Many tourists who come to Abu Dhabi have used to ask if there are any kind of “restrictions” or “rules” they have to follow or stuck to during their visit to Abu Dhabi and The UAE generally?!
I have noticed the repeating of this question across travel forums and online platforms many times and I found it could be useful to answer such a question in detail from an Abu Dhabi inhabitant for +6 years now.
The Emirati Society
First of all, you need to know that the Emeriti society is composed of different cultures and ideologies according to the area or the state. Based on this; What is acceptable in Dubai and Abu Dhabi may not be acceptable in different areas like Sharjah and Fujairah.
However; Generally the Emeriti society is cosmopolitan because of the variety of its inhabitants due to the fine business environment which made the county an attracting destination to people from all around the world.
As a result; there is a kind of understanding of western values and liberty in dressing and apparel, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This understanding maybe not be the same in other emirates like Fujairah and Sharjah which are tending to be more conservative than any other.
However; before and after; it is still an Islamic Arabic society which means that some actions cannot be accepted or welcomed even in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
An example: Public kissing and emotionally acting publically.
What to Wear in Public Places?!
As we agreed; Abu Dhabi and Dubai are rather different than the other five emirates. Actually, +75% of UAE visitors go only to both cities with no need to go beyond.
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi; You may feel more comfortable wearing what you wear daily in your home country.
A woman will not be required to cover her hair or to appear in a long dress. Meanwhile; revealing clothing cannot be accepted in public places.
While for men; everything should work well as long it covers from the waist to the knees.
Generally; moderate apparel is your best way to dress in the Emirates.
Visiting Religious Places: The Dress Code
Visiting the mosque and religious places is different for sure. You will not be allowed to enter the inside of a mosque if you are not following the special dress code of the mosque. It relates to showing respect for the place.
Women are advised to wear a long dress which covers from hair to feet. Covering the arms also is required.
While men should dress a propel clothing avoiding shorts, tank top,s or sleeveless shirts. They also should cover any tattooed areas in their body because it is against Muslim society values and beliefs.
The good news that at the big mosques in the Emirates just as The Grand Mosque of Zayed; There are near costume vendors who sell proper clothing to the mosque such as Abaya and Qufttan.
Check out the dress code of Sheikh Zayed Mosque from the official website.