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4 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): Buying Guide

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) – mostly known for the insane skyscrapers in Dubai, Dubai International Airport, and Emirates & Etihad Airlines.

When you think of the United Arab Emirates, you may think of the Burj Khalifa, The World Islands in Dubai, or elegant malls

But what about the less extravagant things, like the many deserts full of exciting attractions (and full of sand, of course).

You would almost forget the United Arab Emirates has many deserts when you mostly see pictures of Dubai.

So, what to do in this country?

If you love to shop, The Dubai Mall is for you.

Lose seeing beautiful mosques? Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will take your breath away.

Into art? The Alserkal Avenue has a bunch of modern art galleries.

In short, being bored while in the United Arab Emirates should be illegal.

Before you decide to make your friends on social media jealous, be aware that international roaming can be expensive.

You are better off buying local SIM cards to enjoy local rates, even in the United Arab Emirates – not a place known for being affordable.

But how expensive are SIM cards in this country?

You can get an Emirati SIM card for as low as 55 AED (15 USD) up to 99 AED (27 USD) in mobile operator stores (Etisalat – also for Swyp, Du & Virgin Mobile) or authorized dealers. SIM cards are also available at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah airports.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

15 USD for a SIM card? That is certainly not cheap.

As I said, this is not a cheap country. But international roaming rates here? They are criminal.

But, you will be visiting a country that has the fastest mobile download speeds globally.

So is it worth the price? Probably. But we will have to see, huh?

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the United Arab Emirates. Let's do this.

Buying a SIM Card in the United Arab Emirates Guide (logos of Etisalat, Du, Virgin Mobile & Swyp)

Original publication: 25th of December 2019. Last updated: 14th of September 2021.

Table of Contents

In This Guide Show

Can You Buy a SIM Card in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

Anyone 18 years old or older living in or visiting the United Arab Emirates can buy an Emirati SIM card from the mobile network operators (Etisalat, Du, Swyp & Virgin Mobile) in their stores or from authorized resellers.

You do have to comply with the SIM card registration regulations.

Moreover, you need a phone that supports the frequencies used in the country (preferably all of them to have the most optimal experience while in the United Arab Emirates).

Furthermore, you need to have a SIM-lock-free device.

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

You can get an Emirati SIM card in Etisalat (also for Swyp), Du & Virgin Mobile stores. It is also possible to get SIM cards at select international airports, including Dubai International Airport.

You can buy a SIM card in the following international airports:

  • Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi International Airport (مطار أبوظبي الدولي)
  • Dubai – Dubai International Airport (مطار دبي الدولي/Maṭār Dubayy al-Duwalī)
  • Sharjah – Sharjah International Airport (مطار الشارقة)

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

You can expect to pay the following for Emirati SIM cards:

  • Etisalat UAE: 55 AED (57.75 AED with VAT)
  • Du: 55 AED (57.75 AED with VAT)
  • Swyp UAE: 99 AED (103.95 AED with VAT)
  • Virgin Mobile UAE: free, but plan required (minimum of 36.75 AED witv VAT)

The following operators also have SIM cards targeting tourists:

  • Etisalat UAE: 49 AED, 79 AED, 125 AED & 200 AED
  • Du: 55 AED, 75 AED & 110 AED

Can You Use Your Phone in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

The United Arab Emirates use GSM technology for mobile communications. CDMA phones will not work in the United Arab Emirates. If your phone has a SIM card slot, then it supports GSMA (99% of the phones do support GSM nowadays).

Traditional European frequencies are used in the United Arab Emirates, which are mostly used in ITU Regions 1 & 3 (Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe & Oceania).

The Americas (North-, Central– & South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2) use American Frequencies, which differ from the European ones.

ITU Regions Map
By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – Own work, using this file by Denelson83, CC BY-SA 2.5

If you bought your phone in Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania (ITU regions 1 & 3), you should not experience any issues with using your phone in the United Arab Emirates.

If you purchased your phone in the Americas (ITU Region 2) and have a low/medium-end device (without Tri-Band or Quad-Band) support, then there is a possibility you cannot use your phone when in the United Arab Emirates or can only use slower networks (3G or 2G).

If you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, you can use your phone in the United Arab Emirates (to some extent) – also on 4G/LTE and 5G NR.

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates have two mobile network operators (Main Operators) and two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs):

  • Etisalat UAE
  • Du
  • Swyp UAE (Etisalat UAE MVNO for the youth)
  • Virgin Mobile UAE (Du MVNO)

The following frequencies are used in the United Arab Emirates:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7) & 3500 MHz (Band 42)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

To check whether your phone will work in the United Arab Emirates, check out this page by Will My Phone Work (may be outdated or inaccurate at times).

Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).

If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.

5G NR in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Commercial 5G NR has been available in the United Arab Emirates since 2019. It was available to all types of customers, including prepaid users.

Although 5G NR is still mostly concentrated in populated areas (like Abu Dhabi and Dubai), it is still being actively rolled out.

Best SIM Card in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

If you want to buy the best SIM card in the UAE, I recommend going with either Etisalat or Du. Etisalat is the fastest mobile network operator and has the best coverage. But it has a strict policy of only selling tourist SIM cards to short-term visitors.

Du is more flexible with the types of SIM cards their sell and the validity tied to them and is generally great too.

SIM Card Registration in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

SIM card registration, with the use of your passport information, is mandatory in the United Arab Emirates. This will be done at the point of purchase.

As of 2016, biometrics (fingerprints) will also be taken as part of the SIM card registration process.

VAT in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

As of January 2018, the Emirati government introduced a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5% applicable to most goods and services in the United Arab Emirates.

The 5% VAT will be charged when using your prepaid credit to buy a package or plan.

This means that you will not be taxed 5% when reloading your SIM card or that the reload amounts have increased by 5% (like in Saudi Arabia).

Instead, the 5% VAT will be charged when buying a SIM card or buying a plan.

The prices listed below will mention whether the advertised price is tax inclusive or not.

Internet Censorship in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

There is internet censorship in the United Arab Emirates. The government censors various things, such as LGBTQ content, pornography, political criticism, and escort services.

Other inaccessible sites are Israeli domains (.il).

However, unlike other countries in the region, internet censorship is not as strong in the United Arab Emirates.

Usually, I would recommend using a VPN when a government censors the internet.

However, a change to the Cybercrime Law in 2016 states that […] Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than 500 000 AED and not exceeding 2 000 000 AED, or either of these two penalties,

In short, this makes the use of VPN services de facto illegal.

However, VPN use for corporate use is still allowed (to access internal networks, for example).

Moreover, the government will have a hard time tracking individuals using VPNs (especially those with camouflage protocols, such as NordVPN and Surfshark).

Because of this, I will not advocate for VPN usage in the United Arab Emirates just to access blocked websites or avoid surveillance.

However, I always recommend travelers to use a VPN when connecting to (open) WIFI hotspots or access geo-blocked content, like Netflix. You can check the VPNs I recommend for the purposes stated above on this page.

And certainly not to access blocked websites deemed immoral by the government *wink* *wink*.

VoIP Ban in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

VoIP services have mostly been banned in the United Arab Emirates.

Examples of VoIP services are WhatsApp calls, Facebook Messenger calls, or Snapchat calls.

One of the most cited reasons why VoIP has been banned in the Kingdom is that it would result in loss of (international) call and text revenues for Etisalat and Du (which are both partially state-owned – 40% stake in both operators).

As of now, only four apps offering VoIP can be used while in the United Arab Emirates, which are BOTIM, C'Me, VoiCo (by Du), and HIU Messenger.

If you intend to call with the four apps, you do have to purchase Internet Calling packages (up to 52.50 AED for monthly access).

Or you can use a VPN and use whatever app you want (and not be spied on).

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mobile Speeds, Mobile Internet Prices & Insights

Flag of the United Arab Emirates

Mobile data costs are quite affordable in the Middle East.

In some countries, the cost of mobile data is less than 1 USD per GB. In others, it is basically daylight robbery.

What about in the United Arab Emirates?

The average price for 1 GB of data in the United Arab Emirates is 7.62 USD, way higher than the Middle Eastern average of 3.94 USD. The world average is 4.07 USD.

I am not sure what happened this year, but the average cost of data almost doubled compared to 2020.

Or something went wrong during the calculations last year because the prices dropped significantly compared to 2019.

Okay, so mobile data rates are a bit high. Do you at least get fast speeds in return? Yes, you do.

The United Arab Emirates' average mobile download speed is around 190 Mbps – the fastest in the world.

For more than a year, the United Arab Emirates has been hovering around the top three countries with the fastest mobile download speeds.

Its main competitors are South Korea, Qatar, China, and Saudi Arabia – all having average mobile download speeds of more than 150 Mbps.

With the fast rollout of 5G NR, the United Arab Emirates has improved its average mobile download speed by 72.2%.

And what makes this even more remarkable is that the average mobile download speed was already high!

So, which cities should you visit for the fastest speeds?

That would be Ajman, with an average download speed of 126.77 Mbps. Followed by Dubai (124.50 Mbps) and Abu Dhabi (120.87 Mbps).

And these speeds are bound to go even higher with the rollout of 5G NR expanding to less populated Emirates.

With reasonably priced SIM cards, a bit pricey mobile data rates, literally blazing-fast mobile download speeds, and extensive coverage, you should have a smooth network experience in the United Arab Emirates.

Currency in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

200 United Arab Emirates Dirham Bank Note
© Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates/مصرف الإمارات العربية المتحدة المركزي

The United Arab Emirates use the United Arab Emirates Dirham with the symbol AED (which will be used throughout this guide). However, prices are often listed in د.إ For example, 25 AED = 25 د.إ .

For reference, below are some exchange rates between AED and USD (US Dollars):

  • 1 AED = 0.25 USD
  • 10 AED = 2.70 USD
  • 100 AED = 27.25 USD
  • 1000 AED = 272.25 USD

For up-to-date AED:USD exchange rates, search AED to USD on Google, or replace USD with the currency you use.

If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Transferwise Borderless Account and Debit Card.

Their fees are MUCH lower than banks, and credit card companies charge you (and Transferwise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).

I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Euros, my main currency, when using Transferwise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards. Open a Transferwise account FREE!

Wise Signup Banner

Emirati Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through Etisalat UAE, Du, Swyp & Virgin Mobile UAE, and go through:

  • Background information
  • Mobile coverage
  • SIM card types, prices, and availability
  • Recharge/top-up information
  • Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs) 

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

With that being said, let’s see what the United Arab Emirates have to offer to us.


Etisalat UAE

Etisalat Logo New
© Etisalat

Etisalat UAE, just Etisalat, is the largest mobile operator in the United Arab Emirates. It also won the prestigious award for having the world's fastest mobile network of 2020.

It is also the best mobile operator in all aspects in the United Arab Emirates.

Etisalat, as a company, is active in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

Etisalat uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2600 MHz (Band 7) & 3500 MHz (Band 42)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)

This is what you will learn about Etisalat:

* Coverage
* How to Get an Etisalat SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Etisalat UAE

Etisalat has the best coverage in the United Arab Emirates.

Basically, all of the populated areas are covered by Etisalat. You may, however, have to deal with 2G or 3G in deserts.

Below is Etisalat's 2G coverage map:

Then we have the 3G map:

Let's take a look at the 4G/LTE map:

We also have the 5G NR map:

I always like to compare official coverage maps with one made independently because some mobile operators are overly optimistic with their maps.

SIM Card Price – Etisalat UAE

You can buy an Etisalat SIM card, called Wasel Prepaid Line, for 55 AED (57.75 AED with VAT) with 1 GB with the first recharge (valid for 7 days) in Etisalat stores and from authorized resellers.

It is also possible to get Etisalat SIM cards at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport & Sharjah International Airport.

Short-term travelers can also take advantage of the Etisalat Visitor Line – Etisalat's tourist SIM card.

They come in four variants, which are shown below:

Price (with VAT)PlanDataFlexi MinutesUAE WIFI HoursCareem CreditValidity
49 AEDVisitor Line2 GB30 minutesN/A100 AED28 days
79 AEDVisitor Line + 4 GB30 minutesN/A100 AED28 days
125 AEDVisitor Line Premium6 GB120 minutes5 hours100 AED28 days
200 AEDVisitor Line Premium +22.5 GB525 minutes30 hours100 AED28 days

Be aware that tourists and travelers will most likely only get Visitor Lines when getting an Etisalat SIM card, not a Wasel Prepaid Line SIM card.

Etisalat employees are often strict with this policy.

Moreover, the validity of your Visitor Line SIM card is tied to the validity of your visa, which could mean a shorter validity than advertised.

Migrant workers, who often read this guide, do not have to worry about the aforementioned policy – you can simply get a regular Etisalat SIM card and take advantage of many of the plans mentioned later.

It is also possible to get an Etisalat eSIM for the same price as a regula SIM card.

To use an Etisalat eSIM, you need to have one of the following devices:

  • iPhone XS/XS Max/XR

Dial *101# to access the Etisalat menu.

Etisalat SIM cards get deactivated if there has been no activity for 12 months (no top-up for 12 months or no activity for 12 months).

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Etisalat UAE

Etisalat top-up vouchers are sold in Etisalat stores and many other establishments, such as kiosks, gas stations, and grocery stores.

The following top-up options (recharge cards & eVouchers) are available:

  • 25 AED
  • 50 AED
  • 100 AED
  • 200 AED
  • 500 AED

To top up your Etisalat SIM card, dial *120*VoucherCode# or dial *101# and follow the instructions.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *120*123456*1#.

You can also tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge online with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *101#, *121#, or call 121 to check your Etisalat balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the My Etisalat UAE app (Android/iOS/Huawei AppGallery).

My Etisalat UAE App
© Etisalat UAE

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Etisalat UAE

Etisalat has eleven data-featured plans:

All Etisalat plans can be purchased by dialing *101#.

Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in:

Pinoy Pack – Etisalat UAE

The Pinoy Pack is a plan targeted at Filipino migrant workers. It features data, minutes, and SMS.

Pinoy Pack can be activated by texting Pinoy to 1020:

PriceDataBarkada Minutes 2Local MinutesInternational Minutes 1Flexi SMSValidityActivation Code
20 AED1 GB210 minutes20 minutes20 minutes250 Flexi SMS7 days Pinoy to 1020

1 only to the Philippines
2 to other Pinoy Pack users

WaselGO – Etisalat UAE

WaselGo is the base plan for the Wasel Prepaid Line. It featured data and Flexi Minutes (local & international minutes).

WaselGo can be activated by dialing *101#:

Price (with VAT)PlanDataFlexi MinutesValidity
10.50 AEDWaselGo Small400 MB (@ 400 Kbps)15 minutes7 days
26.25 AEDWaselGo Medium750 MB40 minutes7 days
52.50 AEDWaselGo Large2 GB100 minutes7 days
78.75 AEDWaselGo Extra Large3.5 GB175 minutes7 days

WaselGo auto-renews. To disable auto-renewal, dial *101#.

Monthly Addons – Etisalat UAE

The Monthly Addons are combo plans with data and Flexi Minutes (local & international minutes).

Although the name includes addons, they can be purchased as standalone plans.

Monthly Addons can be purchased by dialing *101#:

Price (with VAT)DataFlexi MinutesValidity
36.75 AED500 MB25 minutes28 days
57.75 AED1 GB50 minutes28 days
105 AED2 GB140 minutes30 days
115.50 AED3 GB150 minutes28 days
173.25 AED6 GB200 minutes28 days
231 AED10 GB250 minutes28 days

Monthly Addons auto-renew. To disable auto-renewal, dial *101#.

Wasel Flexi – Etisalat UAE

Wasel Flexi is a new type of plan allowing you to be flexible with your choice in data and Flexi Minutes (local & international minutes).

You can often get 1 GB bonus data during promotions.

Wasel Flexi can be activated by dialing *101*50#:

Price (with VAT)DataFlexi MinutesValidity
50 AED1 GB30 minutes28 days
60 AED1 GB60 minutes28 days
70 AED1 GB90 minutes28 days
80 AED2 GB30 minutes28 days
90 AED2 GB60 minutes28 days
100 AED2 GB90 minutes28 days
100 AED3 GB30 minutes28 days
110 AED3 GB60 minutes28 days
120 AED3 GB90 minutes28 days
Super Hour Data Access – Etisalat UAE

The Super Hour Data Access plans are data-only bundles with unlimited data (at slow speeds – 3 Mbps) for 1 or 3 hour(s).

Super Hour Data Access can be purchased by dialing *800*5#:

Price (with VAT)PlanDataValidity
3 AEDSuper 1 HourUnlimited (@ 3 Mbps)1 hour
6 AEDSuper 3 HoursUnlimited (@ 3 Mbps)3 hours
Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Local Data) – Etisalat UAE

The Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Local Data) are data-only bundles.

Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Local Data) can be bought by dialing *101#:

Price (with VAT)DataValidity
2.50 AED75 MB1 day
4.20 AED150 MB1 day
8 AED250 MB1 day
15 AED75 MB/day (525 MB)7 days
15 AED500 MB1 day
25 AED150 MB/day (1.05 GB)7 days
30 AED1000 MB1 day
40 AED250 MB/day (1.75 GB)7 days
42 AED75 MB/day (2.1 GB)28 days
60 AED500 MB/day (3.5 GB)7 days
63 AED150 MB/day (4.2 GB)28 days
90 AED250 MB/day (7 GB)28 days
100 AED1000 MB/day (7 GB)7 days
130 AED500 MB/day (14 GB)28 days
200 AED1000 MB/day (28 GB)28 days
One Time Data Packs – Etisalat UAE

The One Time Data Packs are data-only plans with social media data allowances (BOTIM, C'ME, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat, & WhatsApp).

One Time Data Packs can be activated by dialing *170*1# or *101#:

Price (with VAT)DataSocial Media Data 1Validity
5 AED100 MBN/A24 hours
10 AED250 MBN/A24 hours
20 AED300 MBN/A7 days
30 AED250 MB250 MB30 days
50 AED1 GBN/A7 days
100 AED1 GB1 GB30 days
150 AED3 GB2 GB30 days
200 AED5 GB3 GB30 days
250 AED7 GB4 GB30 days
300 AED10 GB5 GB30 days
450 AED20 GB10 GB30 days
500 AED25 GB15 GB30 days

1 BOTIM (chat only), C'ME (chat only), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat, & WhatsApp

Auto Renewal Data Packs – Etisalat UAE

The Auto Renewal Data Packs are data-only plans that auto-renew (can be disabled by dialing *170*1# or *101#).

Auto Renewal Data Packs can be activated by dialing *170*1# or *101#:

Price (with VAT)DataValidity
2.10 AED60 MB24 hours
4.20 AED150 MB24 hours
31.50 AED500 MB28 days
52.50 AED1 GB28 days
84 AED2 GB30 days
105 AED3 GB28 days
157.50 AED6 GB28 days
210 AED10 GB28 days
315 AED20 GB28 days
630 AED50 GB28 days
Visitor Line Data Packages – Etisalat UAE

The Visitor Line Data Packages are data-only plans with social media data allowances (BOTIM, C'ME, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat, & WhatsApp) for the Visitor Line.

Visitor Line Data Packages can be bought by dialing *170*1# or *101#:

PriceDataSocial Media Data 1Validity
47.61 AED1 GBN/A7 days
100 AED1 GB1 GB30 days
150 AED3 GB2 GB30 days
200 AED5 GB3 GB30 days
250 AED7 GB4 GB30 days
300 AED10 GB5 GB30 days
450 AED20 GB10 GB30 days
500 AED25 GB15 GB30 days

1 BOTIM (chat only), C'ME (chat only), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat, & WhatsApp

Social Network Package/Social Data Plan – Etisalat UAE

The Social Network Package/Social Data Plan is a 1 GB data bundle for Facebook, LinkedIn & WhatsApp, costing 49 AED valid for 30 days. It can be activated by dialing *170#.

PriceSocial Media Data 1ValidityActivation Code
49 AED1 GB 230 days*170#

1 Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & WhatsApp
2 1 GB high-speed data. Then unlimited data at 64 Kbps

Social Network Package/Social Data Plan auto-renews. To disable auto-renewal, dial *170# or *101#.

Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Social Data) – Etisalat UAE

The Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Social Data) is a data-only plan for various social media apps (BOTIM, C'ME, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, GoChat Messenger, HiU Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Voico, WeChat, & WhatsApp).

Everyday Data Packs for Prepaid (Social Data) can be activated by dialing *101#:

Price (with VAT)Social Media Data 1Validity
2.50 AED150 MB1 day
4 AED250 MB1 day
15 AED150 MB/day (1.05 GB)7 days
25 AED250 MB/day (1.75 GB)7 days
42 AED150 MB/day (4.2 GB)28 days
63 AED250 MB/day (1.75 GB)28 days

1 BOTIM (chat only), C'ME (chat only), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, GoChat Messenger (chat only), HiU Messenger (chat only), Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Voico (chat only), WeChat, & WhatsApp

Flexi Minutes & SMS Countries – Etisalat UAE

Your Flexi Minutes and SMS can be used to call and the following countries:

APN/Internet Settings – Etisalat UAE

  • Name: Etisalat Internet
  • APN: etisalat.ae

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to Table of Contents.


Du UAE

Du Logo New
© Du

Du is the other mobile network operator in the United Arab Emirates.

It is mostly popular among the migrant worker community because it used to target that target group initially.

Now, it is just the other option in the country.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

Du uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G NR: 800 MHz (Band 20) & 1800 MHz (Band 3)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)

This is what you will learn about Du:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Du SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Du UAE

Du has excellent coverage throughout the United Arab Emirates.

Do note that coverage may be lacking in deserts.

Below is Du's 5G NR coverage map:

Here we have a full coverage map:

SIM Card Price – Du UAE

You can buy a Du SIM card for 55 AED (57.75 AED with VAT) in Du stores.

It is also possible to get Etisalat SIM cards at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport & Sharjah International Airport.

It is also possible to get a Du eSIM for the same price as a regular SIM card.

However, if you transfer from a standard SIM card to an eSIM, the upgrade fee is 20 AED.

To use a Du eSIM, you need to have one of the following devices:

  • iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS/XS Max/XR

Dial *135# to access the Du menu.

Short-term visitors can also take advantage of the Du Visitor SIM.

Prior to the pandemic, Du handed out SIM cards for free with some credit and 20 MB of data.

However, it is unknown whether Du still does this or not. Let me know.

The Visitor SIM is sold in the following variants:

Price (with VAT)DataFlexi MinutesUAE WIFIValidity
55 AED500 MB20 minutesN/A7 days
75 AED2 GB40 minutesN/A14 days
110 AED3.5 GB50 minutes1 GB14 days

Although the validities of the plans are valid for up to 14 days, the Visitor SIM is valid for 90 days.

It can be extended for another 90 days by dialing *135#.

Only Visitor SIM plans, the ones mentioned earlier, can be added to Visitor SIMs.

No opt-in is required if you want to renew a plan.

Simply recharge to the corresponding amount, and the plan will automatically be activated.

Du SIM cards (not Du Visitor SIMs) get deactivated if there has been no activity for 6 months (no top-up for 6 months or no activity for 6 months).

However, your phone number will be retained for 12 months in case it has been deactivated.

Afterward, the phone number may be recycled by Du.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Du UAE

Du top-up vouchers are sold in Du stores and many other establishments, such as kiosks, gas stations, and grocery stores.

To top up your Du SIM card, dial *135*VoucherCode# or dial *101# and follow the instructions.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *135*123456*1#.

You can also tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge online with (select international) debit and credit cards.

However, only Emirates-issued cards are accepted or issued by other GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia & Qatar).

Dial *135*1# to check your Du balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the Du app (Android/iOS/Huawei AppGallery).

Du App
© Du

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Du UAE

Du has three data-featured plans:

Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.

Prepaid Flexi – Du UAE

With Prepaid Flexi, you can customize your plan by setting how much data and how many minutes you want for 28 days.

However, all plans need a minimum of 2 GB of data and 30 minutes (49 AED).

Prepaid Flexi can be set up by dialing *135#:

Data/Minutes2 GB4 GB6 GB
30 minutes49 AED79 AED99 AED
60 minutes59 AED89 AED109 AED
90 minutes69 AED99 AED119 AED
Add-Ons – Du UAE

The add-ons are data add-ons. They cannot be purchased as standalone plans.

Add-ons can be purchased by dialing *135#:

Price (with VAT)DataValidity
3 AED100 MB24 hours
30 AED500 MB28 days
50 AEDUnlimited 130 days
55 AED1 GB28 days
110 AED3 GB28 days

1 first 155 MB @ 192 Kbps. Unlimited @ 72 Kbps thereafter

Internet Calling Pack – Du UAE

The Internet Calling Packs allow you to make VoIP calls with BOTIM, C'ME, HiU Messenger & Voico.

The following Internet Calling Packs are available:

Price (with VAT)IC Data 2Activation CodeValidity
5.25 AED1 GBICP1 day
52.50 AEDUnlimitedDICP30 days 1

1 auto-renews. To stop auto-renewal, text Stop Netcall to 1355
2 BOTIM, C'ME, HiU Messenger & Voico

Flexi Minutes Countries – Du UAE

Your Flexi Minutes can be used to call the following countries:

APN/Internet Settings – Du UAE

  • Name: Du Mobile
  • APN: du

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to Table of Contents.


Swyp UAE

Swyp Logo
© Swyp UAE

Swyp UAE, not to be confused with the other Swyp app, is the youth brand by Etisalat targeting 18- to 29-year-olds – anyone 30 years or older cannot get a Swyp SIM card.

Swyp also uses the Etisalat network.

To learn about Swyp's frequencies, jump back to Etisalat's frequencies.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

This is what you will learn about Swyp:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Swyp SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Swyp UAE

Swyp is an Etisalat MVNO, meaning Swyp uses the Etisalat network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure.

To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Swyp, jump to the Etisalat Coverage section.

SIM Card Price – Swyp UAE

Swyp SIM cards are sold together with its main plan, called The Core, for 99 AED (103.95 AED with VAT) in Etisalat stores and partner stores (Burjuman, Burj Dubai, City Centre, City Mall, Deira, Downtown, Dubai Mall, Festival, Ibn Battuta, Mall Mall of the Emirates & Mercato Shopping Mall).

The Core includes 1 GB of data, “unlimited” social media data for select apps (including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat & WhatsApp – 3 GB at full speed, then throttled), unlimited UAE WIFI data, and 120 Flexi Minutes (to about 100 countries).

Swyp Membership
Swyp Social Media Apps (WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter & Google Maps)
© Swyp UAE

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Swyp UAE

Swyp SIM cards can be recharged with Etisalat top-up vouchers or the Swyp app (Android/iOS).

Swyp UAE App
© Swyp UAE

The following top-up options (recharge cards & eVouchers) are available:

  • 25 AED
  • 50 AED
  • 100 AED
  • 200 AED
  • 500 AED

To top up your Swyp SIM card with Etisalat top-up vouchers, dial *120*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *120*123456*1#.

You can also tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

Your balance can be checked on the Swyp app.

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Swyp UAE

The Core is the only plan you can get with Swyp. However, add-ons can be purchased to boost your allowances.

The following add-ons are available:

PriceDataLocal MinutesFlexi Minutes
25 AEDN/AN/A100 minutes
25 AEDN/A200 minutesN/A
25 AED500 MBN/AN/A
25 AED1 GB 1N/AN/A
50 AEDN/AN/A240 minutes
50 AED1 GBN/AN/A
100 AED2 GB N/AN/A
150 AED4 GB N/AN/A

1 for Instagram & Snapchat only

Your Flexi Minutes can be used to call the following countries:

APN/Internet Settings – Swyp UAE

  • Name: Swyp
  • APN: etisalat.ae

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.


Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin Mobile Logo New
© Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile UAE, just Virgin Mobile, is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) using the Du network. It is actually owned by Du.

Virgin Mobile, as a brand, is active in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East & South America.

To learn about Virgin Mobile's frequencies, jump back to Du's frequencies.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it on YouTube.

This is what you will learn about Virgin Mobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Virgin Mobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin Mobile is a Du MVNO, meaning Virgin Mobile uses the Du network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure.

To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Virgin Mobile, jump to the Du Coverage section.

SIM Card Price – Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin Mobile SIM cards are free in Virgin Mobile stores and partner stores, but they are sold together with a plan, meaning you have to spend at least 36.75 AED (with VAT) to get a Virgin Mobile SIM card.

Virgin Mobile UAE SIM Card 3
© Virgin Mobile UAE

It is also possible to get Virgin Mobile SIM cards at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport & Sharjah Airport.

You can also get a Virgin Mobile SIM card delivered within 60 minutes for free in all Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah & Umm Al Quwain).

Virgin Mobile UAE SIM Card
© Virgin Mobile UAE

However, results have been mixed for short-term travelers, as you mostly need an Emirates ID to confirm your identity upon delivery.

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Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin Mobile top-up vouchers are sold in Virgin Mobile stores and partner stores. However, you are encouraged to use the Virgin Mobile UAE app (Android/iOS) for everything, including recharging.

Virgin Mobile UAE App
© Virgin Mobile UAE

The following top-up options are available:

  • 20 AED
  • 50 AED
  • 100 AED
  • 200 AED

To top up your Virgin Mobile SIM card, dial *149*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *149*123456#.

You can also tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

Your balance can be checked on the Virgin Mobile UAE app.

Virgin Mobile UAE SIM Card 2
© Virgin Mobile UAE

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin Mobile has three data-featured plans:

All Virgin Mobile plans can be activated on the Virgin Mobile UAE app.

Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.

Pre-Made Plans – Virgin Mobile UAE

The Pre-Made plans are bundles made by Virgin Mobile for those who do not want to build their own plan or want to see what there is to offer.

The following Pre-Made Plans are available:

Price (with VAT)DataLocal Minutes/SMSValidity
36.75 AED0.5 GB25 minutes/SMS30 days
52.50 AED0.75 GB50 minutes/SMS 30 days
Build Your Plan – Virgin Mobile UAE

With Build Your Own Plan, you can set how much data, local minutes/SMS, and international minutes/SMS you want.

Note that every plan needs at least 2 GB and 50 local minutes/SMS, meaning that the plan's minimal price is 79 AED.

And each plan is valid for 28 days.

Virgin Mobile UAE Plans
Build Your Plan (Data) – Virgin Mobile UAE

The data options for Build Your Plan start from 2 GB (79 AED) to 100 GB (1000 AED).

You need at least 2 GB to activate Build Your Plan.

Below are your options:

PriceData
79 AED2 GB
119 AED4 GB
162 AED7 GB
250 AED15 GB
322 AED22 GB
382 AED28 GB
607 AED50 GB
807 AED75 GB
1000 AED100 GB
Build Your Plan (Local Minutes/SMS) – Virgin Mobile UAE

The local minutes/SMS options for Build Your Plan start from 50 local minutes/SMS (79 AED) to unlimited local minutes/SMS (225 AED).

The local minutes/SMS allowances are combined, not separate.

You need at least 50 minutes/SMS to activate Build Your Plan.

Below are your options:

PriceLocal Minutes/SMS
79 AED50 minutes/SMS
86 AED100 minutes/SMS
100 AED200 minutes/SMS
114 AED300 minutes/SMS
130 AED500 minutes/SMS
178 AED750 minutes/SMS
225 AEDUnlimited
Build Your Plan (International Minutes/SMS) – Virgin Mobile UAE

The international minutes/SMS options for Build Your Plan start from 50 local minutes/SMS (88 AED) to 1000 international minutes/SMS (430 AED).

The international minutes/SMS allowances are combined, not separate – and they are optional.

Below are your options:

PriceInternational Minutes/SMS
88 AED50 minutes/SMS
105 AED100 minutes/SMS
140 AED200 minutes/SMS
165 AED300 minutes/SMS
230 AED500 minutes/SMS
430 AED1000 minutes/SMS

Your international minutes/SMS can be used to call the following countries:

Boosters – Virgin Mobile UAE

The Boosters are data, local minutes, and international minutes add-ons. They cannot be purchased as standalone plans.

Data Boosters – Virgin Mobile UAE

The Data Boosters are data add-ons starting from 256 MB (15.75 AED) to 50 GB (210 AED).

Below are your options:

Price (with VAT)Data
15.75 AED256 MB
26.25 AED512 MB
52.50 AED2 GB
105 AED10 GB
157.50 AED25 GB
210 AED50 GB
Local Minutes Boosters – Virgin Mobile UAE

The Local Minutes Boosters are international call add-ons starting from 50 local minutes (15.75 AED with VAT) to 200 local minutes (52.50 AED with VAT).

Below are your options:

Price (with VAT)Local Minutes
15.75 AED50 minutes
26.25 AED100 minutes
52.50 AED200 minutes
International Minutes Boosters – Virgin Mobile UAE

The International Minutes Boosters are international call add-ons starting from 25 international minutes (15.75 AED with VAT) to 100 international minutes (52.50 AED with VAT).

Below are your options:

Price (with VAT)International Minutes
15.75 AED25 minutes
26.25 AED50 minutes
52.50 AED100 minutes

APN/Internet Settings – Virgin Mobile UAE

  • Name: Virgin Mobile Data
  • APN: internet1
  • MCC: 424
  • MNC: 03

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.


Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the United Arab Emirates

I would highly encourage anyone visiting United Arab Emirates to get themselves an Emirati SIM card – you will be saving a lot of money when you do so.

However, for some, getting an Emirati SIM card is not an option. For example, your device may be SIM-locked, meaning that you cannot use any other SIM card other than the SIM card provided by your operator.

There are other ways to stay online while in the United Arab Emirates, but they may not be cheap.

However, these methods may be more expensive than getting a SIM card from the local operators.

International Roaming

International roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling in other countries because you do not have to buy a new SIM card, have to deal with SIM card registration regulations, nor have multiple phone numbers to deal with.

However, international roaming has proven to be expensive in many cases, especially compared to buying local SIM cards. That is why many travelers are not fond of international roaming.

International roaming has its pros and cons. However, it is important to know how it works. This in-depth guide explains it all.

Find out whether your mobile operator has attractive roaming rates for the United Arab Emirates here.

Using an International SIM Card or Travel SIM Card

International SIM cards are SIM cards made for the traveler in mind. Using them is often cheaper than international roaming. However, they are almost always more expensive than using a local SIM card.

There are many other advantages and disadvantages of getting international SIM cards, which you can learn about here.

Using a Mobile Hotspot (Pocket WIFI)

Mobile hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are small devices that connect to the local operators of the country you are visiting.

Mobile hotspots are ideal for families or those traveling in a large group, as they allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without the need of each traveler having to buy a SIM card.

You can either buy a mobile hotspot or rent one.

Using Free WIFI Networks

Using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to stay connected because they are free.

The major downside of trying to use WIFI hotspots is that you will have to locate them, and they are not available on every corner in the United Arab Emirates.

Make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN so that hackers cannot steal your personal data.


The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in United Arab Emirates

Getting a SIM card from Etisalat or Du would do you well when considering an Emirati SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other Middle Eastern Countries

Visiting other countries in the Middle East? Check out my Middle Eastern SIM card buying guide, covering other Middle Eastern countries, such as:

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.


Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

Support Phone Travel Wiz

It takes a lot of time to analyze, translate, and review the SIM card options worldwide (especially to test them out).

Your support helps me keep producing impartial content by eliminating the need to recommend international SIM cards as the best local SIM card (but some of them CAN be useful)

Every Ko-Fi donation, one-time or monthly, helps me to spend more time creating local SIM card buying guides.

Check Out My Resource Page

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel!

Save money with international SIM cards, on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation.

Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling

Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling?

In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services, and products I have for this site and my YouTube channel.

If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cards, international SIM cards, mobile hotspots, or roam internationally.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks

I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!

Sign Up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter

Sign up for my newsletter: Get an excel sheet of the best SIM cards of over 230+ destinations around the world! Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on how to save money while traveling every now and then.

Let's Be Social

Did you know that I have a YouTube channel covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone? A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!

Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is

Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!