Dubai Packing List and Summertime Travel Tips

Dubai during the summer months is a whole lot different than Dubai during the winter months. Cheaper accommodation prices are attractive for this expensive city, but also consider the weather, what to wear and available activities to do.

Dubai, like most sand-filled deserts, is sweltering hot in the summer. Temperatures soar to 40°C amidst the dense and humid air. The Canadian in me, at times, found it unbearable, yet there were those that nonchalantly walked under the sun’s wrath. Although very preventative, beware the chance of bearing a heat stroke. Always carry a water bottle and limit your time outdoors when the sun’s at its peak.

But what should you pack? There’s more to it then light clothing and a hat. Here’s a list of what I found necessary during my summertime visit to Dubai:

Dubai Packing List

  • You’re going to sweat. If you’re outside for an hour or even a mere ten minutes your clothes will cling to your skin, drenched with perspiration. I could feel the heat and dense air five floors down in Dubai Mall’s underground parking garage. Depending on your stay’s length, pack ample underwear and clothes. Last summer I lived all over the UAE with just a carry-on. This was feasible because I stayed with relatives and I could dump my clothes in their washing machine every so often. If your accommodation doesn’t have a washer and hand-washing your clothes isn’t an option, then pack a suitcase filled with clothes.

    Loose linen and cotton clothing is the way to go. Long sleeves and pants provide ideal protection from the sun. A bonus is you’ll make the Emiratis happy with your modest attire. Ladies, thin, flowy maxi skirts are your best friend. You can pair it with a camisole or a tee. You can buy the perfect summery, linen top and maxi skirt from Amazon below.

    Nighttime is more bearable, but it definitely doesn’t require a jacket or even a second layer of clothing.
 
  • Semi-formal attire. When going out in the evening make sure your dress or outfit is light because it's still humid at night. Try to keep it less bulky unless you're hopping straight from your air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned wherever-you’re-going.
     
  • Heels. A lot of younger Emirati women and some expats walk around in heels, especially around downtown Dubai. I’d reserve these for going out in the evening.
     
  • If you pack makeup, don’t bother putting it on during the day unless you want your mascara transferring and your foundation turning greasy within 30 minutes. Keep that for the evening.
     
  • Swimsuit. Swim attire is only to be worn on beaches or by pools. Unless you wear a burkini (modest Islamic swimwear). You can wear that thing anywhere.
 
  • Umbrella. It rarely rains in the UAE during summer, although the government’s working on artificial rain to maintain cooler summer temperatures. Many people carry umbrellas to shade them from the sun. This UV travel sun umbrella is perfect as its silver colour prevents heat from reflecting downward and the black underside blocks UV light. Bear in mind this is not a rain umbrella, but it's perfect for the sunny desert weather. Buy it here:
 
  • Sandals. Forget socks and closed shoes. Do your feet a favour and let them breathe. I can’t imagine doing anything in the summer that requires closed shoes. Unless you’re a health freak and will be jogging every evening at Dubai Marina.

    I recommend the classic, comfy Birkenstocks or the Ecco Damara sports sandal, which come in many colours and are great for walking.
 
  • Wear something on your head! Pack a wide-brimmed hat, baseball cap, or better yet, get cultured and wrap a keffiyeh to protect against the sun’s scorching rays.
 
  • Sunscreen. Although sometimes I prefer to wear long sleeves, sunscreen is much needed if you’ll bare some skin. In fact, during the day, I saw many tourists slather on sunscreen and lay to sunbath, while I felt I was going to melt in a puddle. Maybe I’m just extra sensitive to heat.

    La Roche-Posay SPF 60 sunscreen is fantastic. It's allergy-tested, fragrance and paraben-free and stays water-resistant for 80 minutes. Buy it here:
 
  • Water bottle. I’ll simplify this. Dubai is heavily reliant on plastic water bottles. Households buy caseloads. Tap water is undrinkable. Dubai has a recycling system; however, I’ve seen people chuck their plastic bottles into garbage bins. Prepare to increase your carbon footprint.

    You’ll spend a lot on water bottles because the hot temperatures will quickly boil your water. Don’t leave your water bottle in the car. I’ve had to repurchase many because of this. Nonetheless, your water will rapidly warm even as you walk around with it.

    I wish I had bought The Coldest Water® insulated bottle which keeps your drink cold for up to 36 hours. My sister takes it with her when she travels and fills it with water from water bottles. It keeps her water colder (and drinkable) for longer. Check it out here on Amazon.
 
  • Sunglasses. If you forget these at home, buy a pair at the airport. By 10 am it was difficult to walk with my eyes open, looking straight ahead because the sun was so bright, and the sun’s heat prickled my eyes.

Dubai Travel Tips for Summer

Dubai during summer is dead and that’s a good thing. You’ll enjoy fewer crowds because the majority of expats have returned home. This also means many outdoor attractions are closed like Dubai Global Village and the Miracle Garden. Make sure to check opening hours before driving off somewhere.

Have I mentioned it’s hot? You may want to do a Musandam tour to Oman or visit Hatta village so be careful. I didn’t bother doing elongated outdoor activities, like kayaking. Instead, I opted for a sunset yacht cruise or jet skiing.

Many people (Emiratis) prefer to go out after dusk when the temperature is cooler, but I don’t recommend this as you obviously want to explore.

Well, there you have it. Dubai in the summer is quite enjoyable, just make sure you are prepared to face the heat. Hopefully these tips will aid you when travelling to Dubai in the summer. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

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