• dubai during covid-19

Dubai's communication systems and SIM cards



We are connected 24/7, don’t you think? Media professionals in Dubai are very knowledgeable about Generation Y, so they have ensured that you have comprehensive and wide access to the internet throughout the city so that you can browse, make calls, and upload pictures to your Story wherever you are.

VoIP calls are banned in Dubai and the UAE, so a local SIM card purchased in Dubai cannot be used to make WhatsApp calls (voice and video) or Facebook calls. Until further notice, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype calls are only available for use by businesses, and the rest remain unavailable.


Connect With Happiness

A SIM card is usually purchased by tourists as soon as they arrive in the foreign country they are visiting. In Dubai, the Director General of Foreign Affairs has decided that tourists will not be charged for SIM cards, but will receive them for free. This is the “Connect With Happiness” project.


That's right! You read that correctly! Dubai provides free SIM cards to every tourist over the age of 18 upon arrival at the airport, pre-loaded with 1GB of data for surfing and 5G network support. At the manned border inspection desk, the card will be handed out and will be valid for 30 days or 24 hours from the time it is activated.

During the “Connect With Happiness” project, a free SIM card will be given to every tourist who comes to Dubai. The authorities believe it will improve the happiness of the tourists. The project is part of a set of measures taken by officials to assist tourists in having a positive experience in the country.


Cardholders of the Du card (which we will discuss in more detail later) can load the card online and choose from packages that cost 49/99/139/189 or 299 dirhams for unlimited browsing on the company's website. Also available on this website is information on how to activate the SIM card.

Simply dial *122 # to activate the card, enter the passport number, the arrival date, and the name of the country. You will receive an SMS confirming the start of the service, and you will be asked to dial 135 to select the language of the service. Now you're ready to go!


Local service providers of telecommunications

Dubai has two main local telecommunications providers (and a small one) that offer services for mobile devices: Du and Etisalat. Because there are only two big players on the market, prices are comparable to other countries, but are considered high.

Virgin Mobile is the small company that offers its services.

In terms of their deployments, Etisalat seems to cover a larger area of the country with a higher level of quality, so that it appears to be superior to Du in this regard. Nevertheless, Du's layout is also not bad at all. 

Even though both companies support G5 technology, Etisalat is considered the best provider in the UAE for surfing with this technology.


Etisalat Communications Packages:

The company offers four packages for tourists (prepaid):

  • For 49 dirhams – you get 2.0GB of browsing and 30 minutes of talk time.
  • For 79 dirhams – you get 4.0GB of browsing and 30 minutes of talk time.
  • For 125 dirhams – you get 6.0GB of browsing and 120 minutes of talk time.
  • For 200 dirhams – you get 22.5GB of surfing and 525 minutes of talk time.

Each of the packages is valid for only 28 days from the moment of purchase.

* When purchasing these packages, you will also receive a 100 dirham credit for the Careem (local Uber) service as a gift.

»  More up-to-date information on these and other packages can be found on the company's website


Du Communications Packages:

As mentioned above, you will receive a pre-loaded SIM card as soon as you arrive in Dubai, along with 20 megabytes of free surfing. Then, you may choose from the following three packages:

  • For 55 dirhams – you will receive 0.5GB of surfing and 20 minutes of talk time (this package is valid for 7 days).
  • For 75 dirhams – you get 2.0GB of surfing and 40 minutes of talk time (this package is valid for 14 days).
  • For 110 dirhams – you get 3.5GB of surfing and 50 minutes of talk time (this package is valid for 14 days).

* International calls are included in these packages.


»  More up-to-date information on these and other packages can be found on the company's website


Virgin Mobile Communication Packages:

Packages are available monthly, semi-annually or annually. Depending on the expected usage and amount of browsing, customized packages can also be requested.

  • The monthly package starts at about 83 dirhams for 1GB of browsing and 50 minutes of local calling.

» More up-to-date information on these packages and additional packages can be found on the Virgin Mobile website, click here.


What is the best way to purchase SIM cards?

Several malls in Dubai sell SIM cards, but as mentioned earlier, you should buy the card (or get it free) as soon as you land at the airport.

A passport is required to purchase a SIM card in Dubai because the SIM card will be registered in your name only after identification is confirmed.


What is the best package for me?

In Dubai, virtually every hotel, shopping center, restaurant, and tourist attraction offers a free Wifi connection, so you can communicate free of charge at almost any time without purchasing a communication package. There are also many public places with a Wifi connection, which enables you to surf almost anywhere for free.


Another option is to purchase a package from one of the companies in your country, but sometimes these packages are not the most affordable, especially when comparing packages available in Dubai and those offered by your local providers.


In case you decide to buy a SIM card in Dubai, note that Virgin has the cheapest prices and the most affordable packages, but Etisalat has the most user-friendly interface. Because the price of the packages changes periodically, it is suggested that you check updates on the membership sites before your trip in order to make the most cost-effective decision.


Some useful links for you –

Travel during COVID-19 in Dubai

Looking for travel insurance?

Have a city tour in Dubai

In case you didn’t book a flight yet

Rent a private luxury car

Compare the best 5 star hotels in Dubai