Using our insider knowledge of Dubai, we’ve put together a packing list for your trip. Even though this is a cosmopolitan city with many indoor and air-conditioned spaces, you can still find plenty of outdoor activities whether it is summer or winter.
It is likely that you will pack somewhat more conservative clothing than you might normally pack for a hot, beachy vacation. Your best bet is to wear light cotton clothing all year round.
For further information about the dress code in Dubai & Abu Dhabi, consult our Insider Guide which breaks down the dos and don’ts in detail. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are packing essentials all year round – there are almost always blue skies and sunshine!
What to Expect in Dubai:
The cultural landscape of Dubai is important to know before we explain what to wear in Dubai. International hotspots such as Dubai are becoming increasingly popular. In addition to high fashion, there is a fusion of cuisines and cultures from every corner of the world.
You will be able to find British pharmacies and supermarkets along with local options when it comes to stocking up on supplies. In addition to taxis, Ubers, bicycles, and an easy-to-use metro system, there are several other modes of transportation available.
Traditional Dubai vs. New Dubai:
There is a difference between traditional Emirati culture and the new, cosmopolitan Dubai. You’d be expected to uphold cultural norms like a modest dress and gender separation if visiting a traditional local household.
Chances are you’ll stay in hotels and restaurants you’d recognize in New York or Madrid unless you have a personal connection to locals. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is the least traditional city. Most Western metropolises have the same cultural expectations as Dubai if you stay in well-traveled, public places.
Cultural Expectations in Dubai:
In the UAE, the majority of the people are Muslim, and religious conservatism is more prevalent than in many European and North American countries. Women and men interact differently than in your country, as well as expectations for them.
Sharia Law punishes homosexuality with ten years in prison or even the death penalty. In addition to being punished by jail time, having a sexual relationship with someone you aren’t married to is also a criminal offense.
When displaying affection in public, be discrete. It is possible to get in trouble in Dubai for smooching or even holding hands in public. As a traveler, you must be culturally aware and respectful, regardless of your feelings. Some travelers will be concerned about their health and safety.
Modest Dressing in Dubai:
When visiting the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi or other culturally sensitive sites, pack some modest clothing despite Dubai being a large, cosmopolitan city.
Visit mosques or other holy sites with a scarf or pashmina even if women are not required to cover their hair. In Dubai, you’ll see many Muslims dressed in traditional garb from the UAE and other countries. Even in fancy boutiques and restaurants, some women wear burqas head-to-toe.
The attire you wear as a guest does not have to match theirs. Let the traditionalists have their space, however. When traveling, be considerate and conscious.
What to Wear in Dubai:
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and modest clothing on your Middle Eastern adventure. There is a lot of humidity and heat. Desert nights can be chilly, but all-season air conditioners keep most indoor establishments cool.
Here’s your Dubai packing list:
- Wear 3-5 pairs of socks that are quick-drying and breathable
- Underwear set of five
- One sports bra and two bras
- Layer 3-5 tops to keep your shoulders covered
- Wear one set of pajamas or two sets of leggings, shorts, and tees
- Workout gear that goes from a hike to gym in 1-2 sets
- You should have 1-2 pairs of casual pants including one pair of shorts, capris, or a skirt that covers your knees
- Sandals or flip-flops
- Wear a cardigan, sweatshirt, or light jacket
- Keep those shoulders covered with a sarong or wrap
- There is one swimsuit
- Dubai nights on the town definitely call for dressy attire.
- Dressy shoes: 1 pair
Toiletries to Pack for Dubai:
Toiletry packing is always a challenge. Unless what you’re craving is brand-specific, you’ll likely find it in Dubai if you purchase what you need upon arrival. Be sure to bring anything you need if you have allergies or brand preferences.
You can fill up any other necessities with local items if you do not need much for the first few days. For those of you with sensitive skin, I recommend bringing sunscreen. The desert is no joke when it comes to the sun.
- Packs of tissues or baby wipes (small packs for easy travel)
- For a few days in the desert, you’ll need extra moisturizing lotion.
- It is always a good idea to use eco-friendly or dry shampoo and conditioner
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
- A shaving kit is essential
- Solution for contact lenses (especially if it is specific to sensitive eyes)
- Your choice of sanitary products (you might have a hard time finding the type you like)
- In Dubai, going out at night definitely involves makeup (if you wear any).
- Headbands are always a good idea for hair products/accessories
- To keep dust/sand out of your nose, eyes, and mouth during desert excursions, wear a buff or scarf.
- Anti-insect spray
- Always wear sunblock (especially if it is brand-specific – don’t forget to reapply)
- When traveling through sticky cities, baby powder can be a lifesaver
- The deodorant
Frequently Asked Question:
Shorts, pants, shirts, and t-shirts are all acceptable for men. Shop malls, local areas, mosques, and during Ramadan, there is a stricter dress code. Women can wear dresses, skirts, shorts, and t-shirts. Knees and shoulders should always be covered when in doubt.
In nightclubs, skin-tight jeans might be acceptable, but in other public places, they might be offensive. Dubai does not allow ripped jeans.
The maximum amount of currency you can carry while traveling to Dubai is $3000. An individual is generally allowed to remit $2,50,000 per year under the Liberalised Remittance Plan for Residents.
Learn about Middle Eastern architecture and varied religious beliefs while hanging with penguins, tasting new foods, learning about Middle Eastern architecture, and spending the night under the impeccable desert sky.
- Make sure you pack your backpack with purpose: less is more
- It is important to wear modest clothing
- Interact with other cultures with an open mind
- Apply sunscreen again
- Take advantage of Dubai’s desert oasis
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