Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

“Are you allowed to wear that?”

with 3 comments

It’s a question that pops up a lot here thanks to Dubai’s decency laws, which require women to cover themselves respectably when in public places. Malls all display requests on the door for shoppers to dress “respectfully”; the children’s school even sends home regular missives asking parents not to present at school drop-off in such horrors as a Primark frock.

Strictly no Primark frocks allowed!

Sign at all malls in Dubai: Strictly no Primark frocks allowed!

(I’m kidding – it actually forbids us from showing shoulders or knees and specifically mentions that ladies must not wear “shorts above the knee” – though surely then they cease to be shorts and become, I don’t know, culottes?).

Anyway, in addition to the decency laws, Dubai is, frankly, quite dressy. Many don’t want it to be so, and actively cultivate a stylish down-dressed, can’t-be-arsed look, but the fact remains that your average shopper in Mirdif City Centre presents better than your average shopper in Lakeside Thurrock. Fact.

But, around the house, chez Mrs Dubai, anything goes – usually khaki shorts (not of a Miley-Cyrus twerking kind of style), a white t-shirt and flipetty-flops. V comfy, v easy and perfect for cooking the kids’ tea.

And now I will get to my point. Yesterday, I realised that DD needed new passport pictures. To us Dubai-ites, passport pictures are like oxygen: if you fall below a critical number (at least four), you start to hyperventilate and come out in hives, so we popped out post-cooking and pre-eating supper to get some new ones done. I was, needless to say, not in the sassy pencil -skirt-and-heels ensemble I’d worn to school (covering the knee and shoulder, of course), but in the around-the-house khaki-shorts-and-white-t-shirt combo.

Seriously? It didn’t look that bad. In a sort of easy-going GAP way.

But, as we stepped into the garage, DD looked me up and down and said, “Are you allowed to wear that out? To the supermarket?”

And I imagined at once the community style police falling on me at the supermarket door: “Mrs D, Lady of the Ranches, one cannot go out looking like that. One is letting down the team; property prices are plummeting as we speak. Be thee home and put on a Marc Jacobs silk frock at once. Step up, Mrs D, keep our property values high.”

And you know what, lovely readers? That didn’t happen, but had it done, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.


Written by mrsdubai

September 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Haha, that’s a great story! I’m also curious about where you would wear shorts or a tank top here in Dubai? I just moved here this summer, and am trying to feel it all out. I do have some shorts and tank tops that aren’t revealing, but still don’t want to be completely disrespectful. Thanks!!



    September 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    • I did see you posted about decency in clothing last year and I realize how much gray area there is! Thanks for all your information about living here!


      September 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    • Hello, you can wear shorts and a vest around your home, to the beach, to the community pool, probably to the local park. Some would also wear out and about in Dubai but I personally would not, certainly not the mall or the souks. Happy to be of help! xox


      September 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm

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