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Everything you need to know about getting a free SIM card in Dubai

Find out how to get the most out of your free tourist SIM card!

· 4 min read

Dubai, the dazzling gem of the United Arab Emirates, is a city that seamlessly blends modernity with tradition. From its towering skyscrapers to its ancient souks, Dubai offers a unique blend of experiences for tourists. While you explore this stunning city, one essential item that will help you to explore this city is to stay connected. One of the most best ways of staying connected would be to get a tourist SIM card - and you actually can get one for free at Dubai! But, they are not without limitations. Let's take a look at how you can get a free tourist SIM card, its limitations, and what your alternatives are!

Dubai tourist SIM

How to get a free tourist SIM card in Dubai?

If you are visiting Dubai, you might be glad to know that you can actually get a FREE tourist SIM card during your visit! It is a quick and easy process to get this free SIM card. After you cross the immigrations at any of the terminals at the Dubai International Airport, you can pick up the SIM card from any of the counters for the telecom operator du or Etisalat, the two biggest telco operators in the Dubai.

Alternatively, you can preorder the SIM cards on their official websites and collect it upon arrival.

What does the free Dubai tourist SIM card include?

The free tourist SIM card that is provided will include 1GB free mobile data that is valid for 24 hours. This is very useful for visitors who will be transiting in Dubai, or who will be there for a very short trip. However, if you will be staying for a longer period of time, note that you will need to get a separate bundle to continue staying connected after the initial 24 hours!

And note that in the event where your device is eSIM-only, and you need an eSIM, there is also the option to request for one.

Aside from just the free data, getting a tourist SIM card from one of the local operators also entitles you to some perks and discounts at local attractions or on transport services.

What happens after 24 hours or when my data in my Dubai tourist SIM card runs out?

After your data runs out, or after the 24 hour validity expires, you can add a bundle by recharging your SIM card at one of their physical stores or partner stores, recharging on their web stores, or by using the mobile apps of the respective operators.

What do you need to get the free tourist SIM card in Dubai?

To get the free du SIM card at Dubai, you will need to fulfil the following conditions:

  • You have to be 18 years old and above
  • You will need a valid tourist visa for the UAE
  • You will need to show your passport or ID card

You will also need to activate your SIM card before you can use it. The verification methods may differ from operator to operator. Note that if you are using du, you will receive a verification message from 1220 requesting for your year of birth. You will have to reply the message with the year of birth that matches their records to be able to enjoy the free data.

What are the available data packages for recharging your Dubai tourist SIM card?

If you are looking to recharge your SIM cards, there are a number of plans that you can choose from - each with different volumes and validity.

Prices are fairly similar across both providers, where 2GB of data will cost you about AED49 (approx. USD13); and if you are looking for a 7-days unlimited plan, that would be approximately AED200 (approx. USD54).

Tourist Data Packages for Du
Du Tourist Data Packages and Prices

Alternatively, get a Nomad travel eSIM for Dubai

If 1GB of data with 24 hours of validity is insufficient for your travel needs, and you are looking to explore other options for the entire duration of your trip, consider getting a Nomad travel eSIM for the UAE instead.

Nomad offers travel data eSIMs for Dubai at affordable prices, from as low as USD2.20/GB, which could actually add up to be cheaper than if you were to get a tourist data plan from the local operators! Nomad uses the Etisalat network in Dubai, so you can rest assured about the stability, speed, and coverage of the network as you explore the city.

Take note that purchases of Nomad eSIMs are not allowed from within the UAE, so make sure that the data volume you purchase will be sufficient for your usage! If you are not sure how much data you need when traveling, our data calculator is here to help you find out how much data you need in just 3 simple questions!

Milk your tourist benefits and leverage on the benefits of eSIMs

To get the most out of your tourist benefits and data packages, you can use the free tourist SIM that is provided for your first day there, and switch over to the Nomad travel eSIM for Dubai after the initial 24 hours.

If that is your plan, remember to select the Nomad eSIM profile as the profile that you want to use your data from only when you really want to use it. You can easily switch between your different eSIM and SIM profiles from your device settings, in just a few taps on your device.

However, as you will not be allowed to make your eSIM purchase when you are in Dubai, and since you will ned a stable internet connection to install your eSIM, it is strongly recommended that you buy and install your eSIM before your trip. And in case you were wondering, eSIM installation and activation are not the same thing, so you can always buy and install your eSIM first, but activate it only when you want to use it. Take note that depending on the plan that you purchase, you might need internet connection to activate your plan from within the Nomad app — in such cases, remember to do that within your initial 24 hours or simply before you depart.