The Little Black Dress Is Not For Dubai

dubai, britney spears, burqasApart from the frigid air-conditioned buildings, there is another reason to ditch the little black dress when in Dubai.

No one loves the ugly American who criticizes smaller French portions, the evangelist who pushes their unchecked religious euphoria down everyone’s throat, or the girls who walk around half naked in Dubai. Although there exists enormous tolerance for western mores, and foreigners are not asked to observe the more conservative Islamic dress code, a little respect goes a long way.

Pink And Mini

While doing my work at a small coffee shop down at the Dubai Marina, a rotund girl pranced around in a little pink mini skirt. She broke every Islamic dress code: her clothes were tight, she revealed a pile of skin, and she was doing everything she could to attract attention.

The marina is populated mostly by expatriates, but outside the coffee shop, a conservative, young Emirati couple were enjoying an early dinner with a new baby. In fact, many local people come down to the waterfront on the weekends or in the evenings. Surely they shouldn’t have to be exposed to this blatant disrespect?

Beefy muscles:

Certain male tourists are guilty too. Eastern Europeans are renowned for boldly displaying their large bellies, and I’ve seen more than one beefy man wearing skin-tight tops to show off their popping muscles.

Such visitors are like house guests who leave dishes lying around, eat all the food, come in late and drunk and stomp around. While this might be standard operating procedure at their house, and each to his own, a modicum of self-governance is always appreciated when visiting someone else’s.

Last week a professional woman’s (admittedly small) belly and breasts kept bobbing out of her clothes. Every Emirati we came into contact with was incredibly gracious and no one asked her to put on something a little less revealing. But I was deeply embarrassed to be associated with her.

Sharing goes both ways:

From an environmentalist point of view, if we want to ask the local people to renew their stewardship of the earth, we can’t dump our ideas (or our dress sense) and run away from theirs. There has to be a mutually-respecting exchange. So gals, next time you travel to Dubai, please leave the little black dress at home.

More on the trials and tribulations of visiting Dubai:

An Ant in Dubai

Tasteless Dried Shark Fin for Sale

Exclusive: Masdar City Open House Photos

image via michlea


About Tafline Laylin

As a tour leader who led “eco-friendly” camping trips throughout North America, Tafline soon realized that she was instead leaving behind a trail of gas fumes, plastic bottles and Pringles. In fact, wherever she traveled – whether it was Viet Nam or South Africa or England – it became clear how inefficiently the mandate to re-think our consumer culture is reaching the general public. Born in Iran, raised in South Africa and the United States, she currently splits her time between Africa and the Middle East. Tafline can be reached at tafline (at) greenprophet (dot) com, @teakettle22,

12 thoughts on “The Little Black Dress Is Not For Dubai

  1. Marie Celine

    Thanks for this article, I agree. I suppose it’s to be expected to dress modestly – as long as our dress code of clothing without Face or excessive body covering is respected when the UAE locals come to Europe or some place like Australia, USA, Japan, etc. In my experience, they mostly do dress to fit in abroad if they are from UAE
    If we dont all follow the rules, it’s not fair.

  2. Sally

    Thank you Tafline. Your article sparked a conversation amongst a mixed Australian/British group last night and we all agreed that standards have gradually fallen – as have necklines – over the last 10 years or so. Whoever would have thought that we’d need notices in malls to tell people to dress respectfully??

  3. Tafline Laylin Post author

    Thanks Sally, and agreed… I tried to even it out by talking about the “ugly American” because I do realize that it’s not just British girls. I’ve met some British gals here who need to tuck in, but I know there are others.

  4. Sally

    I live in Dubai and agree with everything you say BUT I must take exception to you singling out British girls as being the ones who walk around half naked. I am British and have two teenage daughters and I, and all my friends, have made sure to instill respect into our children. It’s very hard to know what nationality the kids in Dubai are since the vast majority of expat children are educated at English speaking schools. I don’t want to single out a particular nation, as you have, but it’s very commonly known who are the worst offenders amongst young women here and it’s not the British…


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