About how to dress in Abu Dhabi, one of the most beautiful images I keep in my mind is that the first time I found myself crossing Hamdan Street, on rush hour, along with many other people.
I looked around and I haven’t seen two people dressed the same way: white dishdasha, which in UAE is called kandura, dishdasha “sand” color, abbaya and simple flip flops, abbaya with decorations and high heels, abbaya and sneakers (so cool!).
But also: office suits, Indian and Pakistani salwar-kamees of all colors, jeans and t-shirts, dresses of every style, I could say from all around the world.
At that moment, I had the feeling of crossing the road with the world.
A pleasant feeling that, personally, makes me feel at home.
Abu Dhabi Dress Code
Abu Dhabi Emirate is said to be conservative but tolerant. Only when visiting Grand Mosque, which is accessible to all visitors, women are required to wear, as a sign of respect, an abbaya, which is provided, free of charge, at the entrance.
But, generally speaking, there are no special obligations: it is only required a little of sensitivity (and buon gusto) in public places.
For example: on the beach, men are encouraged to wear shorts like “bermuda”, while women can wear a bikini. Needless to say, thong and topless are out and not allowed.
In public places, such as malls, you are invited to wear clothing that covers from the shoulders to the knees including. So: no skirts, no shorts, no transparent clothes. But this request sometimes is ignored. Two UAE girls launched a campaign on Twitter, about UAEDressCode#, with the urgent call to respect the local customs, at least in public places. A call to local, expats, visitors, woman, men.
The campaign has raised a lively debate, winning praise and criticism, both passionate.
Now, let’s skip the diatribe about what are the minimum standards of good taste and respect due to a host country, which, however, should be cross-cultural. And forget for a moment that clothing is a communication code.
Consider for the moment only the primary function of clothing, the “defense”: dress appropriately in a place with the climatic characteristics of Abu Dhabi, is essential to guard against the hot rays of the sun and sudden changes in temperature between forty degrees outside and fifteen degrees indoor, because of the air-conditioning. With all that goes with it.
Smart clothing in Abu Dhabi
One of the excuses most frequently detected among the expats and visitors in minimalist clothes is that “Abu Dhabi is hot.”
And yes, I can confirm you: it is. Indeed, in the period from May to October, in Abu Dhabi, the hot is really hot and you can not understand if you do not feel the hot “consistency” by yourself.
Unfortunately, uncovering not only do not give you any relief, but you will be exposed to direct sunlight and harmful rays, dangerous for your skin. Also, consider the drying effect of hot air and the direct contact with surfaces and environments perfect for the growth of bacteria and fungi with temperatures so high.
A type of clothing would be super smart, the “technical” one, made up of special microfibre that absorb sweat and are able to better protect from ultraviolet rays, but, as we are not all “urban explorers” or gardeners, we can use cotton and linen which do very well their work.
In particular, in the hot season would be wise a clothing with these characteristics:
- light, but not inconsistent
- natural fiber
- wide, to promote circulation blood and breathability
This type of clothing is also smart because it protects from the shock of cold air conditioning, when you switch from outside to inside or when you take a taxi.
Indeed, if the outside temperature is very high, better to have on hand what I like to call the “shell”, a pashmina or a lightweight sweater.