I guess I could write a book about how I used to see the world before living in Dubai. Some people still ask me if I need to wear an abaya in Dubai or like if I am “scared”of all the things that are going on in the Middle East. I am not sure what they mean about that. Naturally there are many things going on in this part of the world yet Dubai is the only place where I can leave my laptop and phone on the table without worrying that somebody would steal it. That said, let’s move on to the answer to this question:
To Cover or Not To Cover in Dubai?
I think that this is a super personal decision to take. There are many factors that play in the answer to this question as an Expat in Dubai. I am not including religion (unless you convert that’s another topic) but I am focusing more on the perspective of being a Westerner living in Dubai. Let’s start with the factors that dictate if whether I should cover or not: (PS: I Love dubaimemes.com so I am including them to illustrate my point)
- The Weather: Summer is awful, period. No matter what you wear, you melt. Summer hits our lives from May all the way to October (I mean this varies but you get the idea). Thus Kimonos is the best answer to this problem. They are light to wear, some of them are super stylish (check out my instagram to see where I got my kimono from the picture above) and there are some materials that cure the sweating problem in the sandpit.
- People: If I am meeting my Emirati friends, I try to wear a kimono and cover my shoulders out of respect. Side note: I have met some friends of them that wear shorts and they don’t care thus this depends on the family, can’t generalize.
- Holidays: If its Ramadan I try not to wear skirts and switch to wide leg pants.
- Place: If I am going to the beach I wear exactly the same thing that I would wear in California. If I am going out with friends, I wear exactly the same thing that I would wear in California, no-brainer. If I am going to the Souk, then I will cover a bit and look awful because if you look cute the guys will call you names (I get Shakira every single time and like I am not blonde so I don’t get it). And yes if its winter we feel like wearing boots to work even though its like San Diego’s Summer weather.
Conclusion: In Dubai, just like any other place in the world, you dressed based on who are you meeting, when and where, right? I mean in Mexico if you wear shorts in the streets, you should expect some “mamacita!”from the dudes driving or from the workers in construction zones. In Los Angeles, you can get in trouble for wearing a color that does not apply to the gang in that neighborhood. When I lived in France, I saw girls wearing converse to go to the club. Go figure.