Before going to Dubai (on a FlyDubai FAM) I searched the net to know more about the dress code for women in Dubai. What I found suggested that it is better to dress on the conservative side. I also gathered that malls were the places where you could dress more liberally. Now, I am back from my trip and the following are my observations.
The Stated Courtesy Policy in Dubai
Most malls in Dubai display a courtesy policy for the public. You can see they advice covering knees and the shoulders which is very similar to the Buddhist temple policies. So a short sleeve T shirt and anything below the knee is fine!
What Women Actually Wear!
However, I love clicking what I see women wearing at a destination. A lot for them simply ignore the courtesy policy. Anyway all through the world official rules and there interpretations differ!
In December the weather was pleasant in Dubai, the days were warm and nights slightly chilly. This girl who was out for a jog on a bright sunny day was doing so in a shorts and t-shirt in the Jumeirah area. I don’t think she attracted any extra attention.
On the same Jumeirah Promenade I saw this photo session in progress. My guess is that the tourists asked the local to click a picture. And you can see the tourists are dressed like they dress anywhere on a holiday!
For sure a lot of women (and men, see the picture above) dress conservatively according to their culture and norms. But you can see that even the official policy doesn’t expects the visitors to follow the same norms.
I spotted the girls at the same mall where I clicked the courtesy policy. You can see clearly that the stated policy and the tolerated policy are starkly different.
Even when it comes to conservative dressing the norms seem to be different, some just cover their hair and not the face while some would cover everything but the eyes!
Dubai is a city of malls and like I said before, people dress nicely when they go out.
Dubai Mall has a similar stated policy as the Mall of Emirates (where I clicked the picture of the policy) and yet people interpret it in their own ways. I spotted the mom and the daughter admiring the at the aquarium at the Dubai Mall.
I briefly visited the Jumeirah Public Beach in the morning. The beach was not too crowded and I saw no one in a bikini. But I was told that it would get crowded in the afternoons and evenings and it was fine to wear a bikini on the beach.
As you can see in the pictures there is a difference in the stated courtesy policy and what people follow. I personally wore something that covered my shoulders and knees most of the time. However, I wore a sleeveless top the day I went to the top of the Burj Khalifa.
I leave it to you in the end to decide what you wish to wear in Dubai. I feel it is useful to know the stated courtesy policy but it is by no means written in stone!