What to Wear in Abu Dhabi - The Prerequisites Before Packing Your Bags

Abu Dhabi is certainly one of the main tourist attractions of the United Arab Emirates. Ranging from turquoise waters to sophisticated shopping malls, this place has the potential to offer almost everything to its visitors. Abu Dhabi is more for the expats and is not as touristy as its neighbour, Dubai. But with its growing tourism industry, the locals have grown more accepting of tourists and their mannerisms. But in order to not push it over the edge and disrespect the, we have listed out what to wear in Abu Dhabi, just to be on the safe side.

What to Wear in Abu Dhabi for Women

Outfit for tourist
Here are some points to note when you think about what to wear in Abu Dhabi if you're a woman:
  • A common myth that has been debunked is that all women should be wearing a burqa. This isn't true here in the UAE as it is more open-minded and does not interfere with the tourists and their choice of clothing as long as it isn't indecent or immodest.
  • Carry a pashmina or shawl in order to still stay within the lines when visiting attractions since some places have a lot of locals too and to protect yourself from the dust and sun, of course.
  • It should always be kept in mind that expatriates living in Abu Dhabi hold strong religious views. Hence it is advisable to wear long clothing made of cotton or linen. Apart from dressing according to their goodwill, it would also help to combat the heat.
  • But do note that revealing clothing or sheer clothing can land you in jail.
  • Women are expected to cover their shoulders and legs in public places. Thus, skirts, pants and trousers should be till knee-length or longer. Tight form-fitting clothes exposing thighs, cleavage, midriff or upper arms are a strict no-no in religious places. 
  • Since the heat is the main point of concern here when visiting during the warmer months, do carry the following: a straw hat, a scarf, loads of sunscreen, cotton clothing, there is no limit to footwear, but flip flops will cause a little sunburn. 
  • During the winter months in Abu Dhabi, it tends to get really cold and also rainy so do carry a lot of jackets and rainproof essentials. It is recommended to carry loads of moisturiser during these months as the air gets very dry.
  • Avoid wearing whites as it may get worn out and faded with the dust in the air.  

What to Wear in Abu Dhabi for Men

Male Tourist
Although for men, the restrictions are a bit lesser as long as they don't do anything drastic, these few pointers are something you should look at to stay safe and comfortable in Abu Dhabi,
  • Shorts of knee-length are considered to be modestly acceptable for men. T-shirts with.
  • Revealing shoulders or very low V-necks, which may be deemed as an attention-seeking instrument, should be avoided.
  • At beaches, sports shorts or speedos are allowed even for men exceeding 50 years of age.
  • Swimming trunks and swimming suits, however, are more acceptable. 
  • For upper wear, it is advisable to wear light clothing that also protects the skin from the harsh Arabian sun. 
  • Avoid wearing whites as it may get worn out and faded with the dust in the air. 

What to Wear to the Malls & For Shopping

Although the outside temperatures in Abu Dhabi are quite hot, the malls in the city tend to get pretty cold. So you can wear anything you want but do carry jackets if you decide to stay in the mall for longer. But do NOT dress indecently as malls attract a mixed crowd of age groups and locales, so dress modestly so as to prevent any unnecessary eyes on you. 

For Men:
Wear long robes and loose trousers when going to the malls or going shopping in Abu Dhabi. However, you can choose to wear cargos and comfortable chinos with t-shirts made of breathable fabrics like cotton. Avoid sleeveless tops like tank tops, Ganjis etc which will be frowned upon. It is also important to note that offensive and derogatory slogan t-shirts are not appreciated.

For Women:
Women obviously have a more stringent dress code, with restrictions on skin show on the shoulders, below the knee and chest. It's in the best interest to keep the midriff and cleavage-revealing tops at bay and carry comfortable airy cotton clothes. To be on the safer side, carry a shawl (or buy one from the multitude of colourful ones available all across the city) for emergency purposes. Your summer bag should have sunscreen, shades, a hat, leggings and shawl at all times to tackle any kind of emergency. 

What to Wear at Government Offices

Dressing in Abu Dhabi
There may be times when you might have to visit official places for maybe visa or other purposes. But when you visit here, make sure youre dressed modestly and cover up as much as you can. That means no shorts, sleeveless tops or blouses, skirts and low cut tops. Make sure you're dressed more formally. Government offices have a lot of nationals working there so do not try and disrespect them. 

What to Wear to the Desert

When you think of what to wear in Abu Dhabi based on your itinerary, a desert safari shall be of firstmost thing on the list. The outfit chosen for a desert safari shall rely completely on the season. During the cooler months, a warm jacket is a must to fight the cold nights. On the other hand, the summer season shall require sunglasses, flip-flops and slippers. Feel free to dress up comfortably because of the strict rules regarding dressing dissipate in the desert area.

What to Wear to Mosques

This one is a no-brainer. Mosques in Abu Dhabi are massively orthodox and dressing up conservatively should be one’s top priority. Women should especially consider covering up their shoulders, head and knees. The authorities of the mosque provide with some sort of “Abaya” before entering into the mosque. The Abaya shall ensure that the dress code of the place is maintained. At the grand mosque, they will provide a burqa on rent in order to enter the mosque. 

What to Wear to The Beaches

One can wear anything that they are comfortable in including shorts and tops unless they are too revealing. You should be fine with a one-piece bathing suit provided it's not appealing. Women can wear bikinis that do not expose too much and aren't too skimpy. 

What to Wear to The Nightclubs

Yes, Abu Dhabi DOES have nightclubs. But unlike other country's nightlife scenarios, we have to be a little cautious about what to wear in Abu Dhabi to the nightclubs. You are free to wear anything here but since the nightclubs are a bit fancier, dress more elegantly as these places attract a lot of national and global expat audience. But for men, it is recommended to wear closed shoes and full-length pants at all times. Avoid T-shirts as well. For women, do not walk into these clubs wearing flip flops, pyjamas or worse, beachwear. 

Packing Tips for Abu Dhabi

Packing Tips
The following are a list of clothes which needs to be mandatorily carried when you are off to Abu Dhabi. These things are of utmost importance and would show their importance once you are there. So apart from your regular packing list, here are the essentials:
For Men:
- Cotton t-shirts
- Cotton overshirt
- Cotton trousers

For Women
- Pashmina shawl
- Scarf
- Long sundresses

In General:
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sandals
- Sunglasses
- Swimming costume
- Sunhat

Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Avoid wearing t-shirts or dresses with offensive slogans or symbols. One should think conservatively and take into consideration the sentiments of the fellow locals.
  2. Men should avoid short shorts at all costs.
  3. Both genders should keep sports clothes confined to the sports field. Cycling shorts, too, are not allowed in public.
  4. If someone among the public comes up to you and informs that your dress is inappropriate, promise the individual to get it rectified at your earliest convenience instead of engaging into a quarrel with them.
While in a conservative nation like the UAE, it's important to think conventionally than rationally before thinking of what to wear in Abu Dhabi. So take into consideration all the dos and don’ts and enjoy the amazing lavish city to its fullest.

This post was published by Saptorshi Gupta

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