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Stay in Touch: Mobile in Dubai

Do you want to share your impressions with friends during your vacation, post photos on social networks, or build online routes? For many tourists, mobile communications and the Internet are indispensable tools.  They are also very important for digital nomads who choose Dubai to work from abroad.

In Dubai, free Wi-Fi is available at most hotels, public areas, and popular tourist attractions. But if you want to stay in touch all the time, you will need to purchase a SIM card from a local operator. Thus, you will be able to receive calls from relatives and friends without roaming costs, book tables in a restaurant, and book excursions.

Dubai is an expensive city. This applies to all spheres of life, including mobile communications and the Internet. Everything will be expensive, from coffee to communication and other trifles. You will almost never find unlimited tariff plans, but will certainly face a lot of restrictions.

Regardless of where you flew in, at the airport exit after collecting your luggage, you will be met by car rental kiosks, and after them there will be shops selling SIM cards. Without a doubt, renting a car is the most convenient way to get around. Luxury SUV rental is suitable for lovers of space and trips on displaced roads. By contacting a reliable rental agency and renting a car, you can move around without unnecessary stops and at a pace that suits you.

Mobile communications and internet connections in Dubai remain among the most expensive in the world. Most of the country’s residents are active Internet users, however, only two providers are actually represented on the telecommunications market. This limits the choice of tariffs and allows mobile operators to raise prices for both regular users and tourists. Paying careful attention to the choice of the tariff plan will allow you to avoid wasting money.

There are two mobile operators in the UAE: Etisalat and du. The first one has the best coverage, offers Wi-Fi in many hotels and public places, which you can connect to using your SIM card number.

It is not difficult to get a SIM. Adult tourists visiting Dubai can get a free travel SIM card from du. Passengers who arrived in Dubai on a tourist or transit visa, those who were issued a visa on arrival, as well as citizens of the Gulf countries, are issued SIM cards at the migration control at the terminals of Dubai International Airport.

The price of mobile communications in Dubai will largely depend on the category of user. There are different programs for tourists and local residents, and SIM cards for temporary use are expensive. In addition, an unpleasant surprise awaits tourists: you can’t call Skype and other popular instant messengers from the UAE, as audio and video calls are prohibited here. To contact relatives, you will have to use either a traditional mobile phone call or chat in social networks and instant messengers.

Some countries require the use of a VPN to access certain resources. However, in Dubai, it will not be superfluous. Voice and video calls will not work in familiar messengers, as the state considers them harmful and cannot control them. Almost all VoIP services are banned, only Apple’s FaceTime works.

Since mobile networks, as well as Wi-Fi, are controlled by the same companies and use the same infrastructure, restrictions apply, including in hotels and public places. To bypass them, it is better to use a VPN client, which must be installed before you arrive in the country.

A few words about fines and harsh laws. In the Emirates, for a proven fact of access or dissemination of information that is considered prohibited, a fine can reach up to two million dirhams. It’s about half a million dollars. It is clear that it will be difficult for a tourist to face this, but it’s definitely not worth joking about some political topics on local resources, especially from a local connection. You may receive a small fine, which you will have to pay.

There are many free Wi-Fi points in Dubai, and exactly the same restrictions apply as described above. In touristy, public places, you can find access points. All operators have their own Wi-Fi networks, but to access them you need a SIM card from such an operator (an SMS with a password will be sent to it). The use of Wi-Fi in this case is free.

The choice of an operator for communication depends solely on you and whether you need a home number or not. Communication in Dubai is expensive, so buying a SIM card for a few days is not worth it. If you are looking for a long stay in an Emirates city, then you cannot do without a local SIM card.

Before purchasing, you should study the information properly and consider what is best for you. The easiest way is to buy a SIM card upon arrival at the airport (immediately at the exit, not at the baggage area). You can also download travel eSIM cards, there are many for different countries of the world, but their rates are almost always higher than those of local operators, so the purchase looks dubious. Where they beckon with low prices, the output has one or another flaw, and there are always pitfalls.

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