You will need a suitable dress for Old Dubai. When visiting Dubai you need to be culturally sensitive. That especially means you should dress for Old Dubai appropriately.
When it comes to finding a suitable dress for Old Dubai it can seem like a minefield! On a recent trip there I took loads of clothes and asked for lots of advise. Often the advice given sounded pretty strict and I’ll cover that below, but in my actual experience and the experience of other more regular Dubai travellers it’s a little more relaxed in practice.
I wanted to discover the delights sightseeing Old Dubai the stylish way and I didn’t want to be covered head to toe. I wanted to keep my identity as a Western women yet be respectful at the same time.
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You will hear that you shouldn’t this and that – but in general most outfits are tolerated as long as they are not too daring. Dubai is made up of 90% foreigners so it is quite liberal compared to other Emirate states. On our trip to Old Dubai we saw it all. Women were wearing straps, shorts and body clinging dresses.
However, in historic areas of Dubai, where there are a higher local population it is more appropriate to dress according to their codes.
Shoulders should be covered and showing bra straps is considered highly offensive and is prohibited.
As a Western women you aren’t expected to cover your head, unless you are in cultural areas i.e. Mosques and, I was told by our hotel concierge, Museums.
The next ‘danger’ zone is the cleavage. You shouldn’t show one. But you can still get away with a flattering V-neck as long as it doesn’t plunge too deep, which is highly prohibited.
This dress is the one I’m wearing and it shows just enough to be flattering but respectful. I wouldn’t go ANY deeper than this!
This dress has a rounded neck, with a slight V at the back, so if you are at all concerned it’s a safer bet. I love the pattern AND it’s on SALE!!
This dress is the same shape as my flattering dress, but is a gorgeous shade of pink.
I love it’s pockets – because the material is so good, you can hide a mobile in the pocket without a horrible bulge!
The weather can be extremely hot but it is unadvisable to wear a dress higher than your knees when in the historic and cultural areas of Dubai.
Whereas my choice has a subtle split at the front this dress covers your legs a little more! It has a very flattering tulip shape, with a back split hem.
What is confusing when deciding how to dress for Old Dubai is you will see other Western women wearing strapy or cleavage showing tops and short skirts – but personally I would be mortified if I was stopped and given a warning, a police arrest or fine. If you wear ‘offensive’ clothing in certain areas, you take that risk.
Maxi dresses with sleeves are the safest bet. But, I loved this dress and felt comfortable in it. I didn’t receive any bad looks or unwanted attention.
This dress is gorgeous and very similar to mine, except a bit longer on the sleeves. It is designed for the fuller figure with sizes 18 and up!
The restaurant we visited in Old Dubai was full of tourists and therefore the dress code was relaxed. Which meant I felt perfectly relaxed with my knees showing as I sat at the table.
It is a confusing place to be as I felt I was dressing relatively conservatively to other Western women, even around Old Dubai. However, even though we saw women entering the museum with tee-shirt and shorts on and strapy dresses, I chose not to enter without a headscarf.
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I hope this has helped you with ideas on how to dress for Old Dubai – or if you just like looking at pretty dresses! If you want to read more about the dress code in Dubai click here. My advice is based on my experience (and the experience of others), advice received directly and items read.
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