Buying the Tourist SIM Cards in UAE – A Honestly Review

Are you travelling to UAE? Before landing in the United Arab Emirates, you should know which SIM card you should buy and where to buy it. Dubai is a trendy city all over the world and rich people from all over the world come here for leisure and business.

After coming here, people find it difficult to choose a SIM card because they have no idea which SIM card will be useful for them and which operator’s packages and plans will be best.

eSIM card is mostly famous in UAE and most people use this SIM card instead of buying a physical sim. The opportunity is that all operators in UAE which are Etisalat Du and Virgin Mobile are offering eSIM card facilities at the airport and within the city too.

In this guide, we will review the best SIM cards available in the UAE for visitors and residents, including a comparison of their services, packages and prices. We will also cover the topic of how to choose the best SIM card for you.

Currently, three types of operators operate in the United Arab Emirates, among which Etisalat is the first, DU is the second, and Virgin Mobile is the third.

First, we will show you the sim card prices in UAE, which are also available at the Airports or in the city at different stores.

Etisalat

Etisalat Logo
  • Free SIM Card Available
  • Best for High-Speed internet
  • Available for Visitors on Passport
  • 1GB Free on Free SIM Card
  • Good 5G Coverage and Speed
  • Available in Airports and the City
  • Plans Starting from AED 49 (USD 13)
  • Covering all areas with high-speed 5G
  • 4G May not be available in some Rural Areas

Du

Du
  • Free SIM Card Available
  • Best for Budget users
  • Available for Visitors on Passport
  • 1GB Free on Free SIM Card
  • Good 4G Coverage and Speed
  • Available in Airports and the City
  • Covering all areas with 4G and 5G Signals
  • 5G May not be available in some Rural Areas
  • Plans Starting from AED 49 (USD 13)

Virgin

Virgin Mobile UAE
  • No Free SIM Card Available (Check Promotions)
  • Best for all-in-one solutions (Comes with Local, Int’l Calls/SMS.
  • Available for Visitors on Passport
  • Include Calls, SMS & Data
  • Good 5G Coverage and Speed
  • Available in Airports and the City
  • Plans Starting from AED 150 (USD 41)
  • 4G everywhere and 5G Coverage (Missing some places)

1. Etisalat Visitor SIM

Etisalat is one of the best telecom operators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that has served since 1976 and has been providing mobile and fixed-line services.

It is the first United Arabian network to launch 5G commercially in 2018. Etisalat offers users mobile phones, the Internet, and many other digital services. Its 5G is very fast, especially in areas where its 4G and 5G coverage is strong.

In the test by Opensignal, Etisalat became the first high-speed 5G network in UAE that recorded 680.7 Mbps download speed.

Etisalat is offering eSIM or physical card (optional) for prepaid, postpaid or visitors line users. If you have an Emirates ID, you can buy more services like Home WIFI, Postpaid, Prepaid (Local SIM card) and much more.

Pricing:

Plan Price Data Calls Validity
Visitor Line Free SIM Free 1GB 24 Hours
Visitor Line AED 49 2GB 30 Minutes Monthly
Visitor Line Plus AED 79 4GB 30 Minutes Monthly
Visitor Line Premium AED 125 8GB 120 Minutes Monthly
Visitor Line Premium + AED 200 12.5GB 525 Minutes Monthly
Visitor Line Unlimited AED 200 Unlimited 100 Minutes 7 Days
Visitor Line Unlimited AED 319 Unlimited 300 Minutes 14 Days
Etisalat Tourist SIM Card Plans are valid for a limited time.

Etisalat visitor SIM card prices start from AED 49 and USD 13 to 15 but free SIM cards are also available. Always check the latest promotions by Etisalat by visiting the Etisalat website or at any nearest store or asking Etisalat staff (At the Airport).

Etisalat Free Visitor SIM:

After buying a free SIM card you get 1GB of data free from Etisalat which is valid for 24 hours. Etisalat Free Visitor SIM card promotion may not last for a few days or may be subject to change.

You can ask Etisalat staff to buy a free SIM card when you are on a budget.

Prepaid visitor SIMs are valid for a certain period after which they need to be recharged and renewed or moved to prepaid.

By the way, the company does not block the SIM card, but if you get a message to block the SIM, you can extend its validity by doing some recharge.

You can activate any package on Etisalat Free SIM. And if you need a bit more data, Etisalat add-ons are available which can be availed through the Etisalat app or by dialling *101#.

Enjoy FREE Wi-fi

  • 1GB to 4GB Data = Validity 4 Hours
  • 4GB & Above = 20 Hours

Etisalat is offering FREE WIFI service to all such customers who will subscribe to a data package above 1GB. Customers will be able to use 1GB data to 4GB data for 5 Hours and 4GB or more data for 20 hours. No need for any subscription, just open the WIFI and select “UAE Wi-Fi by Etisalat” Connect it using the given method:

  • Search for free WIFI “by Etisalat” and connect it
  • Open the web browser and open any website, and you will be redirected to the Etisalat portal
  • First time, Enter your name, mobile number
  • Verify your account by entering the 4 Digit pin
  • Wi-Fi will start working
Etisalat Visitor free wifi service

Etisalat eSIM:

With Etisalat’s e-SIM service, you can get a SIM card instantly and digitally. All such persons who are using physical SIM can avail of e-SIM. eSIM packages and data add-ons are the same as a normal SIM. Many people are not aware of this thing and are looking for Etisalat eSIM packages.

Etisalat’s 5G is available in many places in the UAE, but you will find its 4G services less. It is working very fast to increase the coverage of Etisalat after which it is possible to have full coverage of 4G and 5G in next month everywhere be it villages or cities.

Etisalat Useful USSD codes:

  • Check Balance: Dial *121#
  • Check Data Balance: Dial *170#
  • Know Your Number: Dial *248#
  • Customer Care: Dial 101 or *101#
  • Activate Roaming: Dial *177#
  • Activate Data Plan: Dial *170#
  • Recharge: Dial 120RechargeCardNumber#

2. du

du is the second largest and best telecommunication operator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that has served since 2005 and has been providing mobile and fixed-line services.

DU also launched 5G in the United Arab Arabian in 2018 and offered cheap prices and innovative services, which increased its popularity greatly. Its 4G coverage is expanded and due to this factor, millions of people trust Du.

Du also offers eSIM or physical card (optional) for prepaid, postpaid or visitors line users. If you have an Emirates ID, you can buy more services like Home WIFI, Postpaid, Prepaid (Local SIM card) and much more.

Du tourist sim plans start from USD 13 for 2GB data and 30 Flexi minutes to USD 135 with 400 Flexi minutes and unlimited data valid for 28 days.

FREE SIM Offer:

I visited the United Arab Emirates some time ago, but Du free SIM was not available there and I had to buy a sim card with a plan which cost me AED 10. Although Du has provided free SIM cards for many years and may start offering them again in future.

If you are on a budget, must ask Du to provide you with Free SIM cards. With this, you will get 1GB of free data which will help you to talk with your friends, family and loved ones on social networks like WhatsApp, Facebook IMO etc.

Its free SIMs are rechargeable if you need a package, you can subscribe to it by dialling *135*6# and follow the instructions.

One thing I really like about this network is its coverage map. If you are visiting any area of UAE, be it rural or urban, you will benefit from Du coverage.

du tourist sim

Du has installed its services in every corner of the country, whether it is 3G, 4G, or 5G. This means you can’t disconnect calls and internet at all, which is why users don’t want to leave this network. If you are in UAE for entertainment, I recommend you use this Du.

Prices:

Price Data Flexi Calls Validity
AED 10 1GB 24 Hours
AED 49 2GB 30 Minutes 28 Days
AED 99 6GB 30 Minutes 28 Days
AED 139 10GB 30 Minutes Monthly
AED 189 20GB 30 Minutes Monthly
AED 199 Unlimited 100 Minutes 7 Days
AED 299 Unlimited 200 Minutes 14 Days
AED 499 Unlimited 400 Minutes 28 Days
Du is offering Flexi calling minutes with all plans which can be used for calling local and international calls.

Du Tourist SIM Activation:

You can buy a Du tourist SIM card or eSIM card using your passport and will be activated using the given method:

  • Insert a SIM card into your phone
  • Dial *122# enter your passport number and follow the instructions
  • After verifications, SIM will be activated, and you will receive a confirmation SMS in a while.

Du always sends an SMS to a new SIM registered in their database. The user must reply to this SMS and verify their details to activate the SIM. By default, users have to reply to their date of birth (Year like 1990) when they receive an SMS from 1220.

For example, if the user’s date of birth is 11 January 1990, upon receiving an SMS from 1220 reply with 1990 (Year of Birth). Visitor prepaid SIM is rechargeable which means you can activate many more packages according to your need. Du has a special visitor plan add-on which is given below.

Data Add-On

Data Calls Price Validity
30 Minutes AED 10 7 Days
1GB AED 19 Daily
Unlimited data AED 39 Daily

To buy an add-on dial *055# and follow the instructions. Du users will get many more plans according to their current Tariff plan. To get more Du offers and manage your account dial USSD code *135# and follow the instructions.

Using Du SIM, you can call from Du to other networks within UAE at 38 fils per minute best rate. The Validity of a Du tourist sim card is a maximum of 90 days or until you exit the country. When you buy only a Free Tourist SIM, it will cost AED 10 without any package. Keep remembering that FREE SIM is valid for one time on a passport.

Du Useful USSD Codes for New Users:

Check Balance: Dial *135#
Check Data Balance: Dial *135*2#
Recharge Account: Dial *135*CARD_NUMBER#
Customer Care: Dial 155
Activate Tourist Plan: Dial *800*#
Internet Packages: Dial *135*3#

3. Virgin Mobile UAE

Virgin is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and uses the network infrastructure of Du. Virgin Mobile UAE offers prepaid and postpaid mobile services and home internet with high-speed 5G internet.

Since it uses Du network towers, you do not need to worry about its 4G and 5G coverage. You can buy the physical or eSIM card at the airport of Dubai by showing your passport only.

Short Review about its Prices:

Virgin Mobile is not offering any free SIM cards and its plans are starting from AED 150. It is a sub-network of DU, so its 5G speed is also very fast, but if we talk about its packages, it is offering users good speed as well as many facilities.

This SIM also with e-SIM facility which the customer can choose before purchasing according to their choice and need. Virgin Mobile offers customers much more and faster data starting from a minimum of 21GB with free local calls and SMS.

The Virgin Mobile Visitor SIM mini plans have a shorter duration but are considered to be the best for internet users. Tourists who have come for 7 days or 10 to 15 days and want calls (Local or International), SMS and high-speed data along with it, then Virgin can be a good choice. Let us guide you to its visitor plans.

Price Data Local Int’l Validity
AED 150 21GB (3GB/Day) 30 Min/SMS 20 Min/SMS 7 Days
AED 200 40GB (3GB/Day) 30 Min/SMS 20 Min/SMS 10 Days
AED 200 Unlimited 30 Min/SMS 20 Min/SMS 7 Days
AED 275 Unlimited 30 Min/SMS 20 Min/SMS 15 Days
AED 525 Unlimited 30 Min/SMS 20 Min/SMS Monthly
Virgin Mobile Visitor SIM prices are included with 5% VAT.

These plans are valid for only Passport/GCC ID. Residents and those people who have Emirates ID, cannot get these plans. Virgin mobile tourist sims are available at the airports of Sharjah and Dubai in UAE.

Most of it is controlled through the app i.e. if you want to activate a plan or start or end a service, recharge it all through the app. Always keep the active Virgin Mobile UAE app on your phone if you are using this SIM card.

Prices Comparison Etisalat vs Du

#Features Etisalat Du
Total Plans 07 08
Internet 1GB to Unlimited 1GB – Unlimited
Calls 30 – 300 Minutes 30 – 400 Mins
Prices AED 0.00 – 319 AED 10 – 499
Validity 1 to 28 Days 1 to 28 Days

Recommendations:

Du is the best sim card for visitors because its 4G service is available in all areas of the UAE. My recommendation is Du because it has 4G and 5G services Its packages are cheaper than Etisalat which comes within everyone’s budget.

Etisalat’s 5G is very good and is available in many cities in UAE _ its 5G quality is higher than DU.

Both operators are offering free SIM cards for tourists at the airport but if someone needs to recharge or call minutes + data, that are available with extra charges. Third carrier Virgin Mobile is best if you need heavy internet data, local and international calls and SMS for a short time. Now, you have to decide which is the best SIM card in UAE according to price, speed and more options availabilities.

Disclaimer: All SIM card prices and plans provided here are for informational purposes only. We are not affiliated with any company; this is simply a review based on our testing. Prices and information may change in the future, so please confirm the details of any offer before making a purchase.