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It’s very easy to get your holiday wardrobe wrong when deciding what to wear the United Arab Emirates. This part of the world certainly has plenty of sandy beaches and a toasty climate but, unlike other hot destinations, you can’t just simply pack a bikini and some sun cream.  You need to put in a little more thought into what to wear in a place like Abu Dhabi.
But don’t be put off – the UAE isn’t as uptight on clothing as you might’ve heard. So you can still opt for a stylish and effective wardrobe, without feeling your style has been stifled. It’s all about striking a balance between fashionable and respectful. Confused? We’re here to help with out tips on what to wear on holiday in Abu Dhabi.

What to wear in Abu Dhabi

What to wear: the dos and don'ts

When you’re exploring the streets of Abu Dhabi, it’s easy to keep cool and look good. But there are a couple of golden rules to stick to. Your shoulders must be covered at all times – so no strappy tops – and low V-necks for both men and women are frowned upon. It’s best to be careful with slogan t-shirts too, as you never know who you could offend. Ladies, there's no need to cover your head in Abu Dhabi, but it's best to carry a pashmina in your bag if you're planning to visit any religious sites.

Women can wear skirts, but they should be knee length or longer. In some areas, shorts are acceptable for men, but it's best to play it safe with trousers.

Women will be glad to know that dresses are perfectly acceptable, so that sophisticated evening look can easily be achieved. But you should still respect the local culture. Bodycon or tight-fitting dresses will raise eyebrows. And gents – take note that sportswear is only considered acceptable on the pitch.

For any men who might be considering a stag do in Abu Dhabi, there’s one other consideration. Fun as it might be, don’t dress up as a woman – it could land you behind bars.

What to wear on the beach

On the soft-sand beaches of Abu Dhabi, clothing is a completely different ball game. The rules relax, as visitors and locals alike enjoy the sunshine.

Women can wear swimwear, including bikinis. Just make sure you cover up when you leave the sands – it’s best to stick a kaftan in your beach bag, then you don’t have to worry. Topless sunbathing is highly frowned upon and best avoided. And fellas, leave your mankinis at home.

What to wear sightseeing

Days out are always the perfect time to whip out something special for your holiday. Whether it's those expensive shoes you've been dying to wear, or a classic you can only sport abroad, trips often provide the perfect opportunity to get dressed up a little.

By you do need to adhere to a certain code of dress in Abu Dhabi. Although it’s not as strict here as some countries in the Middle East, there are still specific items you can and can't wear. But, as long as you do your research and respect local customs, you can still visit Abu Dhabi’s famous landmarks.

For example, the Emirates Palace is a place where respectable dress must be worn at all times. For all the men out there, make sure you don't wear shorts – no matter how long they are, you’ll get turned away.

Respectable dress of the highest form is a must at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, as it is with any religious building. These are the only places that women will be required to cover their hair before entering. If you’ve forgotten to bring something, don’t worry, as scarves are provided at the Grand Mosque, to help you cover up.

When holidaying in Abu Dhabi, just remember the rules aren't as bad as you may think. You can look amazing and respectful at the same time. Just pack carefully, take a variety of options, and make sure you know the rules wherever you're heading.

Ready for your Middle Eastern adventure? Take a look at our cheap flights to Abu Dhabi.

For more travel tips, why find out how to spend 48 hours in Abu Dhabi, or read up on how to avoid jet lag?

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