Abu Dhabi - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Typical office attire depending on your job. The dress code is generally conservative and you can be ask to leave malls and stores, but I've never actually seen it happen. - Feb 2020

Typical work dress code at the embassy, some men wear a full suit, some just a shirt and tie, depending on which section you work for. You can wear pretty much anything in public. Abu Dhabi is slightly more conservative than Dubai, but I’ve seen tourists wear everything here, too. I think, like in many countries around the world, it is more respectful to at least wear knee-length shorts and skirts and not to show too much cleavage. - Jun 2019

I would say business casual yet suites and ties are in many offices. There are some formal events requiring long dresses, not common to see cocktail dress at events. - Sep 2017

Work: business. In public: you see everything, but it is a Muslim society so no minis, tank tops, etc if you want to show respect. - Jun 2015

Abu Dhabi can be a dressy place: business suits for professional men and comparable for women, with an accent on modesty. There's lots of public griping by Emiratis about "indecent" Western dress, but it can be hard to find suitable clothes for men or women in local shops. But you will find lots of miniskirts, bikinis, and muscle clothes - it's just not clear where you're supposed wear them. Malls supposedly have dress codes that include "no bare shoulders" and "no short shorts", but they don't consistenly enforce them. - May 2013

I worked in Emirati settings so sleeves past the elbow and skirts nearer the ankle than the knee. Trousers are fine provided that they are not tight and worn with a top that covers your bottom. Male colleagues were expected to wear trousers and shirt/tie to work. Paradoxically while western women sometimes chose to wear an abaya at work and in public (because they could wear shorts and tee shirts underneath if they chose), it is very bad form for western men to wear the dishdasha. - Jul 2012

Fairly formal at work, and conservative everywhere. This is not the place for short-shorts (for either gender), revealing tops, etc. That said, lots of people dress in loud colors, lots of glitz, etc. - Aug 2011

Business / professional. Women need to keep skirts and dresses at the knee or lower. No tank tops. - Jul 2011

Business casual. It is a conservative country, but non-locals tend to ignore that. As a woman, I've found that slacks are always a good option as are knee length skirts (or longer if you prefer).Bare arms for women are not a good idea, but nobody will say anything. The more skin you show, the more unsolicited stares you will receive, especially from the low skilled workers; do it at your own risk. - Nov 2010

Again you are in a muslim country so dressing conservatively is recommended. - Jan 2010

For ladies: covered shoulders and knees-reasonable dress. No shorts or tank tops. Business attire is always appropriate. - Aug 2009

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