While the desert environment of the United Arab Emirates may be unbearable to most visitors in summer, winter provides the perfect time to escape to this exotic location. With tremendous scenery, cutting-edge architecture, and unforgettable experiences, the UAE is the place to be during the winter.


This memorable destination provides a few lingering questions for first-time tourists. How strict is the dress code in the UAE? How cold does the desert climate get in cooler months? What clothes should I pack for winter travel? We assembled this useful guide to help you pack and enjoy an unforgettable holiday in the United Arab Emirates.

Winter Weather in the UAE

While snow falling from the sky is rare, it does happen! Cold temperatures and icy sidewalks are probably out of reach, but there are still some important considerations for dressing for winter weather in the UAE.


Lows from December to February in the UAE reach an average of about 60 – 70 degrees. At the height of the day, temperatures can rise to the low eighties. This slight range of temperature provides a mild and pleasant winter atmosphere, similar to Southern California.


These lovely temperatures make it appropriate to wear light layers while visiting the UAE. Having access to a light jacket or sweater is smart to effortlessly adjust to the small but noticeable range in temperature. If you plan to enjoy a desert excursion or a cruise on the Arabian Gulf that sets sail from Ras Al Khaimah, some light outerwear helps in the winter.


Precipitation is rare in this desert climate, but some weather patterns are possible. About once every few years snow and ice accumulate in the United Arab Emirates, especially in higher elevations. However, traditional winter weather is rare in the UAE.


Ice and snow are rare, but dust storms occur far more frequently. Winter dust storms can spread a fine mist of particulates through the air, making breathing difficult or irritating the eyes. These storms, also called haboobs, can carry bacteria and viruses inside their sandy clouds. Packing sunglasses and a shawl will help protect you from sudden dust storms.

Dressing Respectfully

Simple adjustments can easily be made to adapt to the UAE’s winter weather patterns. The same can be said for packing clothes to be respectful toward Emirati culture. The official religion of the United Arab Emirates is Islam. Thoughtful tourists can follow a few simple guidelines to travel with comfort and respect throughout the UAE.


It is recommended to always cover your knees and shoulders while traveling in public in Ras Al Khaimah or other Emirates. Long-sleeved blouses and shirts are your best bet as clothes to pack to travel to the UAE in winter. Long, loose pants or skirts and dresses extending past your knees will also work. 


Fashion is crucial in Emirati cities, as places like Dubai in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah are considered the future of clothing design. If you plan to visit for a winter holiday like New Year’s Eve, pack your finest! People love to dress to impress in the United Arab Emirates, and it will be hard to show up overdressed.


Short-sleeve blouses and T-shirts are also ok and informal dressing is perfectly appropriate throughout the UAE. Tank tops for men and women should be avoided, as well as shorts. Men can wear shorts with more ease but the shorts must extend past the knee.


Swimsuits are welcome in the UAE, but modesty is requested here too. Men can wear standard trunks of an appropriate length. Some beaches may ask men to wear t-shirts with their swim shorts. 


Women cannot wear thongs or see-through swimsuits, but bikinis are often permitted. Again, public beaches and pools may have stricter regulations. Check in with the establishment before you arrive. 


Private beaches and pools, found within resorts, maintain their rules for the pool dress code and are often more relaxed.

Beating the Winter Chill

Anyone who has visited a desert location knows how surprisingly chilly temperatures can feel at night. This is no different than in the United Arab Emirates. This nation consists primarily of vast dunes and uninhabited deserts. Citizens live and tourists visit near flat coastal areas.


In the early morning and dusk periods of the UAE the temperature drops to around 60 degrees. Cool breezes from the Arabian Gulf and coming from the dunes sweep chilly and refreshing air into the UAE’s cities. While this is not the typical winter weather of places like Canada or Northern Europe, tourists dressed for the heat of the desert may experience discomfort at night. 


The most efficient way to beat the winter chill in the UAE is by packing a shawl or light jacket. As previously discussed, a large scarf protects from the occasional dust storm and provides instant coverage when entering a mosque. Consider packing a few shawls and pashminas of different weights as a lightweight way to stay warm during a UAE winter trip.


Heavy winter jackets, fleece, or denim are not recommended when traveling to the UAE in winter. While these will effectively keep you warm during a freak winter storm or chilly evening, they are largely overkill for the purpose. Save room for souvenirs from visits to Ras Al Khaimah and the other Emirates and leave the heavy fabrics and clothing at home.

Winter Packing List for the UAE

  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf or shawl
  • Light sweaters
  • Long-sleeve blouses
  • Light jacket
  • Long, loose-fitting pants
  • Midi-length skirts and dresses
  • Maxi-length skirts and dresses
  • Swimsuit
  • Swimsuit coverup


Winter weather in the United Arab Emirates does not evoke visions of snowy landscapes and thick mittens. However, it does take some thoughtfulness to choose clothes to pack to travel to the UAE in winter. 


Choose light layers to beat any winter chill. Pack a few shawls and pashminas for versatile dressing and comfort. While there can be occasional chilly weather in the UAE, heavy fabrics or coats are not necessary. Pack clothing that is respectful to the local culture and select long-sleeved tops, long pants, and other full-coverage articles of clothing.


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