Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations, and understandably so, because there's so much to see and do in the heart of the United Arab Emirates. The city is known for its luxurious lifestyle, towering skyscrapers, and vibrant cultural scene.

Of course, the thought of how to dress while there may have crossed your mind. One of the questions many people ask is, can you wear shorts in Dubai? Yes, you can, but it is not as simple as that.

In this article, we will delve into the social norms, climate considerations, and practical guidelines to help you decide if shorts are suitable attire for your visit to Dubai.


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Understanding cultural sensibilities

shorts in Dubai

Dubai is a metropolitan area meaning that individuals from various countries inhabit it. That said, the underlying Islamic culture significantly shapes societal expectations, including dress codes.

You want to keep in mind that modesty is highly valued in Emirati society. In that regard, locals and visitors must adhere to modest dressing standards.

This often means covering the shoulders, chest, and knees for women. As you can therefore imagine, clothing such as short shorts, mini-skirts, or crop tops may be frowned upon, especially in public places. That doesn't mean that your outfits have to be boring, though. Many style tips can help you look fashionable but in a modest way.

As a woman, if you want to wear shorts, go for longer ones or Capri pants, as they offer a more suitable choice that respects cultural sensitivities while still offering comfort.

As for the men, modesty is also encouraged. Sure, shorts are generally more acceptable for men, but avoiding extremely short or tight-fitting ones is advisable. Instead, opt for knee-length shorts or longer as they are considered more appropriate, especially in formal or religious settings.

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Climate and comfort

Climate and comfort

Dubai's is hot, no doubt about it. Of course, you should consider this when packing what to wear while there. It would be best if you had comfortable, lightweight, and breathable clothes. The problem will only arise when you wear something that is considered inappropriate.

If you are wearing shorts in the country, opt for pairs that are longer in length, as they will offer more coverage. For instance, Bermuda shorts are acceptable in most settings and unlikely to offend local customs.

You also want to consider the fabric of your shorts. Is it breathable and lightweight? Go for options like organic cotton or bamboo, which have moisture-wicking capabilities. Simply put, they allow fast evaporation of sweat, leaving you feeling cool and comfortable.

You may also want to carry functional accessories like scarves, as they will come in handy when you need to be in modest mode.


Dressing for different settings


Dubai is a diverse city with different settings as far as dressing is concerned. Understanding the dos and don'ts for each is crucial. Here's what you are looking at.


Public places

Public places

If you will be visiting public places such as restaurants and malls, a more casual and relaxed dress code is accepted. That means that you can be more daring in your dressing. However, that doesn't mean you should go overboard, as Dubai is predominantly an Islamic area where dressing modestly is encouraged.

Therefore, Your shorts should not be too short and should be paired with modest tops.


Religious sites

Religious sites

As an Islamic city, Dubai is home to several beautiful mosques and religious sites. If you find yourself in such places, you would be better off dressing respectfully and modestly. Whether you are male or female, your clothing should cover your knees, chest, and shoulders.

While at it, you also want to ensure that your clothing is not too tight. Women are encouraged to carry a scarf or a shawl to cover their hair as a sign of respect.



no shorts in ramadan dubai

In Islam, they have a holy month known as Ramadan. With that in mind, you want to be particularly careful about what you wear during that time, even if you are not Muslim.

While in public places, you want to be in loose-fitting clothes that provide enough coverage. This ensures that things like indecent dressing do not derail those who are observing the holy month.


Beachwear and resorts

Dubai beach wear

Dubai boasts luxurious resorts and stunning beaches. In such areas, a more relaxed dress code is acceptable. This is where you can showcase anything from your short shorts to bikinis. Nevertheless, even though there are no clothing restrictions, extremely revealing clothing, such as thong-style swimwear, may be frowned upon.

You may therefore want to observe your surroundings to see what others are wearing. That will give you an idea of what is deemed appropriate.


Business and formal settings

No shorts formal wear dubai

Aside from being a tourist attraction, Dubai is also a major business and financial hub. That means there is an emphasis on professionalism and formal attire in such settings.

Consequently, if you are there to attend business meetings and the like, you want to be more conservative and formal in your dressing.

As you can imagine, shorts will not be appropriate. Instead, men should opt for suits or conventional business attire, while women should go for the tailored look. This also goes for shoes.


Practical tips and alternatives


If you realize that you cannot wear shorts in some areas and settings, fret not. There are many alternative outfit ideas that will work out just fine.

For instance, loose-fitting trousers or maxi dresses and skirts in lightweight, breathable materials will keep you cool and comfortable, just like shorts would.

Another thing to consider is travel safety. If you have to wear shorts, pair them with knee-length socks or leggings to ensure you do not freeze while in transit in case temperatures drop.


Bottom line


Dubai is a cosmopolitan city that welcomes tourists from around the world. However, that doesn't mean that you should trample upon their customs and cultural sensitivities. When it comes to wearing shorts in Dubai, it is best to be self-aware and exercise discretion.

While shorts may be acceptable in specific casual settings such as resorts and beaches, choosing longer, modest shorts that do not offend the locals is advisable.

While there are no written rules, when visiting religious sites or during the holy month of Ramadan, you certainly want to dress modestly and respectfully. By considering Dubai's cultural norms, climate, and different settings, you can strike the right balance between comfort, style, and cultural sensitivity.

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About the Author: Dinushka Breaker Gunasekara

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