Never has there been a more exciting, or free, time to visit Saudi Arabia. Since launching its tourism e-visa in 2019, the Kingdom has opened its doors to the world to discover and enjoy its ancient heritage sites and thriving modern cities, not to mention its glorious Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coastline with its ample diving sites. But while the abaya and head coverings haven’t been mandatory for female travellers since 2019, packing for a holiday to Saudi Arabia can be daunting. Luckily, the Kingdom’s new dress code is easy to follow, encouraging travellers to opt for loose, flowy clothes that cover the shoulders and knees but without the pressure of too much covering up. Here’s what to wear in Saudi Arabia.
What to wear in Saudi Arabia
A loose cotton shirt
Poplin shirt, Loewe, AED4,500, ounass.ae
A loose linen or cotton shirt, or a handful in different styles, colours and fabrics, are wardrobe staples when travelling to Saudi Arabia. They can be thrown over leggings, wide-leg trousers or a midi skirt for a day or exploring, or dressed up with some wide-leg trousers or a floaty maxi skirt and heels for the evening. Make sure your loose collared shirt is breathable to cope with the country’s hot and often very humid weather.
A flowy maxi dress
Theo floral-print crinkled fil coupé silk-blend maxi dress, Evarae, AED2,190 (now AED1,094), net-a-porter.com
Stand out against the sandstone and desert in a vibrant floaty maxi dress – a must-pack for anyone visiting Saudi Arabia. When packing your maxi dresses, go for ones with sleeves (no straps) that are generally on the looser, more floaty side.
Maverick jumpsuit in linen, Mossman, AED555, ounass.ae
A jumpsuit is a perfect outfit choice for an evening out in Riyadh or Jeddah in one of its new and flashy restaurants – think LMP, Billionaire or Hakkasan. Dress up the jumpsuit with a pair of heels and remember not to go for anything too tight fitted or showing too much chest or your shoulders.
Flared front-split leggings, The Giving Movement, AED349 (now AED175), thegivingmovement.com
Forgo athletic shorts in favour of below-the-knee leggings for your trip to Saudi Arabia – the perfect thing to wear when exploring the cities, hiking or getting out and the country’s range of heritage sights. Leggings are completely acceptable to wear despite being tight – just pair them with a looser-fitting t-shirt or shirt that falls beneath the lower back.
Matisse Placée in Silk Twill (blouse and trousers), La DoubleJ, ladoublej.com
A loose-fitting co-ord is a must for looking glam and adhering to Saudi Arabia’s dress codes. Go for something minimalist in black or white for a sleek daytime look, and dress it up with colours and patterns for the evening. Bottoms can be tighter as long as the top is loose and untucked, or go for loose-fitting bottoms and tuck the top in.
Le Palazzo high-rise wide-leg jeans, Frame, AED614, theoutnet.com
Jeans are a must-pack for any visit to Saudi Arabia. They’re warming, perfect for the cooler winters, particularly in the desert regions and can be dressed up or dressed down. When wearing skinny jeans opt for a top that covers your hips and bum or opt for a tucked-in t-shirt if wearing mum or a loose-fitting pair.
A swimsuit and beach gear
Antii One-piece Swimsuit, Andrea Iyamah, AED950, ounass.ae
Travellers to Saudi Arabia will find there are many rules and etiquettes for dressing – but the most reassuring is that travellers can largely wear what they want within the confines of their resort. When staying in AlUla’s luxurious desert resorts home to outdoor, mixed gender swimming pools, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts, strappy
Any shoes you fancy
Melanie platform sandals, Loeffler Randall, AED1,820, levelshoes.com
Wood canvas and leather slides, Chloe, AED1,439, matchesfashion.com
There are no customs or dress codes when it comes to footwear in the Kingdom. Reveal or hide as much of them as you like – open-toe sandals, thong-strap flip-flops, sky-high stilettos, trainers, boots, anything goes.
Botanique Earrings, Shashi, AED260, revolve.com
Mini Cydonia Leather Tote Bag, Medea, AED2,240, fabricofsociety.luxury
Expressing yourself with statement jewellery and accessories is a great idea for those feeling a little confined by the dress code. Dress up an outfit with eye-catching earrings or opt for a bright attention-grabbing handbag or tote – perfect for filling up to explore the city.
An abaya or kaftan
Beckett Satin Crepe Cape Dress, Alex Perry, AED8,300, bloomingdales.ae
Abayas are not mandatory at all, but some travellers will feel more comfortable packing one with them for days when they’re not sure on what to wear. They’re also incredibly chic and flattering, making deciding what to wear in Saudi Arabia much easier. There are hundreds of abaya shops in Saudi Arabia to browse through, at all price points, or you can purchase one beforehand in stores around the Gulf or online. Try brands like Aks, Nafs Designs, Anatomi, The Cape and Bleach for a modern and stylish take on the traditional garment.