Can you wear short skirts in Dubai?

Dubai is known for being a modern and cosmopolitan city, yet it still adheres to traditional Islamic values when it comes to dress codes for both men and women. So, can you wear short skirts in Dubai? The quick answer is yes, you can wear short skirts in Dubai, but there are some caveats to keep in mind.

Dubai Dress Code Laws

There are no specific written laws that prohibit wearing short skirts or dresses in Dubai. However, the general guidance is to dress modestly when in public. Short skirts, low-cut tops, tight clothing or revealing outfits are typically considered inappropriate. As a general rule, skirts or dresses should be knee-length or longer when in public areas.

That being said, Dubai is home to people from all over the world, so it is common to see people wearing a variety of styles of dress. However, visitors and expats are advised to dress conservatively and avoid showing too much skin in order to be respectful of local culture and customs.

Places Where Short Skirts Are Acceptable

While revealing clothing is not appropriate for walking around Dubai, there are some places where short skirts or dresses would be perfectly acceptable to wear, such as:

  • Nightclubs and bars – many clubs have dress codes, but short dresses are common.
  • Beaches – bikinis and swimsuits are acceptable at hotel beaches, pools and waterparks.
  • Private parties and events – especially those frequented by expats and tourists.
  • Private residences – what you wear inside your home or hotel is up to you.

So if you’re headed out to a night on the town or a day at a resort, a short skirt or dress would likely be fine. But opt for longer lengths when sightseeing, shopping, taking public transportation, etc.

Tips for Dressing Appropriately

If you want to wear skirts or dresses during your visit to Dubai, here are some tips on choosing appropriate lengths and styles:

  • Hit just above or below the knee – Midi skirts (calf or ankle length) are also very popular.
  • Pair shorter lengths with leggings or tights for more coverage.
  • Avoid anything too tight or clinging to curves.
  • Slits should not extend too high up the thigh.
  • Avoid transparent, sheer or see-through fabric.
  • Bring a scarf or shawl to cover bare shoulders or cleavage as needed.
  • Check the dress code before entering mosques, government buildings, etc. Full length skirts or pants advised.

Dressing conservatively applies to men as well. Men should avoid short shorts and sleeveless tops/tank tops when in public areas.

Consequences of Inappropriate Attire

While Dubai generally takes a live and let live approach when it comes to tourist behavior, visitors should be aware of potential consequences of wearing revealing clothing in public areas:

  • Verbal warnings – You may be asked to cover up or avoid certain areas.
  • Fines – Repeated warnings could result in fines of several hundred dollars.
  • Deportation – Extreme or repeated offenses can lead to deportation.
  • Harassment – Wearing very revealing clothing increases risk of unwanted attention, harassment and even assault.

So use your best judgment – standards for appropriate attire are a bit more conservative than what you may be used to back home. While Dubai is very much a modern metropolis, it is important to respect local cultural norms.

General Guidelines for Women’s Attire

To summarize dress code guidelines for women:

  • Skirts & dresses: Near or below knee length are safest. At or above the knee is usually ok in tourist areas and venues but may get stray looks. Mini skirts and anything very short or tight is inappropriate.
  • Tops: Avoid low cut, sheer, tank tops, halter tops. Sleeveless is OK but cover shoulders in conservative areas.
  • Pants: Loose fitting is best. Avoid very tight jeans or pants.
  • Swimwear: Fine on beaches and hotel pools. Cover up with wraps, kaftans when not swimming.
  • Undergarments should not be visible.
  • Clothing should not be see through or expose too much bare skin.

General Guidelines for Men’s Attire

Dress codes for men in Dubai are also relatively conservative:

  • Shorts should cover to just above the knee.
  • Shirts should have short or long sleeves – sleeveless tanks are not permitted.
  • Speedos and very tight swim trunks should only be worn at hotel beaches and pools, not in public.
  • Clothing should not be ripped, torn or excessively tight.
  • Shirts are required – no bare chests.

What to Wear for Women Tourists in Dubai

Finding places to wear short skirts or dresses is easier for tourists staying in hotels. Here are some tips on putting together vacation outfits that are both fashionable but culturally appropriate in Dubai:

Sightseeing Outfits

When exploring Dubai’s attractions and historical sites, opt for conservative outfits:

  • Lightweight maxi dresses or midi skirts combined with tops that cover your shoulders.
  • Loose fitting pants with casual blouses or flowy tunics.
  • Capri leggings with a tunic top or knee length dress over them.
  • If wearing shorts, Bermuda or walking length are safest. Pair with a loose top.
  • Bring scarves or pashminas to cover bare skin when needed.

Shopping Outfits

Dubai has amazing shopping malls you’ll want to explore. Malls are areas where you can get away with slightly shorter hemlines if you prefer:

  • Skater style dresses or tunics that hit above the knee.
  • Flowy midi skirts with crop tops – high waist is most conservative.
  • Shorts to mid-thigh are often ok in malls but carry a shawl.
  • Distressed or ripped jeans with a longer top.
  • Leggings with a tunic or casual dress over them.

Beach and Pool Attire

At beach clubs, hotel pools and water parks, regular beachwear is fine:

  • Bikinis, tankinis, swimsuits – bottoms should be full coverage, not thongs.
  • Beach cover ups like kaftans, sarongs or beach dresses.
  • Swim shorts with swim shirt for modesty when not in the water.

Just be sure to cover up with a wrap, dress or pants when going to and from beach areas through public spaces.

Evening Attire

To experience Dubai’s famous nightlife, short skirts, dresses and heels are fine at clubs, bars and parties:

  • Cocktail dresses, mini dresses.
  • Bodycon skirts with dressy tops.
  • Short jumpsuits or rompers for clubs -avoid anything too skimpy.
  • Dark-wash skinny jeans with heels.
  • Avoid strapless, transparent and extreme cut-outs.

When in doubt, call ahead to venues to check for any specific dress code requirements.

What to Wear for Expat Women Living in Dubai

For expat women living and working in Dubai, dressing more conservatively for day to day life is advised. Here are some go-to outfits for women living in Dubai:

Work Outfits

Office dress code can vary based on your industry, but in general avoid anything too tight, sheer or revealing by Dubai standards:

  • Pencil skirts – go for midi or calf length.
  • Slacks – avoid super skinny fit.
  • Long sleeve blouses and tunics – not sleeveless.
  • Dresses/tunics over pants, leggings or skinny jeans.
  • Cardigans and blazers for layers to cover up.
  • Conservative makeup and hair styles.

Casual Daywear

Keeping covered up in lightweight fabrics and layers is the way to go for running daily errands:

  • Loose fitting jeans, linen pants or lightweight luxe joggers.
  • Tops – avoid anything too tight or sheer when layered.
  • Tunics & dresses hitting the knee or longer.
  • Cardigans and kimonos to layer over sleeveless pieces.
  • Leggings with longer tunics or dresses over them.
  • Flats, sandals or sneakers – skip short shorts.

Gym & Activewear

When hitting a yoga class or the gym, make sure your workout outfits still adhere to modesty standards:

  • Leggings with long shirt or knee length sporty dress over top.
  • Yoga pants – avoid those sheer or too tight/clingy.
  • Tanks & tees – cover cleavage, belly and shoulders.
  • Headscarf if preferred.

Night Out Attire

To look stylish for a night out with friends, adapt these tips for evening wear:

  • Dark jeans and knee high boots with blouse or silky cami.
  • Midi or maxi skirt with dressy top.
  • Rompers/jumpsuits – stay away from anything too skimpy.
  • Avoid low-cut dresses and tops, super short hems.
  • Dressy flats or block heels vs. stilettos.

Finding Modest Fashion in Dubai

If you’re looking to spruce up your vacation or everyday wardrobe during your visit or while living in Dubai, there are plenty of places to shop for stylish modest fashion choices:

  • Local Dubai designers – many create fashions tailored to modest dress codes but still chic and modern.
  • Abaya designers – shops with beautifully-made traditional Abayas but also other conservative styles.
  • International retailers – H&M, Zara, Mango and others carry selections of longer and looser fitting clothing.
  • Malls – Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, etc. have a wide variety.
  • Online – UAE and Middle East focused online shops with tons of options.

Mix and match your usual style with culturally appropriate pieces for the perfect Dubai wardrobe.

Respecting Local Customs

Dubai prides itself on welcoming visitors from all over the world. While dress codes for tourists are relatively relaxed, especially in hotels and tourist areas, keep these cultural norms and advice in mind:

  • Both men and women should aim to cover shoulders, cleavage, midriffs, knees.
  • Avoid tight, transparent, extremely short or low-cut outfits.
  • Pack pashminas, scarves, wraps to cover skin as needed.
  • Check dress codes before visiting mosques, religious sites, etc.
  • Be prepared to cover more fully with Abaya robe if asked.
  • If in doubt, always err on the conservative side of dressing.

No matter your personal style, being respectful of local values will ensure you avoid offense or unwanted attention during your travels.


While short skirts and revealing clothing is best avoided in much of Dubai, it ultimately comes down to being aware of your surroundings and dressing respectfully. Tourists have more flexibility to show some skin at hotels, beaches, pools and nightclubs. But covering up when venturing to public places is advised. For expat women living there, dressing more modestly on a daily basis is recommended. With culturally-appropriate styles and lightweight layers, women can both stay cool in the desert heat and adhere to local customs. Do be prepared to cover up in traditional abayas at certain venues if needed. With some advance planning and culturally-sensitive fashion choices, female travelers can both look and feel their best during a visit to this modern Middle Eastern metropolis.

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