The Dress Code of Saudi Arabia for Foreigners

women with hijab

Saudi Arabia is a very religious country proud of its traditions. To avoid problems, it is essential to know what to wear in Saudi Arabia and, more importantly, what not to wear.

If you are planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, it is easy to adhere to the dress code as long as you understand the expectations. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the country can be considered very conservative by Western standards. Visitors are encouraged to dress modestly and not expose too much skin.

However, foreign tourists should not be alarmed. The Kingdom has recently dropped the most strict regulations concerning the dress code for female tourists. Foreigners are no longer expected to wear a headscarf and traditional abaya.

Saudi Arabia is a country that has not been open to tourism for a long time, but things are changing fast. In line with the new, more relaxed rules on clothes and accommodation bookings for unmarried women, it is now easier than ever for foreigners to access the Kingdom.

A new Saudi Arabia eVisa has gone live in September 2019, a great mark in the country’s history. It’s the first time that a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia has become available. Thanks to this electronic visa, applicants can file their application online in minutes and minimum documentation is required.

Saudi Arabia’s Dress Code for Women

Laws have started to relax but women can’t dress in western-style clothing which exposes skin. This includes shorter skirts, dresses, and loose tops.

Do Women Have to Wear an Abaya?

In religious sites, it is still a requirement to wear an abaya over normal clothes. An abaya is a long black cloak that covers the clothes and conceals the body shape.

The abaya is not a requirement for foreigners visiting sites of no religious significance.

Are Headscarfs Compulsory?

Wearing a headscarf is optional though some people in Saudi Arabia would say it was compulsory. For this reason, it is highly recommended to wear a headscarf when in public (especially in Riyadh). However, rules are gradually relaxing for foreign tourists meaning it is not as strict a requirement as it once was.

There are places where you don’t need to wear a headscarf. If in doubt, wear one. You can always wander round to see what other people are wearing and then take it off if you see others without them.

What Shoes Can Women Wear?

The rules on footwear are relaxed. Saudi women often wear open shoes though many choose to wear a comfortable pair of sneakers. Bear in mind it is a requirement to remove shoes before entering a mosque.

Can Women Wear Makeup and Jewelry?

Women can wear makeup but it should be modest, simplistic and not include bright colors. Wearing jewelry is fine as long as it’s tucked away and contains no symbols from other religions.

Saudi Arabia’s Dress Code for Men

Deciding what to wear in Saudi Arabia is much easier for men as there are fewer restrictions regarding what to wear. Men do not need to wear traditional Saudi clothes but should dress modestly at all times.

Covering Legs and Shoulders

When in public, men need to make sure their legs and shoulders are completely covered up. This means that vests and shorts are not allowed. Skinny jeans and clothes which are too tight are also frowned upon.

What is the Typical Work Dress Code for Men?

In the workplace, it is typical to wear a dark suit with a shirt and tie but the exact dress code varies from company to company. However, even in less formal offices, it is still typical to wear smart pants, a shirt, and a tie.

Can Men Wear Jewelry?

Wearing a wedding ring and a wristwatch is commonplace. However, anything more than this is seen as flashy and immodest. Men should avoid necklaces, bracelets, and wearing multiple rings.

The right clothes to wear is just one of the essential things to be aware of before visiting Saudi Arabia. Also, read about the laws in Saudi Arabia before setting off to ensure you don’t break any laws unknowingly.