Planning a trip to Dubai? You’re probably busy getting packed and making sure you’ve got everything – sun cream, currency, passport. It’s common at this stage to overlook one important thing – a local SIM card.

Few things are more frustrating than slow mobile connectivity or getting smacked with a crazy hefty bill bloated with roaming charges. Failing to get a local SIM can have a serious impact on your travels. Luckily, we’ve got the details covered on getting a SIM card for Dubai.

We’ll look at the best providers of SIM cards in Dubai, prices and coverage, as well as some other important considerations.

GIgSky Asia
Gigsky simcard
GIgSky Asia

GigSky Asia

  • Price > From $0.00
Jetpac eSIM United Arab Emirates
Jetpac eSIM United Arab Emirates

Jetpac eSIM United Arab Emirates

  • Price > From $1
SimOptions United Arab Emirates
SimOptions United Arab Emirates

SimOptions United Arab Emirates

  • Price > From $8.90
Sim Local United Arab Emirates
Sim Local United Arab Emirates

Sim Local United Arab Emirates

  • Price > From $35.50
Downtown Dubai Neighborhood, Dubai

Why Buy a SIM Card for Dubai?

Our lives have become heavily dependent on being connected at all times and if you are staying in Dubai, it’s no different. Our mobile phones have now become an invaluable tool, particularly when travelling. 

Sure, your native provider will assure you that you’ll remain connected on your travels, but chances are you’ll be quietly racking up roaming charges all the while, only to come home to a staggering bill. 

Money saving Tips Dubai

There’s also an increased risk that a non-local SIM will stop working. One minute you’re happily navigating the top attractions in Dubai and then just as suddenly – poof – no coverage. Now you’re stranded. And frustrated. In the desert heat. 

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    Buying a SIM Card for Dubai – Things to Consider

    Choosing a sim local or international card for Dubai is a very personal process. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. Here are the most important things to consider:


    The factor that influences most decisions. Especially when you’re trying to keep your spending money for meals out, sightseeing or shopping. 

    While there’s fast, reliable Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere in the city, heading out for some sightseeing, hailing a cab in the street, or hitting the beach will require a mobile connection.

    There are only two local providers in Dubai – Du and Etisalat – so there’s less competition and higher prices. In fact, Dubai is one of the most expensive countries for prepaid SIMs. But you already knew Dubai was expensive, I presume.


    Before heading off on your travels, spend some time understanding your average data usage. Then add a little extra because you’ll definitely use more on vacation. That way, when you purchase data for your SIM card in Dubai, you’ll know how much to aim for instead of paying for costly top-ups.

    Be aware that when purchasing packages from Etisalat that their data and voice packages are only valid for 7 days and not a month like other providers.


    Of the two local providers, Etisalat has the more robust network in Dubai, but if you’re only staying in and around Dubai, it won’t make too much difference which provider you choose. If you’re heading off the beaten track, then Etisalat is best.  If you plan on going into the desert as part of your Dubai itinerary, you may have network and coverage issues.

    Explore the Palm Jumeirah Dubai


    Getting a prepaid SIM for Dubai is pretty easy and uncomplicated. You will need a passport when you register your new SIM card, so don’t forget to take this with you. 


    Make sure to check the validity period of your travel SIM in Dubai. Most SIM cards expire after 28 days and can’t be extended past that. If you’re visiting for longer, you may want to consider an option that caters to this.

    In addition to the validity of the SIM card, be aware that Etisalat data and voice packages are valid for 7 days not a month like other providers.  

    The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!
    mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

    A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

    An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

    Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

    Grab an eSIM!

    Where to Buy a Sim Card for Dubai

    When visiting Dubai, you can purchase a SIM card at the airport in almost every terminal, in duty-free shops, and in the city at most malls. It’s a very practical city and you will not have any trouble finding one.

    dubai atlantis

    In the airport

    Great news! You can get a free Dubai SIM card at the airport. The downside? It only has a small amount of data loaded and very little talk time and you’ll need to top up almost immediately. 

    Prices for SIM cards in Dubai and prepaid packages don’t differ much between the airport and retail stores in the city. But the benefit of purchasing in the airport is that there are far more package options for tourists. 

    Are taxis safe in Dubai

    At a store

    As we mentioned, there’s no financial incentive to buying in a store or at the airport. It’s mostly down to the variety of packages on offer. Retail stores don’t thrive on tourist business, so they will have very limited plans to offer. 


    Online retailers, like Amazon, offer various tourist SIM solutions for Dubai from international SIM providers. The benefit of purchasing a prepaid SIM online before you travel is that you have the benefit of being able to carefully research and evaluate your options in your own time. Just make sure you factor in enough time for delivery before your departure date. 

    Best Sim Card Providers in Dubai

    There are two main local providers in Dubai – Du and Etisalat. As a result, there’s historically been very little competition to drive down prices. Virgin Mobile and GigSky’s eSIM have shaken things up a little with their recent entry onto the scene, causing the local providers to adjust their prices to remain competitive.


    Founded in 2010, GigSky is a Palo Alto, California-based mobile technology company that provides e-SIM and SIM card data services to international travellers. Unlike many (maybe even most) other eSIM companies, GigSky are actually a Network Operator themselves in their own right, and partner with over 400 other carriers worldwide.


    While GigSky does not provide local phone numbers, customers can still place and receive calls via apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Skype, utilising the data included in their eSim plans.

    After testing numerous sim companies, GigSky emerges as our preferred choice, thanks to its superior network coverage, reasonable pricing, and user-friendly app. The addition of local number offerings would make their service even more attractive.
    GigSky offers an Asia and Middle East package that will work in Dubai. Let’s have a look at some of them.

    • 1GB – $5.49 – 7 Days
    • 3 GB – $15.49 – 15 Days
    • 5 GB – $25.99 – 30 Days
    • 10 GB – $49.99 – 30 Days


    Jetpac eSim
    Jetpac eSim

    As our world gets smaller, staying connected while travelling becomes not just a luxury but an absolute necessity. Enter Jetpac, a cutting-edge travel eSIM provider promising seamless connectivity at low costs, across the globe.

    Based out of Singapore Jetpac offers packages, designed primarily for travellers and Digital Nomads. They offer various data plans that can be used across many countries, and the service includes features like free airport lounge access if your flight is delayed.

    Good news, Jetpac eSIMs are compatible with a range of devices, including many models from Apple, Samsung, and Google. If you’re wondering what the heck is an eSIM, don’t panic, it’s simple and straightforward to activate a Jetpac eSIM. Users need to sign up on the Jetpac website or app, choose a plan that fits their travel needs, and then scan a QR code to install the eSIM on their device.

    We love Jetpac for its ease of setup and reliable connectivity. JetPac makes it a handy tool for international travel, ensuring continuous access to mobile data across multiple destinations. While they don’t offer local numbers, we love that most of their packs last for 30 days by default so you can just concentrate on how much data you need.

    Sim Options

    Homepage of SimOptions website

    SimOptions is a reputable global marketplace that specialises in offering high-quality prepaid eSIMs for travellers in over 200 destinations worldwide. The platform has been dedicated to providing the best possible eSIM and international sim options at the most competitive rates for travellers since 2018. They rigorously test and select eSIMs to ensure that you receive the best connectivity and service wherever you travel.

    As well as effectively acting as a broker from a number of the best eSIM providers, SimOptions also offer their own eSIM products too.

    Basically, SimOptions is kind of like a market comparison website for helping you find the best sim for your travels. You simply type in your destination and they bring up the different eSIM options from a wide number of prospective providers and suppliers

    Sim Local

    sim local homepage
    Sim Local

    Irish based Sim Local specialise in providing eSIM services, primarily targeted at global travellers to help them stay connected without incurring expensive roaming charges. Based in Dublin and London, Sim Local sells local SIM cards and eSIM profiles through their retail outlets, vending machines, and online platforms.

    Sim Local offers a variety of eSIM plans that can be activated instantly and are designed to provide a convenient and secure way to stay connected in numerous countries. Their services are beneficial for those who travel frequently, as they provide the option to switch between multiple eSIM profiles on a single device, depending on the user’s location and needs.

    They also offer pretty comprehensive customer support and a range of payment options, including Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, all processed securely via Stripe.

    Are you considering an eSim but want more options? Check out the Spanish-based HolaFly which offers great deals not only in their home country but in over 100 other nations too.


    While Du is second in contention for the widest network outside of Dubai, if you’re staying in and around the city limits, then Du is highly recommended. Du offers a great network and great value for money for tourists. 

    • Free SIM card with three package options
    • The smallest package at $14: 2GB and 30 minutes national and international prepaid calls 
    • Expires after 28 days


    If you’re heading off the beaten path outside of Dubai, Etisalat is a good option as their network is slightly wider than DU. That said, be aware that their data and voice packages are only valid for seven days. Don’t get caught out buying in bulk thinking you’re saving and then having your package expire before you’ve used it all. 

    • $15 ex VAT but usually there are free offers
    • Cheapest package at $7: 750MB and 40 minutes valid for 7 days 
    • Lifetime validity if you keep recharging, or 12 months

    Virgin Mobile

    Virgin Mobile Dubai uses the DU network and offers a great option for tourists requiring high-volume packages. The validity of packages varies so make sure you check. 

    • $41
    • 21GB and 30 minutes + 20 international minutes valid for 7 days
    • Expires after 28 days

    What is The Best Sim Card in Dubai for Tourists?

    Best Sim Card in Dubai
    PackagePrice (basic sim)Top Ups Allowed?Expiration
    OneSim e-Sim World$13YNA
    OneSim Universal$29.99YNA
    Du$1428 days
    Etisalat$1512 months
    Virgin Mobile$4128 days

    Final Thoughts on Getting a SIM Card for Dubai

    Dubai is a vibrant, world-class destination bursting with incredible things to see and do. Whether you’re planning desert adventures, hanging out at glamorous beach resorts, soaking up the pulsing nightlife, or enjoying incredible shopping, be sure to choose a SIM card for Dubai that won’t let you down. 

    Want another kind of sim card? Check out the revolutionary new Nomad e-sim, an app-based sim card covering over 100 countries that can be organised before you leave home!

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