“So – how is it with Dubai – do you have to carry a head scarf and that long, black dress all the time or what?”
This is a very typical preliminary question that I get, whenever someone hears that I live in Dubai with my family.
And with that one introductory question, I can easily tell that this person has never set foot in the United Arab Emirates.
The black head scarf – or veil – and the elegant black abaya are indeed the national dress for women. Emirati women, that is. Not for any other woman, who isn’t a Muslim or a local. And I’m pretty sure, we would all fall flat, if we even tried to mimic or copy the beautiful Emirati women. It really isn’t easy to pull off a head scarf and an abaya in a sophisticated fashion when out and about!
Here in the United Arab Emirates there is only one, single place, where women – regardless of nationality or religion – must wear a head scarf. And that’s to enter a mosque. So, if you are planning to visit the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which I really do recommend, then go ahead and pop a large scarf into your suitcase to cover your hair and preserve modesty during the visit.
The long, black dress – the abaya – is never worn by foreigners, although there are certain public places, where you have to dress in a respectful manner, sporting only loose items of clothing that cover your entire legs, including the ankles and your arms, including the wrists. This is when and if you have to visit a ministry, state department, police station, civil office, judicial court or a registrar. Chances are that you will never get into contact with any of these places, whilst on holiday here.
With all of the above being said – you can relax and wear exactly the holiday outfits that you prefer. You will only need a scarf to keep those shoulders down and comfortable in the air-conditioned malls and perhaps a cardigan to keep warm in the evening, if you prefer to dine outdoors.
Tourists can basically wear whatever they like – because they are guests – and we like to keep our guests happy. As long as you refrain from nudity in public and you don’t sport a bikini or swim suit away from the beach or pool area, you will be just fine. Shorts, mini-skirts and sleeveless tops are all very welcome.
Other rules apply for us, who live here long-term. But I’ll tell you more about that some other time. For now, rest assured that you can bring your best dresses, skirts and tops here and show off your gorgeous tan.
Greetings from the sun,