Covering with Style in Dubai

Updated: May 29, 2020

Picture this. Your trip to Dubai is coming up. You got an unbelievably amazing deal when you booked three months ago (without telling your supervisor), and you are mentally ready to board the plane. Physically? Not so much. Nothing is packed because you’re wondering what the hell you can bring to cover up while still looking stylish. We got you, boo!

When traveling to Muslim countries, it’s imperative to be aware of how to dress – especially women. It’s a sign of respect and can even help put you at ease, knowing you won’t stick out as an inconsiderate foreigner.

Cardi B in Dubai filming "Bodak Yellow"
Cardi B in Dubai filming "Bodak Yellow"

After thorough research and speaking with black expats and travelers, it’s been concluded that you are not required to cover up, BUT it’s a safe bet to cover arms and legs. Showing cleavage is definitely frowned upon. (You should also look into carrying around a thin head scarf to cover your hair – just in case.)

Keep in mind that it’s hot as all hell, even more so in Summer, so you want your clothing material to be thin and breathable.

Here are the ways you can dress by location:

Beachside in Dubai

You can guarantee that you won’t find any nudity at a Dubai beach or pool, but bikinis are allowed. Any type of swimsuit attire is generally approved, and there is an option to wear full-cover Islamic swimsuits. Shorts with tank tops or sundresses are also commonly worn to the Dubai beaches, like Jumeirah Beach. Remember to cover up after leaving the beach; you won’t be accepted into other establishments in your beach attire.

Ballin’ in the Mall in Dubai

Whether you’re looking to shop until you drop or ball on a budget, you should dress modestly when attending places like the mall. You can opt for a full-length dress, long sleeve jumper, or trouser to cover your upper and lower body. Other acceptable clothing items include fitted jeans, t-shirts, and knee-length skirts. We’re on the fence about leggings because it can be too revealing. We say you don’t wear it unless your shirt is long enough to cover your butt.

Excuse the terrible pic but you can see what Queen Bey wore inside a Dubai Mall back in 2014. She’s in all black, fully-covered from the neck down. 

Beyonce at a mall in Dubai
Beyonce at a mall in Dubai

Brunchin’ and Munchin’ in Dubai

If you’re out to eat in Dubai (noon or night), you can be comfortable, respectful and chic by wearing an outfit that does show too much cleavage. By no means are you to grab a turtle neck, though.

Ciara, looking flawless in Dubai.
Here’s our girl, Ciara, looking flawless in Dubai (yes, it’s designer) for a fashion show.

The good news is you can wear tight-fitted clothing or dresses above the knees. If you’re unsure, you can always call the restaurant ahead of time and ask for their dress code. The last thing you’d want is to get dolled up and realize you can’t get in because of something you’re wearing. 

Exploring Dubai

Planning on exploring the pyramids, or visiting the Grand Mosque? You are expected to cover up. Ladies, you can wear conservative, loose-fitting clothing like a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Or, you can go for the traditional route and wear an abaya – the symbolic black, flowing dress worn by women in Dubai. A head wrap, or ghutra, is also required for the mosque entrance, and it can help protect your face – while keeping you modest -- when out exploring pyramids as well. 

Rihanna in Dubai, before she reportedly got kicked out for failure to obtain permission for this photoshoot.

When traveling to new places, it’s best to indulge in the culture (and not push your own into it). This means understanding how to dress appropriately in different countries. You can be stylishly covered up and enjoy your trip to Dubai respectfully, as shown above.

Remember, when in doubt, either cover up or call the establishment. Now that you have an idea of how to culturally slay. How do you plan on styling your Dubai outfits? Be sure to tag @TheFemtourage in your vacation pics.