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Best Tourist Sim Cards in United Arab Emirates in 2024

Choosing a sim card is hard. We've analysed the best tourist sim cards in United Arab Emirates across pricing, coverage and data. Find out the best pick!

If you’re planning a visit to the United Arab Emirates, having a sim card is essential for easy navigation and staying connected while traveling. With internet access, you can easily find the best restaurants, get directions to your accommodation, book a taxi, and share photos with your family on the go.

While roaming is an option, the international fees can quickly add up, so we always recommend either getting an eSIM or a local sim card to enjoy local phone rates. Luckily, obtaining either option in the United Arab Emirates is incredibly convenient, but it’s important to know which one is the best choice for you.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to purchase a sim card in the United Arab Emirates, including up-to-date pricing and the ultimate sim card recommendation.

Table of Contents

Best Sim Card in United Arab Emirates for Tourists

The best sim card in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the Prepaid Visitor Line. This is a set of 4 prepaid tourist sim packages and which one you pick depends on your trip.

For most people visiting UAE, the Prepaid Visitor Line + for 79 AED is plenty. It comes with 4GB data and 30 minutes calling. If you’re just visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a few days then 4GB of data is more than enough.

If you are visiting for longer then you may want to consider the larger packages. For 124 AED you will get 8GB data, or for 200 AED you will get 22.5GB data both valid for 30 days. Typically you will have no option other than to buy one of the mobile network operators’ official ‘tourist’ sim cards.

For short stopovers I always recommend travellers visiting UAE or Dubai to pick up an Airalo UAE eSim over a local sim card. It comes with small amounts of data but the convenience of not spending your time visiting a store makes it well worth it. Here are the prices:

1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $8.50 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $22.50 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $35 USD

Etisalat has the fastest and most extensive network in the United Arab Emirates and conveniently it is the same network Airalo uses so either way you go you will be connected across the country.

United Arab Emirates Sim Card Prices

A Tourist Sim Card in United Arab Emirates costs 79 AED in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.

Alternatively, an eSim in United Arab Emirates will cost between $8.50 USD and $35. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.

I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting United Arab Emirates which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $22.50 USD.

United Arab Emirates Sim Card Providers

In the United Arab Emirates, there are three major SIM card providers that cater to the communication needs of its residents and visitors: Etisalat, du, and Virgin Mobile.

Etisalat, the first telecommunications company in the UAE, offers a wide range of mobile plans and services. Its network coverage is extensive, reaching most parts of the country, making it a popular choice among users.

du, the second-largest provider, also offers competitive mobile plans and packages. With a focus on customer service and innovation, du has gained a significant market share and provides reliable network coverage throughout the UAE.

Virgin Mobile, a relatively new entrant to the UAE market, operates as a digital-only provider. Offering flexible and affordable plans, Virgin Mobile appeals to tech-savvy individuals who prefer managing their services through mobile apps.

Overall, these three providers offer reliable network coverage and a variety of plans to suit the diverse needs of customers in the United Arab Emirates.

Etisalat Tourist Sim

Etisalat, the leading telecommunications company in the United Arab Emirates, offers convenient tourist sim cards catering to the needs of travelers. These sim cards provide seamless connectivity with fast internet speeds, unlimited calls and texts, and ample data allowances. With extensive coverage across the UAE, tourists can stay connected and enjoy uninterrupted communication during their visit. Etisalat’s tourist sim card packages are designed to enhance the travel experience and provide reliable communication for tourists exploring the UAE’s vibrant cities and stunning landscapes.

Etisalat United Arab Emirates Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Etisalat tourist sim card in United Arab Emirates is 79 AED.

The plan offered by Etisalat stores includes 4GB data valid for 28 days.

Du Tourist Sim

Du is a leading telecommunications provider in the United Arab Emirates that offers excellent tourist sim cards. With reliable coverage across the country, Du allows tourists to stay connected effortlessly during their UAE visit. Their sim cards provide ample data and call minutes at affordable rates, ensuring tourists can easily access maps, communicate with loved ones, and explore all the wonders the UAE has to offer without any hassle. Experience hassle-free connectivity and communication with Du’s tourist sim cards.

Du United Arab Emirates Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Du tourist sim card in United Arab Emirates is 199 AED.

The plan offered by Du stores offers unlimited data + 100 minutes valid for 7 days.

Virgin Mobile Tourist Sim

Virgin Mobile is a popular telecom provider in the United Arab Emirates. They offer convenient tourist sim card options for travelers visiting the country. These sim cards provide tourists with affordable data, voice, and text services. With easy activation and competitive rates, Virgin Mobile ensures seamless connectivity during tourists’ stay. Their extensive coverage across the UAE ensures tourists can stay connected and explore the country without any hassle.

Virgin Mobile United Arab Emirates Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Virgin Mobile tourist sim card in United Arab Emirates is 143 AED.

The plan offered by Virgin Mobile stores includes 21GB data (limited to 3GB per day) + 30 minutes calls valid for 7 days.

How to Get a Sim Card in United Arab Emirates

Identify mobile providers: Etisalat, Du and Virgin Mobile are your best options in United Arab Emirates.

Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.

Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.

Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.

Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.

Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.

Where to Get a Sim Card in United Arab Emirates

At the Airport

Buying a prepaid sim card for United Arab Emirates at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.

However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.

In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.

If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in United Arab Emirates then you will be in luck. All major international airports in United Arab Emirates have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.

In Stores

If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.

I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as Etisalat, Du and Virgin Mobile. Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in United Arab Emirates are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.

Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.

Online

If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in United Arab Emirates with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.

The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.

The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!

United Arab Emirates eSim

An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.

We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to United Arab Emirates. The Airalo United Arab Emirates eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.

In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $22.50 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in United Arab Emirates without having to venture outside.

Airalo United Arab Emirates

Our preferred eSim provider in United Arab Emirates is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to United Arab Emirates and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.

Airalo’s United Arab Emirates eSim uses the Etisalat network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Etisalat networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in United Arab Emirates.

Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s United Arab Emirates eSim:

1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $8.50 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $22.50 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $35 USD

For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $22.50 USD which is valid for 30 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.

Holafly United Arab Emirates

An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.

Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s United Arab Emirates eSims offer unlimited data.

Holafly’s United Arab Emirates eSim uses the Etisalat Mobilenetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in United Arab Emirates

Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s United Arab Emirates eSim:

6GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $44 USD

What is an eSim?

An eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM, is a digital replacement for physical SIM cards found in devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Instead of needing to physically insert or remove a SIM card, the eSIM is built into the device’s hardware.

To use an eSIM, it can be remotely activated and programmed by a mobile network operator. This allows users to easily switch between different mobile networks or plans without the hassle of physically swapping SIM cards.

The advantages of eSIM technology include convenience, flexibility, and simplicity, especially for those who often change networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the need to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it more manageable to control multiple mobile connections on a single device.

To activate an eSIM, users typically scan a QR code provided by their mobile network operator or manually enter the activation details. Once activated, the device can connect to the chosen mobile network and access voice, data, and messaging services just like with a traditional SIM card.

Why Use an eSim?

Benefits of using an eSIM:

– Convenience: No need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans, which is especially useful for travelers.

– Dual SIM functionality: Allows for two active mobile numbers on the same device, useful for separating personal and work numbers.

– Space-saving: Eliminates the need for a physical SIM card slot, freeing up space within the device.

– Remote provisioning: Activating and managing mobile plans can be done remotely, without requiring a physical SIM card or store visit.

– Future-proofing: As eSIM technology gains popularity, more networks and providers offer support, allowing users to take advantage of new services and offerings.

eSim Supported Phones

eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:

Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.

Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.

Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.

OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.

Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.

These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.

How to Use an eSim

Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!

Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:

Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.

Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.

Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.

Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.

Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.

Mitchell

Mitchell

Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. I've travelled all around the world, using and testing countless travel sim cards along the way. I'm the founder of and writer for Travel Sim Expert where I write guides to help travellers stay connected all around the world.

Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is. 

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