The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known for its thriving business environment and cosmopolitan culture. As a global hub for commerce and trade, the UAE places great emphasis on professional appearances and business etiquette. Understanding the appropriate business attire is essential for both locals and expatriates, whether women or men, aiming to make a positive impression and navigate the corporate landscape in the UAE.

This article will provide a comprehensive and detailed guide to business attire in the UAE, covering appropriate clothing choices for men and women, cultural considerations, and practical tips for dressing professionally.

What is a Business Attire?


Business attire refers to the clothing and accessories worn by individuals in professional or formal business settings. It is a specific dress code that reflects professionalism, respect, and adherence to the expected appearance standards in a professional environment. Business attire varies depending on the industry, company culture, and the formality of the occasion.

The UAE places great importance on professionalism and maintaining a respectful and polished appearance in business settings. Adhering to the expected dress code demonstrates cultural sensitivity, professionalism, and a commitment to local customs and business etiquette. 

Cultural and Religious Considerations


The UAE is a predominantly Muslim country, and Islamic customs and values influence the local culture. While the UAE is relatively liberal compared to some other Middle Eastern countries, it is important to respect and adhere to local customs when it comes to attire. Here are a few key considerations:

  • Modesty: Dressing modestly is highly valued in the UAE. Both men and women should aim to cover their shoulders, chest, and knees. Avoid revealing or tight-fitting clothing that may be considered inappropriate or offensive.
  • Traditional Dress: Emirati nationals often wear traditional attire. Men wear the “kandura” or “dishdasha,” which is a long white robe, while women wear the “abaya,” a loose black cloak. While not obligatory for expatriates, wearing traditional attire can be seen as a respectful gesture when attending formal events or meetings with Emiratis.

Business Attire for Men


Men in the UAE are expected to dress professionally and conservatively. Here are some guidelines for men’s business attire:

  • Formal Business Suit: In formal business settings, a well-tailored suit in dark colours such as navy blue, charcoal grey, or black is appropriate. Lightweight fabrics like wool or blends are suitable for the UAE’s warm climate.
  • Shirts: Long-sleeved shirts in light colours like white, light blue, or pastel shades are ideal. Avoid loud patterns or bright colours that may appear overly casual.
  • Ties: Ties are generally expected in formal settings, but they can be optional in more relaxed environments. Choose conservative patterns and colours.
  • Footwear: Closed-toe dress shoes in black or brown are recommended. Make sure they are well-polished and match the formality of your outfit.

In business casual environments, men can wear dress pants or chinos with a collared shirt or polo shirt. Blazers or sports jackets may be optional. 

Business Attire for Women


Women in the UAE should also dress modestly and professionally. While there is no strict dress code for non-Muslim women, it is advisable to follow these guidelines:

  • Dresses and Skirts: Knee-length or longer dresses and skirts are appropriate for business settings. Avoid low-cut or form-fitting clothing. Fabrics should be modest and not transparent.
  • Blouses and Tops: Blouses should have sleeves and provide adequate coverage for the shoulders and cleavage. Avoid sheer or revealing materials.
  • Abaya: Non-Muslim women are not required to wear an abaya, but it can be worn as a sign of respect when visiting religious sites or attending formal events.
  • Footwear: Closed-toe shoes with a moderate heel or flats are suitable. Sandals and flip-flops should be avoided in professional settings.

In non-formal settings, women can also wear dress pants, skirts, or dresses that fall within the knee-length or longer range. Blouses, tops, or sweaters can be paired with these bottoms. Blazers or cardigans may also be suitable.

Business Attire for Specific Industries


  • Banking and Finance: The banking and finance sectors in the UAE often maintain a formal dress code. Men should wear suits with ties, while women can opt for tailored suits, dresses, or skirts with blouses.
  • Hospitality and Tourism: In these industries, the dress code may be more relaxed. Men can wear dress pants with a collared shirt or a blazer, while women can choose between dresses, skirts, or dress pants with blouses or tops.
  • Creative and Media Industries: These industries may have a more casual dress code, and professionals can opt for smart casual attire. Men can wear dress pants or chinos with a collared shirt, while women can choose between dresses, skirts, or dress pants paired with stylish blouses or tops.

Dressing for Business in Different UAE Cities



Known for its cosmopolitan and international character, Dubai generally has a more relaxed and flexible dress code compared to other cities in the UAE. The business attire in Dubai allows for slightly more fashion-forward and contemporary styles, while still respecting modesty guidelines and cultural norms. 

Professionals in Dubai may have more freedom to incorporate colors, patterns, and modern cuts into their outfits, reflecting the city’s dynamic and diverse business environment. However, it’s important to exercise discretion and ensure that the overall appearance remains polished and professional.

Abu Dhabi

As the capital city of the UAE and a hub for government institutions and corporate headquarters, Abu Dhabi tends to have a more formal and conservative dress code. The emphasis is on maintaining a professional and traditional appearance. In government and corporate sectors, men are expected to wear formal business suits with ties, and women are expected to wear conservative business suits or dresses that cover the knees and shoulders. 

The dress code in Abu Dhabi reflects the city’s more formal and traditional business environment, where professionalism and adherence to cultural norms are highly valued.

Sharjah and other Northern Emirates

Sharjah and the other Northern Emirates, including Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, tend to have a more conservative dress code compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In these regions, it is advisable to lean towards more traditional and modest attire, emphasising covering the shoulders and knees and avoiding revealing clothing. 

Men are expected to wear formal business attire such as suits or dress shirts with trousers, while women are expected to wear conservative business suits, dresses, or skirts with blouses. It’s important to respect local customs and adhere to the more conservative dress code prevalent in these areas.

It’s worth noting that while these descriptions provide a general overview of the dress codes in different UAE cities, there may still be variations depending on the specific industry, workplace, and individual company policies.

Practical Tips for Dressing Professionally


Climate Considerations

Given the UAE’s hot climate, it is important to consider the weather when dressing professionally. Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics that allow for better ventilation and comfort throughout the day. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are excellent choices as they are breathable and help keep you cool. Opt for looser-fitting garments that allow air circulation and avoid heavy or restrictive materials.


Personal grooming plays a significant role in the UAE’s business culture. Pay attention to your grooming habits to maintain a polished and professional appearance. Men should ensure they are clean-shaven or keep their facial hair well-groomed and neatly trimmed. Women should style their hair neatly and consider conservative hairstyles. Makeup should be kept natural and professional, avoiding excessive or dramatic looks.

Accessories and Jewellery

When it comes to accessories and jewellery, it is advisable to keep them minimal and tasteful. Avoid wearing excessive or flashy jewellery that may distract your professional image. A simple wristwatch, understated earrings, or a conservative necklace can complement your outfit without distraction. Remember, the focus should be on your professionalism and not on flashy accessories.

Business Casual

In some work environments, business casual attire may be acceptable. However, it is always better to start with a more formal dress code until you understand the specific expectations of your workplace. If business casual is permitted, it typically means a relaxed version of professional attire. 

Men can opt for dress pants or chinos paired with a collared shirt or polo shirt, while women can choose from dress pants, skirts, or dresses paired with blouses or tops. However, it is important to exercise judgment and maintain a polished and put-together appearance, even in business casual settings.

Casual or Athletic Wear

Avoid wearing clothing that is too casual or associated with leisure activities. This includes items such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, shorts, athletic shoes, and sneakers. These items are typically too informal for a professional environment. Also, avoid clothing that is overly revealing, tight, or ill-fitting. This includes low-cut tops, crop tops, excessively short skirts or dresses, and excessively tight or baggy clothing. Opt for clothing that fits properly and provides a polished and modest appearance.

Loud or Distracting Patterns

While patterns can add personality to an outfit, it’s important to choose them carefully in a professional setting. Avoid wearing clothing with loud, bold, or distracting patterns that may divert attention away from your professionalism. Opt for more subtle and classic patterns instead.

Strong Fragrances

While not directly related to clothing, it’s worth mentioning that wearing strong or overpowering fragrances can be inappropriate in professional settings. Opt for subtle and understated scents or avoid wearing fragrance altogether to ensure you don’t cause discomfort to others.


Dressing professionally in the UAE is a crucial aspect of business etiquette and cultural respect. Understanding the expectations and guidelines for business attire in different cities, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the Northern Emirates, can help individuals make a positive impression and navigate the local business environment with confidence.

The UAE’s diverse and cosmopolitan nature allows for some flexibility in dress codes, particularly in Dubai. However, it is important to strike a balance between modern fashion trends and cultural sensitivity. Embracing modesty, adhering to conservative dressing norms, and showcasing professionalism are key elements to consider when selecting business attire in the UAE.

About Author

Hanna Rico

About Author

Hanna Mae Rico is a skilled content writer. With a bachelor's degree in English Language Studies, Hanna has spent over three years working in the digital marketing industry. Her versatility shines through her ability to captivate audiences with lifestyle, travel, and other engaging topics. Her love of written words and her innate ability to transport readers to different places make her a true wordsmith.