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Best Dubai SIM Card for Tourists

by Dubai Travel Planner

Dubai Tourist SIMs and eSIMs for the UAE explained

Are you planning on visiting Dubai? If yes, then you’ll probably need a Dubai tourist SIM card!

As well as being a rather insta-famous city, it’s simply put a necessity to have internet when travelling these days; from retrieving travel booking details to ordering taxis and meals while you’re on the go – trust us, there’s an app for everything in Dubai!

Although you’ll get access to a Wi-Fi network in most places in Dubai, what if you’re on the go? That’s when you’ll need a travel SIM in Dubai to make calls, use social media, or use Maps to navigate around the city or call a driver.

For your ease and convenience, we have put together everything you need to know about getting a SIM card in Dubai for tourists, as well as eSIM options you can arrange before your arrival.

You will find detailed information in this article, from the mobile network operators in Dubai to the best SIM card and even how to pre-order a Dubai SIM, so you’re ready to go.

Mobile Operators in the UAE

Getting a Dubai tourist SIM is a pretty straightforward process. However, there are multiple mobile operators in the UAE, so it gets rather confusing for tourists to decide which mobile network SIM they should go for based on the packages offered.

However, there’s no need to worry, as we have simplified everything for you! Below you will find a list of mobile operators in the UAE with information about purchasing their SIM and which operator is the most suitable for you.

1. Du SIM Card in Dubai for Tourists

Du is a mobile operator in UAE, launched in 2007. If you want to get a Du SIM card, you can get one on arrival at the airport or from the Du store.

Du logo

The upside of getting a Du tourist SIM from the immigration counters at the Dubai airport is that you get it for free with 1GB of local data as a welcome bonus. As for the activation, you don’t need to go through extensive steps as the SIM is already activated using your passport information.

To start using the du SIM, you simply have to insert it into your mobile and verify your date of birth via a verification text. Once the verification is complete, you will get 1GB of local data for free, valid for 24 hours.

You can also purchase a Du SIM card from its franchise store across the city. If you just buy the SIM without any package, it will cost around AED 10; however, if you activate a bundle package (starting from AED 49), you’ll get the SIM for free. You’ll just need your passport to get started.

2. Etisalat Dubai Tourist SIM

Etisalat is the 18th largest mobile operator in the world and operates in more than 16 countries. Therefore, we can say that it is one of the best SIM cards for Dubai.

Etisalat logo

You can get an Etisalat SIM from the Dubai airport when you land. And while it does not offer free data, it has plenty of packages.

For instance, it has 3 Visitor Line packages, where you can get a 28-day package including a SIM card, 4GB of data, and 30 Flexi minutes for AED 79.

Similarly, you can get a premium 28-day package for AED 125, which includes a SIM card, 8GB of data, 120 Flexi minutes, and 5 Wi-Fi hours.

And if you’re looking for an unlimited data package, get it for AED 319, including a SIM card, 10 days of unlimited data, and 100 Flexi hours.

Visitor Line packages are valid until your visa; therefore, if you plan on staying in Dubai for good, you can switch to Etisalat’s other pre-paid and post-paid packages.

3. Virgin Mobile Travel SIM in Dubai

Virgin Mobile is a newer mobile operator in UAE by the Virgin Mobile brand (though it is a fully owned subsidiary of Du and uses the same network). It offers special tourist SIM cards with different packages to people visiting Dubai for business or vacations.

You can get the SIM from the airport as soon as you land; however, the tourist SIM is for one-time use. This means you can use it for as long as your package lasts and won’t be able to renew it.

Virgin Mobile logo

Virgin Mobile offers four packages for its Dubai tourist SIM:

  • A 7-day package costs AED 150 with 21GB of data
  • A 10-day package costs AED 200 with 40GB of data
  • A 15-day package costs AED 300 with unlimited data
  • A 30-day package costs AED 500 with unlimited data

SIMs Sold by Third-Party Companies

If you see online tour operators selling you a SIM card, it will be based on services provided by one of the above three networks.

All should have reliable coverage in metropolitan areas. Beyond that, in the mountains and the desert, it’s time to switch off and get yourself an offline map, as the network will be patchy or non-existent no matter whose network you use (they are all ultimately government-owned and share much of their infrastructure).

Airalo eSim

As international travellers, we’ve become big fans of using Airalo eSIMs whenever possible. The eSIM they sell for the UAE is marketed as Burj Mobile(digging beneath the cover, we believe it runs on the Etisalat network)

There are currently three different Burj Mobile packages

  • 1GB valid for 7 Days for $8.50 USD (AED 32)
  • 3GB valid for 30 days for $22.50 USD (AED 82.50)
  • 5GB valid for 30 days for $35 USD (AED 128.50)

NB these are all for data only; if you think you’ll need to make phone calls too, you’re better waiting until arrival and getting a local Dubai SIM with a phone number attached!

Using Airalo is super easy. Once you purchase online, you’ll need to press activate and change any existing eSIMs on your phone to the new eSIM. The clock starts ticking as soon as you land and connect to the network in the UAE.

If you are travelling more widely around the Middle East and just popping in to Dubai briefly, you may also want to look at Airalo’s Middle East option, Menalink, with packages as follows:

  • 1GB valid for 7 Days for $15 USD
  • 2GB valid for 15 days for $28 USD
  • 3GB valid for 30 days for $39 USD

KitMyTrip – Via GetYourGuide

Popular online tour provider Get Your Guide partners with KitMyTrip to deliver several great value tourist bundles to consider – they take all the guesswork of how to sign up for a network; you really have to decide how data-hungry you are!

You’ll need to find their kiosks in arrivals at DXB Terminals 1 and 3 to get your data set up (NB not for arrivals in DXB Terminal 2 or DWC airport).

Do read the fine print if pre-packaged SIM bundles will work for you, only 1 per passport and users must be over 18, so you can’t hand one out to each of the kids. In this instance, families should consider pocket wifi options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Dubai Tourist Sims

What is the Free Tourist SIM?

The free tourist SIM is a free SIM card Du Telecommunications offers to people visiting Dubai. This SIM card can be picked up from the immigration counter at the Dubai airport and is activated using your passport details. It contains 1GB of free local data valid for 24 hours. Once the time is over, you can recharge your SIM with the various tourist packages offered by Du.

Pre-Order Your Tourist SIM or Buy it on Arrival?

We recommend getting a SIM card on arrival in Dubai from the airport. The reason? It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s fast.

Plus, multiple SIM card sellers at the airport make buying it pretty straightforward. You have to provide your passport details, go through the various packages, and get the SIM.

On the other hand, you can also pre-order your SIM card. You have to contact the mobile operator, select a package, and provide your home address in your country. The mobile operator will then mail the SIM card to your address.

However, we won’t recommend this option, as it takes too long, plus you never know when you will receive the SIM via mail. Also, what if it gets lost on the way? And this method isn’t suitable if you make a sudden plan to visit Dubai.

eSIM’s, on the other hand, where you don’t need a physical SIM card to be delivered, could be your easiest option these days. Simply activate it as soon as you land and you’re instantly connected, no need to queue at a counter when you get to DXB.

Which SIM Card is Best value in Dubai for Tourists?

Based on the offers and packages by Du, Etisalat, and Virgin Mobile, the best SIM card for Dubai is Du. Because for starters, it offers a free tourist SIM to the visitors. You can quickly insert it into your mobile and get connected almost instantly.

Etisalat is also a good option, but it is a bit expensive, and its Visitors Line’s validity depends on your visa expiration. However, it is a good option if you’re in Dubai for limited days.

Those wanting convenience and with a compatible device should try the Airalo eSIM – it’s not the cheapest option but super easy for those who only need a little bit of data.

How Can I Get a Tourist SIM in Dubai?

As mentioned earlier, getting a tourist SIM in Dubai is easy. You can either get it from the airport or the mobile network provider’s store. The representative will ask for your passport, take its copy, and register the SIM card in your name.

Getting a Dubai tourist SIM card is not a big deal. It is pretty simple if you know how to go about the process.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

  • Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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