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Internet in the United Arab Emirates: the best mobile data alternatives | April 2024

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Last update: April 1, 2024
Roams UK
Author: Roams UK
264 people have read this post in the last 12 months
In a nutshell

Travelling to Dubai and don't know how to get internet in the UAE? Between the high cost of roaming, the time wasted buying a SIM on landing and finding free wifi, the best option is the Holafly eSIM for the UAE. Unlimited browsing for 15 days for £39.

Buy an eSIM for the Arab Emirates.

Internet in the UAE: all the alternatives

Visit Dubai, the City of Gold, have your photo taken at the Burj Khalifa or go to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque! Travelling to the United Arab Emirates is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and if you want to make sure you stay connected all the time you will need the best internet in this destination.

Currently, there are several options available to stay connected on this side of the world: roaming, pocket wifi, prepaid SIM cards, public networks or the Holafly eSIM for the UAE.

So get ready, because Roams is going to tell you everything you need to know about the best eSIM for the United Arab Emirates. First, we've rounded up the best mobile data plan in the UAE.

You'll read about prices, features, benefits, where to buy and more information to help you make the best decision. Keep reading!

How much does Internet cost in the UAE?
Service Price/Days Data
Holafly eSIM for UAE
  • From £39/10 days
  • Unlimited
SIM Card in UAE
  • From £8/30 days
  • From 1GB
Wifi in UAE:
  • Portable
  • Public

  • From £6/day
  • Free

  • From 1GB
  • Unlimited
Roaming in the UAE
  • From £6
  • From 1MB

Which is the best Dubai eSIM?

Over time, phones are integrating eSIMs for mobile connectivity. A new study by Juniper Research (1) suggests that this type of technology will grow rapidly in 4 years. And no wonder: this option has become the most appropriate for all types of travel: tourism and business.

What is an eSim card?

The advantages are many: with an eSIM, such as Holafly UAE, you can have several phone numbers or a data plan on one phone, and avoid the high costs of roaming when you are abroad. To activate them, you only need to read the code provided by the company when you buy your eSIM card with your mobile phone camera, making them very popular.

The eSIM United Arab Emirates is, in our opinion, the easiest and cheapest way to have mobile data in the UAE for tourists. This type of virtual card offers very convenient prices and can be easily purchased online. There are different companies that offer this service, such as Airalo, SimOptions, Truphone or Ubigi, but we recommend you take a look at Holafly eSIM for the UAE.

As a summary, we have listed the main benefits and drawbacks of buying an eSIM for the UAE with Holafly:

Advantages and disadvantages of eSIM United Arab Emirates
Advantages
  • High speed and stable connection in Arab Emirates.
  • Receive your QR code and surf instantly.
  • Easy to set up and activate.
  • Keep your WhatsApp number on your cellphone.
  • Connect to the best network in Arab Emirates.
  • Forget about roaming or searching for public wifi networks.
Disadvantages
  • No phone number or SMS included, but you can use WhatsApp.
  • You cannot share data with another person.

You may be wondering if eSIM is available in the UAE. The answer is yes, and as we have shown you, the advantages of purchasing an eSIM for the UAE are even greater. From Roams, we encourage you to choose this option to have unlimited data on your trip to the Asian country.

If you are convinced by this alternative, remember that you have these eSIM companies with which you can sign up for internet in the United Arab Emirates:

  • Nomad eSIM
  • Dent eSIM
  • Truphone
  • Redteago
  • Flexiroam
  • Mogo eSIM
  • Conecty

Which SIM card is best for the UAE?

There are several companies offering SIM cards in the UAE, including Etisalat, Du and Virgin Mobile. But, which SIM is best for internet in UAE? Etisalat is one of the largest telecommunications providers in the country, and offers a variety of plans to suit different needs and budgets. Du is new to the market, but has quickly become popular for its affordable prices and flexible plans. Virgin Mobile is a more niche option, targeting a younger, tech-savvy audience with its unique offerings and emphasis on data usage.

In terms of pricing, Etisalat prepaid SIM cards start at £15, while Du prepaid SIM cards start at £10. Virgin Mobile prepaid SIM cards also start at £12. Each company offers a range of tariffs, including those with unlimited local calls and text messages, or those with generous data allowances for internet use. Some of Etisalat's most popular plans are the Wasel and E-Life packages, while Du has the Pay As You Go and Flexi plans. Virgin Mobile offers the Data Only and Data and Call packages.

It is important to consider your usage habits when choosing a SIM card and plan. If you are a heavy data user and need a large allowance for Internet usage, Virgin Mobile's data-centric plans may be the best option for you. If you're looking for a balance of affordability and capacity for calls and SMS, Du's flexible plans may be a good option. And if you are looking for a complete package with a variety of features, Etisalat's packages may be the best option.

However, due to its price, we still think the best option for mobile data in the UAE is eSIM Holafly, not only because of its price but also because of its English-language customer service, data capacity, ease of use and peace of mind for you.

Buy your eSIM for the UAE card with a 5% discount with the code ROAMS.


Connecting to wifi in the UAE: free or portable

Connecting to wifi in the UAE is quite easy, as there are several options available to users. There are free public wifi networks, or you can use pocket wifi, a portable mobile data device, to always have an internet connection. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options:

Using the internet in the United Arab Emirates with pocket wifi

The famous pocket wifi, also called portable modem, hotspot or MiFi, are devices that companies rent so that you can connect all your devices to the internet while you are travelling. Here are three examples to show you how much it costs to have portable internet in the UAE.

  • Travelers WiFi: by renting this portable pocket wifi you will get high-speed internet in the UAE for a price starting at £29/day. On a daily basis, you will have unlimited data to use and connect up to 5 devices simultaneously.
  • TravelWiFi: TravelWiFi's pocket wifi device costs from £8/day, which offers 1GB to connect up to 5 devices and up to 4G speed.
  • Klook: this company offers portable wifi for £6/day. It has 4G speed and allows up to 10 devices to connect simultaneously, with a data limit of 4GB.

The prices of this service tend to be a bit high. If we make a list of advantages and disadvantages, we can conclude that it is not an alternative to have mobile data on your trip to the UAE.

Advantages and disadvantages of SIM card United Arab Emirates
Advantages
  • It is portable, you can take it with you wherever you go.
  • It offers a faster and more reliable connection than free wifi.
  • Furthermore, it is secure, you can transmit confidential information without any problem.
  • It allows you to connect to multiple devices simultaneously.
Disadvantages
  • It is one of the most expensive options.
  • Battery life is between 6 and 13 hours.
  • You will need to have the router with you at all times and risk losing it.
  • In addition to the data plan, you must pay for the rental, insurance and shipping of the device.

Free wifi in UAE: a cheap but unreliable option

There are a number of free wifi hotspots in the UAE, including airports, metro stations, libraries and public parks. These hotspots usually have a time limit or limited speed.

We recommend that you do not log into your bank account or accounts with information that is important to you when using public internet in the UAE or in any country, as you may be hacked and your trip will be seriously affected.

Although there are mobile apps to help you find free wifi networks in the UAE, availability may be limited, especially in rural or remote areas such as the country's deserts. Also, speeds will be variable, and you won't enjoy a fast network, as with an internet plan.


Roaming UAE: How much does it cost to use data?

Another way to have internet while you are travelling is to activate roaming to continue enjoying your mobile data in the United Arab Emirates.

However, keep in mind that this alternative is not the most beneficial from an economic point of view, as roaming costs in the UAE with most companies operating in the UK are very high. You could expect to be charged £6-£13 per MB. So if you watched a movie on Netflix, that could mean paying hundreds. That’s why we recommend buying a SIM card instead.

The most popular carriers with roaming in UAE:


Internet coverage and speed in the UAE

Internet coverage and speed in the United Arab Emirates is generally good. Telecommunications operators in the country have invested significantly in telecommunications infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology.

Mobile internet coverage in the UAE is excellent in urban and tourist areas, with 4G and 5G signals available in most areas. However, in some rural or remote areas, coverage may be limited.

As for internet speed, it is also quite high in the UAE, with an average download speed of around 180MB. This allows for a satisfactory browsing and streaming experience. According to SpeedTest (2) , the UAE ranks 16th in the world for internet speed.

Overall, the UAE has an advanced telecommunications infrastructure and good internet coverage and speed, which allows for a satisfactory browsing experience for users.


Advantages of having internet in the UAE

Having internet access in the UAE allows you to enjoy a more comfortable and hassle-free travel experience, because not only does it allow you to stay connected, informed and entertained during your stay in the country, but it will also prevent you from having mishaps such as getting lost while on the move or communicating fluently without knowing the language.

  • Navigation: by having internet in the UAE, you can use the internet to navigate maps and navigation applications, allowing you to find your way easily in an unfamiliar place.
  • Communication: You will also be able to keep in touch with friends and family back home through messaging apps.
  • Booking: If you have mobile data in the UAE, you can book hotels, transport and tourist attractions online, saving you time and effort. Plus, you'll have all your tickets at your fingertips.
  • Tourist information: You can also access tourist information online, such as attraction reviews, travel tips and restaurant recommendations, to make every second of your trip hassle-free.
  • Entertainment: You can use the internet to watch movies, TV shows and series, listen to music and play online games.

In addition to all of the above, having the internet in the UAE on your mobile phone will also help you to book a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the world's largest skyscraper, easily show your reservation when you enter the Atlantis The Palm Hotel, book a tour for a desert excursion, rent a car and visit Abu Dhabi.


Internet in the UAE: some recommendations for your trip

At Roams, we have prepared some recommendations and restrictions when it comes to connecting to the internet in the United Arab Emirates during a trip so that you have all the information you need to have a luxury holiday at hand.

  1. Get an eSIM from Holafly: Buying a virtual card will allow you to access the internet at a reasonable price, in your language, and avoid international roaming charges.
  2. Check coverage: If you opt to use your mobile operator, make sure it has coverage in the UAE before you travel.
  3. Check restrictions: The UAE has some restrictions on online content, so make sure you comply with local laws when using the internet.
  4. Use a VPN: If you want to access blocked websites or apps, we recommend using a VPN to maintain your privacy and security.
  5. Voltage and frequency: In the UAE, a voltage of 220-240V and a frequency of 50Hz is used. The most common plugs and sockets are the same as those used in the UK.
  6. Public mobile charging: It is advisable to bring a portable charger or power bank if you are travelling to the UAE, as public charging points are not easy to find, and you run the risk of being cut off.

How much is 1 GB data in Dubai?

In Dubai, the cost of 1 GB of data can vary depending on the provider and the specific plan you choose. On average, you can expect to pay between £6 and £12 for 1 GB of data. However, the actual cost can be higher or lower depending on the company and the type of plan you choose.

Etisalat and Du are two of the largest telecommunications providers in Dubai, and both offer a variety of data-focused plans. For example, Etisalat's prepaid Wasel plan offers 1 GB of data for £12, while Du's Pay As You Go plan offers 1 GB of data for £8. Virgin Mobile is another option to consider, offering a range of data-focused plans starting at £12 for 1 GB of data.

It is important to note that many of these plans also come with additional features, such as unlimited local calls and texts, or unlimited data usage at specific times of the day. When choosing a plan, it is important to consider your specific usage habits and what you need in a plan. For example, if you are a heavy data user and need a large allowance for internet usage, you might consider a plan with a higher data allowance. On the other hand, if you mostly use your phone for calls and texts, you might choose a plan with a lower data allowance and more call and text allowances.

Buy your eSIM for the UAE card with a 5% discount with the code ROAMS.


FAQs

Does UAE have good internet?

The UAE's Internet speed and quality are among the best in the world. According to the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL), the UAE's Internet quality is the third best in the world. The quality, which considers speed, stability and growth, is 54 per cent better than the global average.

Is wifi free in the UAE?

Dubai is a smart city with many places offering free wifi. Places where you can enjoy free wifi in Dubai include airports, shopping malls, restaurants and cafes.

Is internet monitored in the UAE?

The UAE has an advanced surveillance system, which includes all online modalities, as well as surveillance of public spaces in real life. With the cybercrime law and the latest social media regulations, the state can retaliate against any form of expression, leading users to self-censor online. Some of the most common restrictions include blocked content from some websites and applications related to politics, religion, pornography and violence.

How can I get mobile data in Dubai?

There are several ways to get mobile data in Dubai. The most common is to buy a SIM card from one of the local telecoms providers, such as Etisalat, Du or Virgin Mobile. Another option is to buy a mobile hotspot device. These devices create a wireless network that you can connect to with your phone, tablet or laptop, allowing you to access the internet without using a SIM card. Similarly, many hotels and cafes in Dubai offer free Wi-Fi, so you can connect to the internet without having to buy a SIM card or mobile hotspot device. Finally, the best option is a Holafly eSIM for mobile data from the moment you arrive in the UAE.

Do international prepay eSIM cards fit in the United Arab Emirates?

International prepaid eSIM cards can be used in the UAE, you just need to check compatibility, which may vary depending on the specific card and your device. Some popular international prepaid eSIM providers such as Holafly, Virgin and Truphone offer plans for the UAE. It is important to check the specific coverage and rates offered by your eSIM provider in the UAE before travelling.

Fuentes del artículo
  1. The eSim revolution is here: Juniper Research - TechCentral. https://techcentral.co.za/the-esim-revolution-is-here-juniper-research/219162/
  2. Speedtest Global Index – Internet Speed around the world. (n.d.). Speedtest Global Index. Consulted in https://www.speedtest.net/global-index
Our methodology
Roams offers a free information and comparison service, which tries to help anyone find the product that best suits their needs. To ensure that the data presented is correct, extensive market research and product analysis is carried out. Our database of mobile phone and internet rates is updated every day. The content is frequently reviewed by a team of writers with previous experience and/or specific training in telephony.

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Laura Burón
Edited and revised por Laura Burón