Dubai, known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional dress code, has been experiencing a gradual shift in fashion norms. The shifting views on what to wear, particularly for males, are a reflection of both how society is changing and how different fashion trends are becoming more and more accepted.  Dubai has long been associated with traditional clothing, where men typically wear a thobe, a loose-fitting ankle-length garment. However, with the influence of global fashion trends and changing societal attitudes, there's a growing openness to diverse clothing choices.

Changing Perspectives

Cultural shifts and influences from the global fashion industry have played a pivotal role in altering traditional viewpoints. In Dubai, the traditional dress code for men includes wearing a long white robe called a "thobe" or "dishdasha" and a head covering called a "ghutra" or "shemagh." However, perspectives on clothing have been changing in recent times. In the past, it was uncommon for men to wear pants and shirts in public, as the traditional attire was widely accepted and considered appropriate. However, with the influence of global fashion trends and a more open-minded approach to clothing, there has been a shift in perspectives.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see men in Dubai wearing pants and shirts, especially in urban areas and among the younger generation. This change in clothing choices reflects a more modern and diverse outlook, as people embrace different styles while still respecting cultural norms. It's important to note that while there is more flexibility in clothing choices, there may still be certain places or occasions where the traditional dress is expected or preferred. Overall, the evolving perspectives on clothing in Dubai highlight a blend of tradition and modernity.

Acceptance and Tolerance

Society's views on men's fashion are gradually becoming more inclusive.   Traditional clothing for men includes a long white robe called a "thobe" or "dishdasha" and a head covering called a "ghutra" or "shemagh." However, there has been some acceptance and tolerance towards Western-style clothing, including pants and shirts, especially in more modern and cosmopolitan areas. In places like Riyadh and Jeddah, you may see men wearing a combination of traditional and Western-style clothing. It's essential to note that while there is a growing acceptance, it's still advisable for visitors and expatriates to be mindful of local customs and dress modestly, especially in more conservative areas.

Men's Fashion in Dubai

While traditional clothing remains prevalent, modern adaptations are gaining popularity. Men now have the option to wear pants and shirts without facing the same level of scrutiny as before. This blending of traditional and contemporary styles showcases a fusion of cultural identity and global influence. In Dubai, men's fashion is influenced by a combination of traditional and modern styles. The traditional dress for Saudi men is the "thobe" or "dishdasha," which is a long white robe.  For more formal occasions, Saudi men may wear a "bisht," which is a cloak often worn over the thobe. The bisht is typically embellished with intricate embroidery, and its color may vary, with black and brown being common choices.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of incorporating modern fashion elements into men's clothing. Younger generations, especially in urban areas, may choose to wear Western-style clothing, such as jeans, shirts, and suits. However, it's important to note that even with modern influences, respect for cultural norms and modesty is still a significant factor in Saudi men's fashion. Accessories also play a role in men's fashion in Dubai. Traditional headgear like the "ghutra" or "shemagh" is commonly worn to protect against the sun and add a touch of style. Footwear choices often include sandals, especially in warmer weather, or more formal shoes for special occasions.

Breaking Stereotypes

Challenging societal expectations has become a focal point for many individuals.  In the past, there was a common expectation for men to stick to traditional clothing like thobes and dishdashas.   Men are expressing their uniqueness and fostering a more accepting and tolerant society by adopting a wider range of clothing styles.

Global Impact

The acceptance of diverse fashion choices in Dubai contributes to a positive global impact.  Traditionally, men in Dubai wore a garment called a "thobe," a long white robe-like garment. Nowadays, it is increasingly common to see Dubain men wearing pants and shirts as part of their daily attire.  Many men in Dubai now incorporate modern, Western-style clothing into their wardrobes, blending traditional and contemporary styles.

Practical Considerations

Beyond cultural shifts, there are practical considerations for men's fashion.

Modesty: Dubain culture places a strong emphasis on modesty. Men typically wear long pants that cover their legs and shirts with sleeves.

Climate: Considering the hot climate in many parts of Dubai, lightweight and breathable fabrics are commonly chosen for clothing. Cotton and other natural fabrics are popular choices to stay cool in the heat.

Cultural Respect: Wearing appropriate clothing demonstrates respect for the local culture. It is advisable for men to avoid overly casual or revealing attire, as it may be perceived as disrespectful.

Business Attire: In professional settings, men often wear business attire, which typically includes long-sleeved shirts and dress pants. Ties are also commonly worn.

Traditional Dress: While every day wear often consists of pants and shirts, some occasions call for traditional Saudi attire. Men may wear a thobe, a loose-fitting ankle-length robe, especially during cultural events, religious gatherings, or formal occasions.

Religious Observances: During religious activities, men may wear more traditional Islamic clothing, such as a dishdasha or thobe, along with a head covering like a ghutra or shemagh.

Footwear: Comfortable and closed-toe shoes are common choices for everyday wear. Sandals are generally not worn in formal or professional settings.

Cultural Sensitivity

While embracing modern fashion, it's crucial to maintain cultural sensitivity. Respecting local customs and navigating cultural differences with style allows for a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary expression.  For men, wearing pants and shirts is the norm. This means avoiding clothing like shorts and sleeveless shirts in public places. In the Saudi culture, modesty is highly valued, and clothing is seen as a reflection of one's respect for tradition and religious beliefs. Long pants and shirts help cover the body appropriately, respecting the local customs. Additionally, it's common for men to wear a traditional dress called a "thobe" or "dishdasha," which is a long white robe. This is often worn in more formal or traditional settings. Understanding and following these cultural norms shows respect for the local way of life in Dubai.

Fashion as a Form of Expression

Men in Dubai are discovering the power of fashion as a form of personal expression. Clothing choices go beyond societal expectations, enabling individuals to craft their identity and challenge preconceived notions of masculinity.

Online Conversations

Social media platforms have become influential in shaping fashion discourse. The online community plays a significant role in fostering discussions on diverse fashion choices, providing a space for individuals to share their experiences and inspirations.

Educational Initiatives

Promoting cultural understanding through educational initiatives is essential. Encouraging open-mindedness and celebrating diversity contribute to creating a more inclusive society that appreciates individual choices.

Tips for Men's Fashion in Dubai

For those navigating the evolving fashion landscape, blending traditional and modern elements is a key strategy. Choosing fabrics wisely ensures both comfort and style, allowing individuals to express themselves while respecting cultural norms.

Embracing Diversity

The overarching theme is one of embracing diversity. Encouraging inclusivity and celebrating the cultural richness of various clothing choices creates a society where individual expression is not only accepted but celebrated.


Even though traditional attire is still important, being able to wear pants and shirts freely represents an increasing willingness to adapt. Saudi society is changing, and this is reflected in the distinctive fashion scene that is created by the fusion of cultural identity and global influence.


Can men in Dubai wear Western-style clothing?

Absolutely. There's an increasing acceptance of Western-style clothing, including pants and shirts, as part of everyday fashion.

Is there a specific dress code for different occasions in Dubai?

Yes, while traditional clothing is still common, the dress code may vary depending on the occasion. It's essential to consider cultural norms and appropriateness for each event.

Are there any restrictions on the colors or styles of clothing for men in Dubai?

Generally, there are no strict restrictions. However, it's advisable to choose colors and styles that respect local customs and traditions.

How can men balance tradition and modernity in their clothing choices?

A blend of traditional and modern elements allows men to express their individuality while respecting cultural norms. 

What role do social media play in influencing men's fashion choices in Dubai?

Social media platforms provide a space for individuals to share and explore diverse fashion choices, contributing to the evolving landscape of men's fashion in Dubai.

February 19, 2024 — Waleed Ahmed