When traveling to the UAE, one question that invariably crosses the minds of both tourists and new residents is: “How to buy SIM cards in UAE?” A reliable and affordable mobile connection is essential for staying connected with loved ones, navigating unfamiliar streets, and accessing essential information during your stay.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the process of acquiring a SIM card in the UAE, providing you with the latest insights and expert advice to ensure you make the right choice for your communication needs.

We will also compare different services including costs, data plans, and other features to help you make an informed choice.

You may also like to read: 2 Best Home Internet Packaged in UAE

How To Buy SIM Cards in UAE? A Quick Overview

UAE is a place like no other. With abundant things to do and see, boredom seldom strikes those who are visiting. But before you take out your phone to post your holiday pictures, know that data roaming charges can rip you off your hard-earned money. The roaming charges on most cellular networks are insane and you shouldn’t be paying a fortune to stay connected with loved ones while you holiday around in the Emirates.

To save money, it’s better to buy a local SIM card or get an e-sim in UAE. Buying a SIM card in the UAE is as simple as it can be. Whether you are a tourist visiting the country for the first time or a new resident ready to start a new chapter of your life in this vibrant community, read on to find the latest updates on buying SIM cards in the UAE to stay connected on the go.

We will provide tips to ensure you get the most value from your chosen prepaid SIM or e-SIM card plan, including staying within your budget while enjoying high-speed data, convenient calling, and uninterrupted texting services.

Can you buy a SIM card in the UAE?

Yes, absolutely. Anyone above the age of 18 years is eligible by law to buy a SIM card in UAE. SIM cards are readily available for purchase from various telecommunications providers and retail stores in the UAE.

Some of the major telecom operators in the UAE include Etisalat and Du. You can visit their stores or authorized resellers to buy a SIM card for your mobile phone.

When purchasing a SIM card in the UAE, you will typically need to provide identification, such as your passport, as part of the registration process, as this is a regulatory requirement.

Once you have your SIM card, you can choose from a variety of prepaid and postpaid plans to suit your needs, including options for voice, text, and data services.

Make sure to inquire about the available plans, data packages, and any specific requirements or regulations for tourists if you are not a resident of the UAE.

What is the cost of buying SIM Cards in UAE?

Well, SIM cards in UAE are relatively pricier than in most of the other countries. You can get yourself a local SIM card in UAE starting from 55 AED. The prices may go up to 99 AED depending on the type of plan and cellular service provider you choose. While this may not sound very cheap it will help you save money that you would otherwise spend on roaming charges.

Local SIM card providers in UAE

In the UAE, there are three major mobile carriers – Etisalat, du, and Virgin Mobile. All three providers offer comprehensive coverage and a range of plans to suit your needs. You may research their offerings and check their network coverage in the specific areas you plan to visit.

Types of SIM Cards

Mobile carriers in the UAE typically offer several types of SIM cards:

  • Prepaid SIM Cards

These allow you to pay upfront for your chosen plan, ensuring that you have full control over your spending. They’re ideal for tourists and can be easily topped up when you run out of credit.

  • Postpaid SIM Cards

These are monthly contracts with fixed plans. They’re often more suitable for residents rather than tourists.

  • Data-Only SIM Cards

If you primarily need data for browsing, maps, and apps, data-only SIM cards can be a cost-effective choice.

Where can you Buy SIM cards in UAE?

Sim Cards in UAE can be bought from any of the three telecom service providers in the country including Etisalat, Du, and Virgin Mobile. You can visit the kiosks in malls or hop over to their stores located across every nook and corner to buy a SIM card on the spot.

Alternatively, you can get a sim card for free when arriving as a tourist at any of the airports in UAE. Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and Sharjah International Airport have kiosks that provide SIM cards free of cost to all travelers arriving in the Emirates on a visit or tourist visa.

You have to provide Visa documents, identity proof, and a passport to be eligible to receive free sim cards for tourists.

Also, make sure that the device you carry into UAE is activated to support foreign SIM cards to avoid any surprises.

Most of the time, phones purchased in Europe, Australia, and Asia are unlocked while those purchased in the USA are locked. Check with your service provider for assistance before your trip to Dubai.

How long do Tourist SIMS cards in UAE stay valid?

Tourist sim cards in UAE have different validity periods depending on your chosen network provider.

For instance, DU provides tourist sim cards that stay valid for 90 days or until you depart the country if your stay is shorter than 90 days.

Etisalat provides visitor sim cards with a validity of 10 and 28 days.

Virgin Mobile offers SIM cards for tourists with a validity period of 7, 10, or 15 days. You can purchase voice or data plans as per your choice and stay connected on the go.

Documents required to buy SIM Cards in UAE

The following documents may be required when purchasing SIM cards in UAE:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid residency or UAE tourist visa
  • Valid identity card or Emirates ID

Please remember that visitors cannot buy more than one SIM card on one passport.

E-Sim Cards in UAE

If you do not want to get local SIM cards in UAE, you can always go for an e-SIM card. An eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that is embedded in a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.

This technology allows users to switch between different mobile carriers or plans without the need to physically insert or replace a traditional physical SIM card.

eSIM cards have become increasingly popular for international travelers because they simplify the process of connecting to local networks and avoid the hassle of buying and swapping physical SIM cards.

There are many options for e-sim cards in UAE and they are priced at pretty competitive rates. Most e-Sims in UAE provide cheap data plans and voice calling packages to facilitate the influx of tourists to the maximum.

Best e-Sim Cards in UAE

While prepaid local sim cards are the most commonly used medium to stay connected when visiting the UAE, e-sims provide a relatively cheaper alternative to traditional sims. You can order one for yourself online from the comfort of your home even before stepping into the Emirates.

It saves tourists from the hassle of visiting stores and swapping SIM cards. A QR code is usually sent in an email to activate the e-sim. You may scan the QR code to get started and communicate with family and friends back home in a simple, fast, and convenient way.

Here is the list of the best e-Sim card providers in UAE that you may consider:

  1. Airalo

Airalo is a global eSIM marketplace that offers eSIM cards for travelers, allowing them to stay connected while roaming internationally without the need to physically swap out traditional SIM cards. Airalo’s primary focus is on providing affordable and convenient eSIM solutions to travelers in various countries, including the UAE.

The company provides fast internet service and seamless voice call and text messaging services at the best affordable rates. You can save yourself from the hassle of buying a physical SIM card in UAE and go online without having to drain your wallet.

Here is an in-depth overview of the Airalo e-Sim card in UAE in case you are interested in getting one for yourself.

  1. SimOptions

SimOptions is another good option if you love using e-Sims when traveling to foreign countries. This particular company provides quality service and competitive data plans in over 141 countries.

The company offers prepaid plans and data-only packages without any sort of roaming charges. You can opt for a calls and text-only plan too if it suits your needs.

For further details, we advise you to visit their official website and get your queries sorted.

  1. Flexiroam

Flexiroam offers eSIM solutions ideal for travelers seeking flexible connectivity. Their eSIMs allow you to switch between networks, ensuring you always have the best coverage.

With eSIMs from Flexiroam, you can access fast and reliable mobile data in the UAE. Their user-friendly app simplifies eSIM activation and management, making it a top choice for travelers on the go.

Flexiroam offers a variety of data plans and packages for making local calls in the UAE. You can subscribe to their local data plan to stay online anywhere you go in the Emirates without having to pay for hefty roaming charges.

We advise you to visit their website for the latest updates on calling plans and local data packages.

  1. Nomad

Nomad is another popular e-sim provider that you can consider when traveling to the UAE. They offer a dedicated UAE e-sim card with attractive deals and packages to facilitate their diverse clientele.

Nomad provides e-sims in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah with 5G technology for fast and uninterrupted data services. They also have some of the best affordable rates for mobile internet service in the UAE.

For further details on costs and packages, we advise you to visit their official platform.

PS: No matter which e-sim you choose to opt for, make sure that the device you intend to use is e-sim compatible and is unlocked for the service to operate properly.

Reasons to Use a Local SIM Cards in UAE

While the UAE provides high-speed internet services across all its malls, metro stations, medical facilities, and airports, you can still benefit a lot by choosing to buy a local SIM card when visiting the country.

Tourists visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can benefit from using a local SIM card for several important reasons:

  • Cost-Effective Data and Call Rates

Using a local UAE SIM card typically offers more affordable data, voice, and text message rates compared to international roaming on your home country’s SIM. This can help you avoid exorbitant roaming charges and save money during your trip.

  • Seamless Local Communication

With a UAE SIM card, you can easily connect with locals, hotels, tour operators, and other essential services without incurring high international calling or messaging fees. This enhances your overall experience and convenience.

  • High-Quality Network Coverage

Local UAE SIM cards in UAE are designed to provide excellent coverage and network speeds, ensuring you have a reliable and uninterrupted connection throughout your stay.

This is particularly important if you need internet access for navigation, translation, or staying in touch with family and friends.

  • Access to Local Services and Apps

Some local services, apps, and promotions may be accessible only with a UAE phone number. Using a local SIM card enables you to take advantage of these offers, such as ride-sharing services, food delivery apps, and exclusive local discounts.

  • Emergency Services

In case of emergencies, having a local SIM card allows you to quickly and easily dial local emergency services. This is especially crucial for your safety and peace of mind while traveling.


In the dynamic landscape of the United Arab Emirates, your choice between local SIM cards and e-SIM cards can significantly impact your travel experience. Local SIM cards offer cost-effective and reliable connectivity, enabling you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and navigate the UAE with ease.

On the other hand, e-SIM technology brings convenience and flexibility to your communication needs, eliminating the need for physical SIM cards. Whether you opt for a traditional local SIM card in UAE or embrace the future with e-sim, stay connected, stay informed, and make the most of your stay in this captivating country.

Also read: 15 Money Saving Tips for Tourists in Dubai


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