Do I have to wear a headscarf? May I wear a bikini on the beach? These and similar questions crop up again and again when it comes to Abu Dhabi holidays. We tell you how to dress appropriately in the Emirates. And in advance we can tell you that there is much ado about nothing.
Basically, it is not recommended to wear very revealing clothes in public places. But not because of any penalties (they do not exist) but simply because of the respect for the local people and customs.
As already mentioned, "respectful" clothing would be recommended but you don´t have to. As long as you do not walk up and down the streets in transparent clothes or your bikini, it's no problem.
In almost every mall in the Emirates, there are signboards that advise the visitor to wear "respectful" clothing. This means shoulders and knees should be covered but if you enter one of the many malls you will quickly realize that you are probably the only person who has read this information and obviously nobody cares about it.
The reason for this is quite simple: this "rule" is only used when someone complains about another person´s attire, which almost never happens. Even if it happens, the worst case will be that a very polite security will approach you and respectfully ask you to cover yourself. If you dont have a shawl or jacket, most of the malls will provide something.
That's it, nothing else happens, so no cause for concern!
For activities such as desert safaris, boat trips or sightseeing tours, nothing stands in the way of comfortable clothing. Just wear what you like; short dresses, shorts or T-shirts.
Only when visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, of course, you have to abide by the Muslim regulations. But dont worry, at the entrance there is free rental of simple Abayas for women and Kandooras for men.
At this point, a tip for the fashion-conscious woman: If you don´t want to look like a bleached Smurf, you should buy yourself a traditional Abaya in or around the many small shops at Hamdan Center.
There is no difference to Europe or other western countries. This means that women do NOT have to wear burkini here but can of course enjoy the Arabian sun in their bikini or bathing suit.
Note: Topless sunbathing and nudity is not allowed all over the UAE.
It is recommended that you dress more conservatively during the holy month of Ramadan.
The UAE is a very modern country and there are very light restrictions on dresscode. Not comparable to Saudi Arabia at all. Of course it is not advisable to run around in a bikini on the public streets or wear hotpants in a shopping mall. But then again, this is not appropriate in europe too.....