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Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

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posts: 103
Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?


We will be in Dubai for a few weeks and would like to know whether as tourists we will be able to purchase a 'pay as you go' sim card from dubai airport or perhaps near the DIFC/Dubai mall area?

If yes, what do the network providers require in terms of Identification?

Can we pay for the sim card and any top up credit by American Express credit card?

Which network is better/easier to purchase sim card and top ups - DU or Etisalat?

Your advise is appreciated.


posts: 529
1. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

Yes,Tourists can purchase Pay as you go Sim cards. Passport copy with visa page is required for identification.

There are only 2 operators.Etisalat and Du. Etisalat qulity and coverage is better.Du is cheaper and they charge by second whereas Etisalat charges by minute.

You can buy the card at the airport arrival area shops.The price may be bit more.However they are available from small grocery shops in Satwa,BurDubai,Karama and Deira. It is also available from major supermarkets and telecom retail shops.

In Dubai mall Etisalat and Du have their own shops.On Shk Zayed Road near DIFC there is a telecom retail shop.

Amex is usually not accepted by many retailers as their commission is high.In any case the price of Sim card is around AED50 and top up cards are in 20/50 denominations.

Newton Abbot...
posts: 2,459
reviews: 1
2. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

<< Amex is usually not accepted by many retailers as their commission is high >>

The only card I've ever used in Dubai is Amex and never had a problem.

posts: 103
3. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

Thanks for the replies so far...let us know any other experiences

Dubai, United Arab...
Destination Expert
for Dubai
posts: 3,378
reviews: 20
4. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

You'll most probably find the best deal for you is the visitors SIM from du. I use du every day and don't have an issue with coverage, I think this might be an older issue or one in the more remote areas.

Regarding Amex, I don't have a card any more. Retailers do normally get charged a little more for customers using them, so you might not get the bartering deal you are looking for but most restaurants, tourist areas and hotels accept them.

Dubai, United Arab...
posts: 2,022
5. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

du have invested alot of $ in improving coverage the last 12 months - I use du and its much cheaper than Etisalat and have had no coverage issues.

You will have problems using Amex in many places, as Swiss says, due to their higher commission charges. Major hotels no problem but outside that you'll need visa/mastercard.

Even HSBC wouldn't accept my Amex the otherday when I tried to pay my car insurance...

Tyne and Wear
Destination Expert
for Dubai
posts: 7,108
reviews: 18
6. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

You can buy a SIM card in some petrol stations now as well.

I have used both DU and Etisilat in the past and I prefer Etisilat for the coverage but like Harry said above they are probably better now as they have invested money into there network and it was a quite a while ago when I used a DU SIM. They are cheaper, although I read somewhere that Etisilat are reducing there prices/offering discounts etc to compete with DU. I'm sure Harry can shed some light on this??

With regard to credit cards I also use only AMEX but you do encounter problems in some shops especially if buying jewellery or watches as even after you have negotiated your socks off as soon as you get out your AMEX the price goes up buy 3-4% as the shops get charged more. For normal run of the mill stuff I've never had a problem with it and I've used one daily for last 3 weeks in several different Emirates.

posts: 281
reviews: 1
7. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

is Du available from airport.

Here and there
Destination Expert
for Dubai, Pissouri
posts: 30,799
reviews: 30
8. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

Yes there is a Du shop in the arrivals hall of Terminal 1

posts: 338
reviews: 5
9. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

How much does a du card cost approx?

Dubai, United Arab...
posts: 2,022
10. Re: Dubai Sim Card for Tourists?

Visitor mobile line is 49Dhs which includes 20Dhs credit: