SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE

SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE

Discover all you need to know about SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE on our dedicated information portal. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the mobile landscape effortlessly. Learn about available providers, and how to set up your phone for seamless connectivity. Stay connected and informed with our valuable resources. Explore the UAE’s mobile world with confidence.

Mobile phones in the United Arab Emirates are user-friendly, hassle-free to configure, and offer a wide range of pricing options. Here, we provide comprehensive guidance on the essential aspects.

In today’s world, most individuals wouldn’t contemplate using local public transportation or relocating to another country without their trusty mobile device. For many, it ranks high on their priority list. Fortunately, expatriates contemplating a move to the United Arab Emirates can rest assured that staying connected with loved ones both near and far is a seamless experience, as your phone will seamlessly function upon your arrival.

From selecting a service provider and assessing expenses and network coverage to acquiring SIM cards in the UAE, we will guide you through the fundamental steps for setting up your mobile phone. This informational guide encompasses the following details:

SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE

The mobile network in the United Arab Emirates.

There are two primary categories of phone systems used worldwide: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). In the United Arab Emirates, as in most parts of the world, the GSM system is the standard. Therefore, it’s important to verify if your phone is compatible with GSM if you intend to use it in the UAE.

It’s worth noting that some US carriers, such as Sprint and Verizon, exclusively utilize CDMA technology. Fortunately, within the populated areas of the UAE, you can access 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. Additionally, the 5G network is rapidly expanding and already available in many parts of Dubai. To check the network coverage in detail, you can click here to view a coverage map.

Wireless internet connectivity in the United Arab Emirates.

Wi-Fi is readily accessible across the UAE, with establishments such as businesses, hotels, and restaurants offering this service. Remarkably, in various areas of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, you can enjoy free public Wi-Fi at numerous locations, including select taxis and public transport options. To explore the coverage areas for free Wi-Fi, you can refer to the coverage map. Additionally, Dubai boasts an innovative feature known as LiFi, where you can even access Wi-Fi connectivity from specific street lamps, akin to something straight out of a science fiction novel.

Like SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE, you may also like to know about Telecommunication Services in UAE. 

Are expatriates allowed to use their personal mobile phones in the UAE?

You can utilize your own mobile phone in the UAE as long as it is GSM-compatible and unlocked, meaning it is not tied to a specific carrier. This flexibility enables you to easily insert a new SIM card and use your phone with the new network. Consequently, obtaining a SIM card in the UAE is a straightforward process with an unlocked phone. It’s important to note that if you leave the UAE and continue to use your Emirati SIM card, roaming fees may apply, which can vary depending on your carrier and the destination of your travel.

Mobile network providers in the United Arab Emirates

There are two prominent network operators in the United Arab Emirates: du, headquartered in Dubai, and Etisalat, headquartered in Abu Dhabi. Both providers offer extensive coverage across the UAE, with Etisalat being the older of the two, while du has been in operation for a little over a decade.

Emerging virtual networks.

Lately, the parent companies of both these providers have introduced their virtual networks aimed at catering to the younger demographic. Du initiated the Virgin Mobile app, which streamlines all procedures, from number selection to SIM card registration, via the app. Etisalat promptly responded with its introduction of Swyp, which offers a similar set of services on their virtual network.

Whether you’re in search of a prepaid or monthly plan, there’s an option to suit your preferences. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that network coverage may vary, so it’s advisable to seek input from your acquaintances and neighbors regarding which carrier offers better network performance based on their specific needs and location.

Prepaid vs. Mobile Agreements in the United Arab Emirates

A significant majority of mobile phone users in the UAE, approximately 82%, prefer prepaid services, where they pay for their mobile usage in advance, rather than opting for a traditional contract. If you have recently relocated to the Emirates, it is advisable to opt for a prepaid plan. This will enable you to gauge the network coverage and gain a clearer understanding of your specific usage requirements, including data, minutes, texts, and international calling.

Both prepaid and contract options provide a wide range of add-ons, giving you the flexibility to tailor your plan to match your individual needs and budget constraints.

The advantages and disadvantages of mobile phone contracts.

Mobile phone contracts typically entail a commitment of either one or two years and may involve a AED 100 fee for terminating the contract prematurely. While contracts offer additional features and services at a lower cost, they come with the drawback of early termination fees. It’s crucial to carefully assess your requirements before making a decision. For a convenient plan comparison, you can refer to this article.

Obtaining a mobile phone contract in the United Arab Emirates

The process of acquiring a mobile phone contract in the United Arab Emirates may vary depending on the service provider. Typically, you may need various documents, such as a GCC-issued debit or credit card, your Emirates ID, and your employment contract. You can complete the entire application online with some UAE providers, and they may even offer free SIM card delivery within an hour. Alternatively, you can visit a provider’s store or a mall kiosk to initiate the process. The procedure is straightforward and efficient. For specific plan requirements, you can also consult the official websites of du and Etisalat.

Prepaid SIM cards in the United Arab Emirates.

Acquiring a prepaid SIM card in the UAE is incredibly simple. All you’ll need is your passport and a method of payment. Conveniently, you’ll find provider kiosks at the airport arrivals area in various Emirates, where personnel can assist you in obtaining a SIM card, selecting the ideal plan to meet your texting, calling, and data requirements, and helping with the setup process. If you have your unlocked phone on hand, you can insert the SIM card and begin using it right away. To recharge your balance, you can use your provider’s website or app, or visit grocery stores, businesses, and mall kiosks that offer cell provider cards.

Mobile phones in the United Arab Emirates

Mobile phones are highly prevalent in the UAE, with a striking ratio of 228 phones for every 100 people. It’s as though each individual possesses two phones. Notably, the UAE boasts the highest smartphone adoption rate globally, with 82.2% of its population using smartphones.

Smartphones in the United Arab Emirates

In 2017, the UAE witnessed significant popularity for smartphone models such as the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus. Nevertheless, when considering the broader market, Samsung emerged as the dominant player, accounting for over 34% of mobile phones, followed by Nokia at nearly 23%, and Apple at 15.5%.

Within the UAE, individuals often opt for acquiring new smartphones, facilitated by options for extended payment plans. These phones are typically obtained through various channels, including mall kiosks, network providers, and specialized cell phone shops.

SIM cards and mobile phones in UAE

Mobile phone numbers in the United Arab Emirates

When making calls within the UAE, the initial digits you dial depend on whether you are calling a landline or a mobile phone. Landline phone numbers vary by Emirate and commence with the following prefixes: 04 (Dubai), 02 (Abu Dhabi), 06 (Ajman), 06 (Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain), 07 (Ras al-Khaimah), and 09 (Fujairah).

Mobile phone numbers, on the other hand, start with specific prefixes based on your carrier: 050, 054, and 056 belong to Etisalat, while 052, 055, and 058 are associated with Du. To call a UAE number from outside the country, dial +971, omit the initial 0, and proceed to dial the respective number.

Mobile phone repair services in the United Arab Emirates.

Mobile phone repair is a flourishing industry in the UAE, with repair shops located across the Emirates, both in physical stores and online. Due to the abundance of options, selecting a reliable repair service can be challenging. It’s advisable to seek recommendations from your acquaintances and neighbors. When searching for a repair shop, inquire whether they have prior experience working on your specific phone model and whether they offer warranties for their repair services.

Regulations pertaining to mobile phones in the United Arab Emirates.

Traffic regulations in the United Arab Emirates strictly forbid drivers from taking photos, texting, or engaging in activities like applying make-up while driving, and violations can result in substantial fines. Emirati culture places significant importance on privacy and respect, so it’s essential to be mindful of the following actions to avoid potential fines, legal consequences, or even deportation:

  1. Filming or photographing individuals without their explicit permission.
  2. Sharing photos or videos of other individuals without obtaining their consent.
  3. Photographing specific military, government, or political structures and buildings.

What if you don’t have a mobile phone in the UAE?

If you do not have a mobile phone, you may encounter difficulties in locating public payphones in the UAE. The widespread adoption of cell phones has led to the neglect and lack of maintenance of many payphones. Nonetheless, numerous businesses offer access to landlines, which you can request to use. Additionally, you have the option to subscribe to a landline service for your residence through one of the network providers.