis may be allowed. Of course, as cited earlier, it’s always a good idea to carry a bath robe or towel to cover yourself up, particularly when heading to public areas, such as restaurants and shops at the resort.

What to Wear During Summer

During the summer, the weather in Abu Dhabi — and the UAE in general — can be unbearably hot! Hence, it is wise to wear clothes made of cotton and other light fabrics. In addition, be sure to wear lots of sunscreen, and bring a hat and scarf everywhere you go!

What to Wear During Winter

“Winter” in the UAE is characterized by cool and rainy weather. During this period, it’s good to have a jacket at hand, along with an umbrella, raincoat, and other essentials. The air during this season may also get pretty dry, so be sure to lather up with lotion or moisturizer.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the dress code in Abu Dhabi depends on the specific place you are visiting, as well as the season. Some places may be more strict or conservative than others, but perhaps the key thing to remember is to dress with modesty.

Wherever you go, ask yourself these questions: “Am I dressed appropriately? Will my attire offend anyone or attract unwanted attention?” By keeping these in mind, you’re bound to have a problem-free and hassle-free stay in this city.

Aside from the above guidelines on what to wear, there are other things that you should be aware of while visiting or staying in this city. Check out these do’s and don’ts in Abu Dhabi if you are planning to come here anytime soon!

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