What to Pack for Dubai: Top Dubai Packing List Essentials

A question I mostly face from first-timers to Dubai as a local here is, “what to pack for Dubai?”. Well, Dubai is not the friendliest when it comes to the weather. This is why I have compiled an extensive Dubai packing list to keep in mind when packing for Dubai.

Climate in Dubai: 

Like I said before, Dubai has only two main seasons; winter and summer. All of us Dubai residents struggle with the heat here (it goes up to 50 degrees Celsius sometimes!) and indoor places like the malls and restaurants become our favorite outings during summer in Dubai. Click here to find a detailed guide about what to do in Dubai during each season.

Winter in Dubai lasts for only about 3-4 months (December-February or March), you can call this spring actually if you are visiting Dubai from the colder parts of the world. South Asian destination visitors will most likely find this time cold.

Dubai Skyline: What to Pack for Dubai

Things to know before visiting Dubai:

Before you actually start packing and asking all the questions about how to dress in Dubai, let me walk you through some misconceptions about Dubai that will help you understand and plan your trip better:

  • Dubai Dress Code – Dubai is pretty common when compared to its other Middle Eastern neighbors and allows most types of clothing. However, low hanging necklines and revealing backsides are an absolute “no-no” in public places. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen people dress up like they’re going to the beach. It just takes little to know about a country’s dress code and adhere to it. This becomes exceptionally important during the Holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast throughout the month and refrain from entertaining activities. To know all about Ramadan in Dubai and the rules to follow, read this article
  • Public Display of Affection – While Dubai is pretty modern, it is still a Muslim country and abides by a no PDA rule. Doing so may give you sharp glares or you may even be approached by an official.
  • Woman Safety – Dubai is safe for women and children. I can go outdoors and even 3 am and come back home safely without the fear of being mugged. Unlike what most people think, the United Arab Emirates has and will always allow women to drive and go out alone. I hold a UAE driving license since 18 years of age

visit-dubai-in-one-day

FAQs about what to wear in Dubai:

Some common questions that most tourists to Dubai have are about what to wear in Dubai. I have tried to address the most asked questions so as to help you form an idea about what to and what not to wear in Dubai.

  • What can women wear in Dubai? Everything from casual dresses, jumpsuits, and kaftans, to formal business suits and gowns. Only remember to keep your attire related to the place you are visiting.

For public places like the mall, restaurants, and popular tourist attractions, it is best to go with a modest dressing that does not show cleavage for women. Men and women should also take note to not wear clothes that reveal the midriff area or show their backside if they bend.

If you are shopping in Old Dubai where the souqs and bazaars are, bear in mind that most of the population there is from South East Asia or Iran who are quite conservative. For women, keeping a shawl or pashmina to drape around shoulders might be a good option to avoid stares and second glances.

What to wear in Dubai summer

Can you wear shorts in Dubai? Can women wear shorts in Dubai? The short answer is, yes (haha sorry for the pun!) But, like said previously, anything that might be considered too revealing is best to avoid. Examples like extra short shorts that hardly cover the bum or those that show what underwear you are wearing should be completely avoided.

Shorts that are a little above the knee are acceptable in beaches, outdoor areas, and some malls. However, it will be best to go for jumpsuits or trousers which even look great in my opinion!

What do women wear in Dubai? Okay, you’ve seen the black gown that most women wear in Dubai? It is called an abaya, the head is covered with a scarf called sheila. Even I wear one myself. The most common misconception is that only Middle Eastern women wear it and it is an Arab thing. However, all Muslim women are allowed to wear it as Islam promotes modest dressing that does not show off parts of your body to strangers.

Men, however, have a traditional dress that they wear in the country. It is a long, white gown called kandura and the head is covered with a black robe called ghatra.

It is acceptable to wear the traditional clothing of Dubai and take pictures for your memories too 🙂

What to wear to a mosque in Dubai? Entering a religious place should be done with regard to the dress code they abide by. For women, a long gown covering knees, shoulders, and cleavage is acceptable. A headscarf also should be worn to cover the hair.

As for men, formal/ semi-formal shirts will do with casual jeans that are not ripped in the knees. The main idea is to be as modest as possible with your dressing to ensure that you don’t get held back from your mosque tour.

What to wear in Dubai desert safari? As the desert is very hot, I suggest wearing light clothes like a simple top and jeans. Since you may be sweating due to the heat and doing some activities, make sure you are dressed in comfortable clothes and shoes.

Evenings at the desert might get a little chilly, so pack a light jacket or a shawl to drape around yourself.

What to wear in Dubai in February? February is the time when winter is almost fading away, your packing list can be lighter and needn’t be filled with jackets. This is probably the best time to visit Dubai

Dubai Packing List Essentials: 

Before jetting off to anywhere, there are a few documents you need to take of. The most obvious one is to have your passport valid at least 6 months of traveling and back.

Depending on the duration of your holiday in Dubai, your visa processing time and fees will differ. However, for most applicants,  the standard documents needed are a passport, photographs, and papers confirming your stay in Dubai. Click here to know all the details.

Flights to Dubai vary according to the season you are traveling. The winter seasons in Dubai are the most popular. If you would like to save up on flights, traveling during the off-peak seasons would be the most budget-friendly. Click here to check current flight rates.

Things to pack for Dubai:

Mentioned below is a Dubai holiday checklist with some of the standard things you should carry whether you travel during the winter or summer.

  • Sunscreen – Hand luggage friendly and easy application
  • Moisturizer – very essential during winters. I particularly love this brand and the beautiful fragrance of oud. Click here to buy it
  • Passport Holder – There is a range of available choices online, whether you like to have a professional passport cover or are more adventurous cover like this one
  • Map of the metro/ bus routes – I have also found downloading this on my phone very helpful for any country that I am visiting
  • Your phone should have Google Maps downloaded
  • Laptop – I personally use this one and love it to edit pictures and videos and manage my website
  • Camera – This is the camera I currently use and cannot recommend enough. It’s travel-friendly and easy for beginners with great features!
  • Water bottle – Add fruits or lemon to your water, or just plain ice cubes to keep cool. A water bottle is a must to avoid dehydration during sightseeing
  • Adaptor – UAE has a different electric socket system so this will be useful to charge your electronics without having to worry

What to wear in Dubai: Dubai Packing List

Clothes to Pack for Dubai:

What to wear in Dubai in December

  • long skirts
  • blouses or cotton tops – many so easy to change if you sweat
  • scarves/hats
  • cotton jumpsuits
  • Maxi dresses/ kaftans
  • easy sandals/flip flops
  • traditional jalabiya

What to wear in Dubai in August 

  • bag of toiletries
  • swimwear
  • sunglasses
  • flip flops

This Dubai holiday packing list is also good for traveling to the other emirates in the UAE. Want to take a trip to the capital? Here is an ultimate Abu Dhabi guide with all the things to do and see there.

Dubai is a modern city and very understanding of other cultures, which is why it is easy for numerous nationalities to reside in this city. As a traveler to any new country, I always bear in mind to respect the traditions and culture of the host country. This is one of the most important things to becoming a responsible traveler.

Although strict, this is how the United Arab Emirates maintains decorum and is one of the most visited countries by tourists all over the world. I hope you enjoy your travels to my country! For more updates and other tips about visiting Dubai, click here!

Until then, happy traveling! xx

P.S. To save and read later, here are some pinnable versions 🙂

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9 thoughts on “What to Pack for Dubai: Top Dubai Packing List Essentials

  1. I love articles like this which break down misconceptions. I have friends who live in Dubai and their beach photos look much like beach photos anywhere in the world. I would love to visit some of the mosques one day, so thanks for the attire tips.

    1. Glad I could be of help! Visiting the mosques is a nice experience and you also get to learn about the culture here

  2. I’ve visited Dubai many times over the years and always found it was very liberal in regards to clothing. I always found people very friendly and helpful too. It’s a,leave I’ll always go back to, despite the horrid summer weather!

    1. Yes, no idea why people have so many misconceptions! The summer gets tough, but there are many things to do indoors 😉

  3. Thank you for your honest suggestions! I appreciate your thorough packing list explaining the name and purpose of each garment worn by women and men in Dubai. I think there are too many assumptions floating around about the region and sharing accurate information helps breakdown those preconceived notions.

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