Dubai City Information Site

Women Living in Dubai

Hi friends, Kish here to talk about life for Western women living in Dubai

I decided to write about this topic after witnessing and responding to several posts on Dubai forums by women expressing their concern or simply wondering what life in

Dubai is like for expatriate women, particularly from the Western world.

So if you are planning to move to Dubai, you could not have found a better time to read this!

From my experience reading the various Dubai forums, the biggest fear Western women have about living in Dubai seems to be culture related.

Many American women asked if they have to cover their heads. British women asked if they have to give up their smoking habits. And other Asian women asked about their liberty to walk the streets late at night and practice their respective religions.

There seems to be a big misconception out there about women living in Dubai mainly because Dubai is a traditional Emirate in an Arabic/Islamic country – United Arab Emirates (UAE).

I have attempted to clarify some of the biggest concerns I came across that women from all around the world have about living in Dubai.

Total Transformation for Women Living in Dubai?

Nah, not necessary. Western women living in Dubai don’t have to worry too much about changing their ways and lifestyles. Although an Islamic territory, Dubai is quite socially modern in its mentality, and to an extent, its rules and regulations.

I have seen women smoke in Dubai, dress like they do in London or New York and hang out late at night at similar places they do in their home towns. There is one slight exception that I want you to keep in mind however.

My Biggest Advice

My biggest advice to you as a Western woman living in Dubai is to try to “tone down” your dressing habits just a tiny bit. I am not suggesting you wear a veil (called a Burkha) or a scarf over your head (called a Hijab). You won’t find any women living in Dubai wearing either of these – at least I have not seen any.

What I am saying however is that you should try to avoid outfits that expose too much skin, such as a deep cut top, or a SHORT pair of skirts. You can wear these comfortably in the evenings when you go out socially. However these kinds of outfits become “suspect” in the day time as you come under the naked eye of anyone who spots you.

Even if you are spotted wearing “explosive” attire, chances are no one will say anything to you. I just hope you don’t mind each man you walk by starring at you like an eagle looking for its prey. You will see what I am talking about when you get there. This has got to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings for me personally.

Geographical Contrast

Like I stated earlier, women living in Dubai can usually get by with the dress styles they are used to from their home towns. So if you are used to wearing a tank top with shorts on a sunny summer day when you go grocery shopping, you can wear the same even in Dubai.

One thing to keep in mind though is that if you are likely to visit places further away from the core Dubai city into the outskirts, you might want to stop by your apartment to put some pants on. This is because the city is mostly comprised of working professional expatriates and tourists. They are used to seeing the dress attire you are used to wearing.

The further you go away from the Dubai city, the less populated the areas become. These areas have a lower concentration of foreigners. Your attire will definitely be noticeable to the locals.

Other Common Issues

Some complain that women are always treated inferior to men when it comes to disputes. Others on the other hand feel as though women are held with high respect. I have heard mixed opinions. Personally I have never witnessed a difference in the way a woman is treated from a man. Now if you are wondering about racism, that’s another story and I won’t discuss that here.

Other common downsides that I hear about are traffic in Dubai, costly living mainly driven by high rents. However, to offset the negativities, women living in Dubai generally like the amenities offered by the Emirate. The biggest benefit of living in Dubai is cheap labor in the form of a house helper or a nanny for your kids.

Women living in Dubai also enjoy the social scene in Dubai quite a bit, not to mention the amazing shopping experience in Dubai that is second to none. There is just plenty to do and so many places to go in Dubai that women rarely report being bored while living in Dubai. I doubt you will!


Although living in Dubai may not be exactly like North America or Europe, it is an area rapidly growing to accommodate foreign cultures. For that reason, western women living in Dubai are finding the environment more comfortable than ever before.

Particularly, the tourist areas in Dubai are even more accommodating to foreign cultures because of their demographic mix. Most expatriates that come to Dubai for work are mainly concentrated in these very same areas as well.

Overall, as woman living in Dubai, you will have all your freedom that you are used to now (baring very few cultural limits in mind). As the government continues its push to grow Dubai and nearby areas, it will need more expatriates to move and help it grow. Inherently, foreigners will find it more and more comfortable to live in Dubai.

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