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United Arab Emirates - SIM cards

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#1 Aleksandra


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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:38 AM

General Information

The United Arab Emirates have two network providers called Etisalat and du. Both of them are state owned or at least controlled. Etisalat is the biggest provider but focuses in recent times more to local landline costumers. Du is more geared to prepaid clients and tourists. Du has shops in the arrival halls of the airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi where you can buy the SIM card right away or in major shopping malls.


For the purchase of a SIM card, tourists must show their passport with visa or visa stamp. They will copy it and do some paperwork.


The coverage of both operators is very good in the cities, populated areas and along the desert highways in 2G and 3G giving good speed and preformance.


A number of websites which are considered as "offensive" are blocked thus can't be accessed (directly).


No VoIP calls

Despite of contrary media reports VoIP including Skype is still banned all over the UAE. It can't be used on mobile internet nor Wifi. This makes foreign calls very expensive. The problem is that when you try to bypass the block by a proxy/VPN, speed will drop so much, that it is useless anymore.


Without the choice of VoIP the UAE is one of the most expensive countries to call from internationally: a call to EU countries or the US will set you back 2.12 AED per minute on all operators. Try to go to off-peak times (14-16 hrs, 21-7 hrs and all day Friday) when it costs only 1.37 AED/min.


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Biggest mobile network operator, partly state owned.



  • GSM-900
  • 2100 MHz UMTS, HSPA+
  • 1800 MHz LTE (not for prepaid)


With the relaunch of their prepaid card "Wasel" finally affordable mobile internet packages are available by Etisalat. The (new) Wasel SIM is available for 40 AED as mini- and micro-SIM with a bonus of 5 AED valid for three days.


Recharges are by vouchers of 25, 50, 100, 200 or 500 AED using *120*<VoucherCode># Balance can be checked on USSD *121#


Subscribtion to Wasel is made on USSD *140# if not working from the start. The line remains open for at least 9 months and another 3 months incoming only, when not used and recharged.


The default data rate on Wasel is: 20 AED per MB. Their data packages (for prepaid Wasel users):

  • unlimited daily Plan: 25 MB in 24 hrs for 5 AED. Speeds are reduced beyond the data limit.
  • 100 MB weekly Plan: 100 MB in 7 days for 20 AED.
  • 100 MB monthly Plan: 100 MB in 1 month for 29 AED.
  • 1 GB monthly Plan: 1 GB in 1 month for 99 AED.
  • 5 GB monthly Plan: 5 GB in 1 month for 249 AED.

The weekly and monthly plans don't reduce speed beyond their data limit. But overuse is charged by 1 AED per MB.


All plans need to be activated and deactivated, If not deactivated, every plan renews automatically when the internet is accessed beyond the time limit of the previous plan provided they are enough funds preloaded.

For subscription you must send a SMS to 1010 or USSD *170# containing the keyword. DP for daily plan, WP for weekly plan, M100M, M1G or M5G for the the monthly plans. Their APN is: etisalat.ae


Cancellation is done to the same numbers using the keyword preceeded by C<blank> e.g. C DP for the daily plan.


Data usage can be checked on USSD *170# free of charge. A SMS is sent when 80%, 90% and 100% of package are consumed.


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Du Mobile




Du is the second largest mobile network operator in the United Arab Emirates. 39.5% state owned. Many visitors find this network the better choice for prepaid and tourists.



  • GSM-900/1800
  • 2100 MHz UMTS
  • 1800 MHz LTE

Default data rate

  • 55 AED for prepaid SIM (incl. welcome bonus of 100 MB of data and 10 AED time credit to use on calls, SMS and internet)
  • SIM card is valid for 365 days without recharge

Data feature packs


Name        Volume      Price

ultra light    40 MB       20 AED
light           100 MB      50 AED
medium      1 GB       100 AED
heavy         4 GB       200 AED
                  25 GB       500 AED


All data packages are valid for 30 days and are not on 4G. Excess use is charged by 0.01 AED per KB.


Note: You will have two accounts: a data account and a call/text account. The data bundles are activated when your data account is recharged by the required amount. *131*<voucher no.> puts money in your data account. There are vouchers for all price categories.


Code *135*<voucher no.> puts money in your call/text account. Many people found this dual account scheme confusing. So du now offers to buy the packages as well from call account to by texting "moredata###" to 1311. ### stands for the amount in AED like 20, 50, 100, 200 or 500.



  • Du online shopto be sent to an UAE address
  • offline in dedicated shops (store locator) in shopping malls
  • Abu Dhabi airport arrival hall and all terminals of Dubai airport

SIM sizes

  • mini-SIM (2FF), micro-SIM (3FF) and nano-SIM (4FF) available.

Internet Settings

  • APN: du
  • User name: du
  • Password: du
  • Port: 8800


  • Allowed (free)

More information

  • Attention when recharging your account. You have to choose which account you want to charge with money (call, data - see above).
  • International calling rates are high in absence of VoIP (see above)
  • website www.du.ae


Source - http://prepaidwithdata.wikia.com

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