Abu Dhabi Beaches Dress Code: What To Wear At the Beach In The UAE

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

Introduction to Abu Dhabi & Dubai Beaches & Their Dress Code

Most commonly known for its majestic structures and attractions like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace, and Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi offers lots to explore. However, there is more to it. 

The multicultural capital city is home to numerous public and private beaches with several amenities, providing a soothing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The vast, unspoiled stretches of white sand and crystal clear water paired with a temperate climate all year round make it among the top destinations for a leisurely beach adventure.  

Whether you’re someone who wants to simply sit back and soak up the sun and observe the mesmerizing sunset views or indulge in some exhilarating water sports and other activities, there’s a beach for every type of traveler. 

However, when planning to visit a beach in Abu Dhabi, one crucial consideration to keep in mind is wearing the appropriate outfit. So, how should one dress when heading to a beach in Abu Dhabi? 

This post will cover everything you need to know about dressing the right way in Abu Dhabi or Dubai so you can have a pleasant and delightful trip. Read on to learn more!

Jumeira Beach Dubai
Jumeira Beach Dubai

Understanding Abu Dhabi Culture and Dress Code

The UAE is comparatively more liberal and modern than most other Muslim countries. While not as conservative, that does not mean it has little or no regard for its religious and cultural beliefs and values. 

As the capital of a Muslim country, dressing modestly is expected in public places to respect local culture and traditions. You will notice that the locals typically wear Emirati traditional clothing as you stroll through the city, which is the white Kandurah (or dishdashah) for men and black Abaya or Kaftan for women. You do not have to follow suit, unless you are visiting a mosque. 

Entering a mosque requires following a strict dress code. Women must cover themselves fully, including their heads, except the face. Men must wear full-length pants to cover their knees and a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt. 

However, you are generally expected to wear clothing with minimal skin exposure to align with Muslim values when going out in public. Many shopping malls also have signboards stating their dress code policies, requesting customers to wear ‘respectful’ clothing. That refers to avoiding wearing revealing or excessively tight-fitting attire. 

Women should ensure to cover their shoulders, knees, and chest, more so during the holy month of Ramadan. There is no compulsion to cover the head, which is your personal choice. 

Men should ideally opt for t-shirts and long pants; however, shorts are also perfectly fine when going out.

Harsh penalties for violating the Abu Dhabi dress code requirement is rarely enforced with foreigners but you could be arrested and charged if when asked to cover up you decline. You might even see many people wearing low-cut, sleeveless tops and short skirts. But adhering to the dressing norms is always advisable as respect for local beliefs and customs. 

Muslim women walking past a mural in Dubai
Muslim women walking past a mural in Dubai wearing traditional dress.

General Dress Code for Abu Dhabi Beaches

Wearing the appropriate clothing is crucial to respect the local traditions of Abu Dhabi. Generally speaking, clothing with too much skin exposure is taken as something indecent, while being topless for women is strictly illegal.

The recommended outfit to wear to public beaches or water parks for women is any loose-fitting item that covers their private parts and does not show off their natural curves too prominently. Full-length burkinis are the ideal beachwear as they cover all the body parts while providing sun protection

But if that is not your preferred personal style, one-piece swimsuits that cover your buttocks are also acceptable. You should avoid wearing a bikini or anything too revealing or transparent to avoid drawing unwanted attention or making others around you comfortable.

Men should opt for shorts, preferably knee length, instead of speedos. Being shirtless is not recommended but generally accepted on the beach

The Island at Lebanon in the Dubai World Islands
Swimwear for more tourist oriented places like The Island at Lebanon in the Dubai World Islands is more tolerated, however you still need to wear more conservative swimwear.



What to Wear at the Beach in other UAE Emirates

Dubai is a relatively more liberal and open-minded city than Abu Dhabi. But that is not to say that Abu Dhabi has strict dress code rules for the beach. Bikinis and trunks are common on beaches in both cities. 

But as a general rule, you should dress appropriately by avoiding specific clothing at beaches all across the UAE. Thongs, mini skirts, and short shorts might not be explicitly prohibited everywhere, but they are not recommended at all. 

It is typically suggested to wear a one-piece swimsuit or burkini when visiting a beach in the UAE for women. Bikinis are a common sight in heavy tourism areas, but not in the more regional locations.. If you plan to wear it, make sure it is not too skimpy. Men should wear trunks and preferably a t-shirt at the beach.

As mentioned earlier, the common rule among all beaches in the UAE is that topless bathing is strictly prohibited and against the law. 

Dress codes are often not strictly enforced at beaches in the UAE. However, if someone complains about your dress, security might come up to you asking to modify your dress. Make sure to comply with their orders without any arguments. 

The corniche Abu Dhabi
The corniche Abu Dhabi where both men and women only beaches are available.

Jumeirah Beach Dress Code

Jumeirah Beach does not enforce a strict dress code policy, so it is similar to other beaches in Dubai. Women can wear swimwear, including one-piece swimsuits and burkinis, while men can put on trunks. Avoid See-through tops, thong bottoms, and booty shorts, as they might offend locals.

However, as you move around and step off the beach, don't forget to change into or cover up with something modest like a shawl and sarong that covers your shoulders and bottom. 

Dress Code for Hotel Pools

Dress codes for hotel pools and private beaches are typically more lenient than public beaches, and you will come across the most skimpy attire. As there is more freedom, you are free to wear your preferred swimwear at hotel pools, including bikinis and short shorts. 

But again, it is essential to note that you must cover up when walking away from the pool area, such as through the hotel or toward a restaurant or bar.

Women Only Beaches 

The UAE has many beaches that are reserved for women only. If you plan to visit one of these, note that the dressing guidelines do not differ much from other beaches. You must dress modestly and in accordance with the socially acceptable dressing rules. 

Just because there are other females around does not give you the liberty to put on skimpy attire, Brazilian-style bottoms, or g-strings, so be sure to dress appropriately. 

Kite Beach Centre Umm Al Quwain UAE
Kite Beach Centre Umm Al Quwain UAE. Frequented by international visitors, Kite Beach is a little more lax with their swimwear rules.

Dos and Don'ts for Abu Dhabi Beach Dress Code

By keeping in mind some essential do's and don'ts in regard to Abu Dhabi beaches dress code, you can ensure a pleasant and memorable experience without any unwanted surprises.

Do's

  • Wear a two-piece swimsuit or burkini, along with a bottom that covers your buttocks.
  • Always carry something to throw over your beach attire when walking away from the beach, such as a scarf or shawl.

Don'ts 

  • Don’t bathe or walk around topless, as nudity is strictly illegal in the UAE, and it could land you in deep trouble with law enforcement. Avoid wearing swimwear anywhere other than the beach or pool area, and don't wear see-through clothes even at the beach or pool.
  • Don’t wear wet underclothing as it can make your clothing see-through and tight fitting, which violates the dress code rules.
  • Don't argue with security personnel if they instruct you to do something, like covering up. 
  • Men should avoid wearing speedos or boxer shorts and ideally wear a t-shirt or a tank top instead of going shirtless.

Respectful Beachwear Options for Women in Abu Dhabi

Keeping in mind the cultural and religious values of the Middle East, modest dressing is the way to go when out in public. But that in no way means you have to cover yourself from head to toe. In fact, the UAE is among the most liberal and tolerant Muslim countries of all. However, there is a thin line between having the freedom to choose what to wear to the beach and going off limits.

Women can choose from various options from what is considered respectable when planning a beach escapade. The most modest dressing is a burkini. But if that is not your type, long beach pants or swim leggings paired with a high-neck maxi or kaftan provide the perfect coverage for Abu Dhabi beaches. 

If you prefer something similar to what you could wear in countries like the US, a one-piece bathing suit or a tank top with minimal cleavage exposure will also work. 

NB: Please don't assume that because you are at a women only beach that its OK to flaunt more than you should. Just because you think that the women shouldn't be as covered up as they are doesn't mean they agree with that policy.

Respectful Beachwear Options for Men in Abu Dhabi

Men should avoid going shirtless at the beach. Swimming trunks and board shorts with a t-shirt or cabana-style button-up shirt is the preferred beachwear for men in Abu Dhabi.


Where to Buy Appropriate Beachwear for Abu Dhabi

You can find beachwear brands in almost all large malls in Abu Dhabi. Places like Sand Dollar Dubai, Splash, and Beyond the Beach have a large selection of appropriate beachwear for men and women.

If you want to order online, Etsy is a great place for burkinis and kaftans. I ordered one at the last minute before we went for an extended trip to the UAE a few years ago and just got it shipped to my hotel. It was so easy, it was made for me and I still have it today.

Conclusion

Generally, the rules and dress code policies are not as strict or restrictive at Abu Dhabi beaches. However, it goes without saying that respecting cultural values and norms is crucial, which includes wearing respectable clothing. 

While revealing clothes will not get you in trouble more often than not, wearing a dress with maximum coverage is ideal when going to the beach to respect local customs and be on the safe side for a fun and hassle-free experience.



Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.