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United Arab Emirates Dress Code English

Welcome to the U.A.E. The United Arab Emirates prides itself in maintaining its traditional values and customs as we modernize as develop. As we have globalized, we opened our doors welcoming people, ideas, cultures and traditions from around the world. We hope your stay in the Emirates is filled with excitement, adventure and cultural exploration. But most importantly, we hope your experience is as positive as possible. The U.A.E. is an environment where people from different walks of life teach and learn from one another. Yet essential to our development is the pride we have in our traditions. We want everyone who steps foot on our land to experience it. Beyond experiencing

it, we expect that people open their minds and respect our lifestyle. Just as any other culture, ours has its own particularities. A key aspect to this experience is how we conduct ourselves in public places. For you to get the fullest of your time in the U.A.E, we ask you to read this booklet. Here, we will explain how Arabs conduct themselves in public when it comes to clothing. The Arab dress code discussion started online, but we want to spread it beyond the pages on the Internet. Hopefully, by reading it, you will be able to better feel as part of our environment and enjoy your trip without disrespecting the citizens from the U.A.E. ‫ !ابحرم عسإ‬Welcome!

What is the U.A.E. Dress Code? Each country has its peculiarities when it comes to dressing, and it couldn’t be different in the U.A.E. For us, our clothes represent us. We believe that there are respectful ways to dress up when walking on the streets, and we expect that all people, visitors included, understand and follow our dress code. After some occurrences between U.A.E citizens and foreigners, several websites started discussing what came to be known as the UAEDressCode: an explanation of how we dress and, most importantly, how we expect others to dress up while in the Emirates.

The dress code around the U.A.E. varies. In some emirates it is even enforced by law, like Sharjah, but in others it is more of a cultural understanding and expectation. Nonetheless, as Arabs we hold honor at the highest maxim and believe we must present ourselves with honor and pride. Honor in the U.A.E. is collective, whether you are a citizen, resident, or a tourist. For women, we expect them to have their chest, shoulders and knees covered.Feminine clothes should not be too revealing, so avoid transparencies as well. Other than that, it is ok to wear

makeup, nail polish, jewelry, etc. We love colors, so don’t be afraid to where them or even patterns. Men are also asked not to wear clothes that are too revealing. They are not expected to wear tight or above knee shorts. If men plan to visit a mosque, they should be aware that they are required to wear long trousers. Be aware that T-shirts and blouses with offensive slogans or pictures, gestures, or obscene language that might cause religious or cultural offence are not acceptable. In the next pages, we focus more specifically on how the dress code works in different Emirates and what is expected from visitors of different countries when arriving here. Be sure to read it before you visit any of these Emirates. We know that these rules are not difficult to follow. Be open to insert yourself in the full U.A.E. experience. Follow these simple rules and we are sure that your experience will be more exciting than you could ever expect.

Some general rules • You are encouraged to wear your traditional attire but ensure it isn’t provocative. • You are always welcome to wear traditional Emirati clothing – a kandora and gotra for men, and an abaya and shayla for women. • Crossdressing is not tolerated by law. However, if you’re Scottish you are encouraged to wear a kilt. • A swimsuit is meant for the beach or pool. It may be considered as undergarments in other public areas, and dressing so is punishable by law. • Abu Dhabi and Dubai follow a cultural understanding and expectation. Sharjah follows a law. The remaining four Emirates are very conservative. • If you’re ever unsure about what you’re wearing then don’t wear it.

Abu Dhabi The U.A.E. Capital The largest of the seven Emirates and host to several international sporting events, Abu Dhabi has a Western-Arab outlook as it blends tradition with Western modernity. The city is home to the largest population of Emiratis and expects cultural norms to be followed. Abu Dhabi is a conservative city, which means clothes should be conservative as well. It is not recommended to wear revealing clothes in public places. Even though it can be very hot during summer, with temperatures around 40o C (104o F),

you don’t have to worry about feeling too hot. Most public places have air conditioning systems. That doesn’t mean though that you have to cover yourself head-to-toe. To avoid offending Abu Dhabi’s citizens, choose clothing that doesn’t expose the cleavage, upper arms, thighs or midriff. Usually, in hotel grounds the atmosphere is more informal, but be considerate when leaving to go to other places. Some restaurants, for example, tend to have specific dress codes to its clients. So don’t forget to check before going to any of our restaurants. Choose something that is not only comfortable to you but to other people with whom you will be sharing public spaces.


The Commercial Capital The city is known for its infrastructural magnificence and business driven outlook. It is believed every globally recognized brand is available in Dubai, and if not, they will be made available. Dubai is the biggest tourist attraction in the U.A.E. Tall buildings and big malls, Dubai is about living it large. Despite this progressive outlook, Dubai has its own norms. Though they are not enforced by a law, deviation from norms can get you into trouble.

That is why most public attractions in Dubai have a “dress code and behavior� notice at their entrances. In general, clothing is tolerated as long as it is not too outrageous. In order to be respectful, cover knees and shoulders and everything in between. Very tight or low cut clothes are not well accepted. When visiting pool areas or beaches, bikinis are acceptable as long as genital areas, breasts (for women) and buttocks are covered. If you are not sure if your clothes are offensive or not, it means that they probably are.

Sharjah The Cultural Capital

A noticeable difference when travelling from any other Emirate to Sharjah is the architecture. It is said that while Abu Dhabi and Dubai invested in diversifying their landscape, Sharjah invested in remaining culturally significant. Sharjah boasts of its cultural landscape. Its infrastructure still retains Arab architecture and it strongly enforces Arab norms. Sharjah is the only Emirate that enforces a dress code through a law. Knees

and shoulders must be covered for both men and women. Men are not supposed to have long hair or wear jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, and bangles. Women should cover their arms at least to the elbows. Transparent or revealing clothing are not accepted. Although bathing suits are allowed in some beaches, walking back to the hotel wearing just a towel around you is not. In order not to have any surprises if you encounter Sharjah citizens or police, it is a good idea to be more circumspect in public places. Some people have even gotten fined for dressing incompatibly with the so called “decency rules�.

Other emir And the dress code Ajman, Fujairah, Um alQuwain and Ras alKhaimah explain how the U.A.E. is a blend of modernization and tradition. While the other Emirates are commercially driven and very modernized, these four Emirates follow the traditional Arab way of life. Despite not being very commercial, these Emirates are known for their historical significance and natural resources which attracts tourists to these parts. Though these Emirates aren’t densely populated and don’t have a law enforcing a dress code, they are very

rates conservative in their outlook. The way one dresses could offend the residents of these Emirates. Special caution needs to be taken in these Emirates as the Arab way of living is very prominent. Especially during Ramadan, it is important to be respectful. Tourists should be considerate of Emirati culture and religion. Just as the other Emirates, both men and women should have their bodies covered from shoulder to knees. By looking around, you will see how others dress and act. That is a good clue to how you should dress and act in public places. All Emirates are very welcoming, as long as you respect their culture.

UAE Dress Code - English Version  
UAE Dress Code - English Version  

This version of our booklet is translated in English.