If you're going to visit Dubai, you'll need to search the Internet, use your smartphone's GPS to find your way, share on social networks... or simply stay in touch with your family and friends.
Just like the USA, Dubai is part of the countries where operators charge roaming fees for tourists using their networks without a special SIM card. So if you continue to use your classic package, you risk having your phone bill explode…
Fortunately, you can always get a Dubai SIM card, so as to stay connected without breaking the bank. In this little guide, I'll tell you all about the best options available that will make your life easier during your stay in Dubai.
WHAT CAN A SIM CARD FOR DUBAI DO?
The biggest advantage of choosing a SIM card for Dubai is obviously to be able to continue using all the services available on the Internet throughout your trip. The operation is in fact very similar to that of a Pocket Wifi.
You will be able to consult internet websites, publish your vocation photos on Instagram or other social networks, but also use the connection to locate yourself and follow a route on your GPS, or to make free audio and video calls (through WhatsApp, for example) — all this while keeping your personal accounts, as if you were using your classic phone package or your home Internet connection. With a SIM card specially designed for use in Dubai and the UAE, there will be no more overages or roaming charges – and no unpleasant surprises nor need to spend a lot of money.
The best plan to stay connected in Dubai
I think one of the best plans to stay connected during your stay in Dubai is Holafly SIM card. Just order them online, and they will be delivered to your home ready to be used. You get a 6GB data plan to use on Dubai's 4G network, for 15 days. And even if you’ve used all the mobile data, you'll still be able to use the Internet as much as you want at no extra cost, with a limited speed of 128kbps.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SIM CARD FOR DUBAI?
Choosing the most suitable SIM card for Dubai is based on two very important criteria:
- Your usage and your needs. Always choose a formula that offers a sufficient mobile data quota, but which will not be exaggerated for the use you will need. There's no need to opt for the most complete packages if you just want to keep an Internet connection for a few small specific needs. On the other hand, top-ups or out-of-package data consumption being very expensive, don't hesitate to pay a few extra dollars to leave yourself some margin and avoid overruns.
- The quality of the coverage. Not all telephone operators are equal in this area, and while in Dubai, you will appreciate having access to a mobile network that will never fail you, even if you decide to move away from the city and go to other emirates. The cheapest offer is in fact very rarely the best value for money – and again, paying a few extra dollars to a provider offering much better coverage and good technical support will always be a smart choice.
HOW TO GET A SIM CARD FOR DUBÁI?
You will be able to buy a SIM card directly in Dubai, as soon as you arrive at the airport. In this case however, you will have to go to the counters of a local telephone operator like Etisalat or DU – and there are lines more often than not. Moreover, you can never be sure you will be able to get the most interesting packages.
Usually, the plans offered by these operators are locked, they don't offer much mobile data, and often need to be topped up – which makes the total bill quite hard to read.
The easiest and most convenient way to buy one is to do so on an official store’s official website, before your departure. Plus, having Internet access from the second you set foot in Dubai will be a real plus. Several online stores offer prepaid cards for many destinations around the world, including Dubai.
THE SIM CARD FOR DUBÁI HOLAFLY
Among all the offers, there is one that stands out and that I particularly recommend: Holafly.
Some plans are more complex and offer various packages with many options, and they charge both the issuance and the sending of the SIM card. That is not the case with Holafly, which offers a quality formula and which seems to me perfectly created to meet the needs of most travelers.
This prepaid SIM card specially designed for travelers offers:
- A 6GB data plan to use on Dubai's 4G network, for a period of 15 days.
- Free delivery of the SIM card to your home before your departure in 7 to 10 working days. You can also choose a fast delivery in 48 to 72 hours for 4.50 €.
- Easy to use – just insert the card and activate data roaming. Make sure to wait until you’re in Dubai to install the SIM card, though 😉
- French assistance available 24/7.
- A partnership with the operator Etisalat, which offers the best coverage in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
One of the big advantages of this offer is that even if you fully use the 6GB of mobile data, you will still be able to use the Internet as much as you want at no extra cost, only with a limited speed of 128kbps.
This limited speed is not enough to watch videos for example, but it is still quite sufficient to browse the Internet or make audio calls with WhatsApp or another application.
This SIM card therefore helps you stay connected in Dubai, without ever having to pay roaming fees or out of bundle.
PRICES OF SIM CARDS FOR DUBÁI
This Holafly 6GB prepaid SIM card package for Dubai costs £56 all-in.
Another formula quite similar and popular is that of OneSimCard, which offers 3 GB of mobile data for $30, plus $35 of card issuance fees and a $5 shipping fee. In all, this card of only 3 GB costs $70.
As such, Holafly offers by far the most interesting Sim Card for Dubai that you can buy online before your departure.
On site, the operators' formulas can be slightly more interesting in terms of price, but they often have other drawbacks:
- Subscription is slower and more complex.
- Coverage is not always as good, especially with Du operators.
- The connection is often cut off once the mobile data has been consumed, without the possibility to continue browsing with a reduced speed.
HOW MUCH MOBILE DATA IS NEEDED?
It's not always easy to get an idea of how much mobile data you'll need. So here are some examples of how much data is consumed by certain online activities:
- Browsing the Internet or using social networks: about 100 MB per hour;
- Using the map application: about 60 MB per hour;
- Making an audio call with WhatsApp: about 30 MB per hour;
- Making a video call with WhatsApp: between 250 MB and 1.3 GB per hour, depending on the video quality setting;
- Streaming music: about 150 MB per hour.
As you can see, 6GB mobile data for up to 15 days already lets you free to do a lot online, especially since even if you go over the limit, the 128kbps throughput will still allow you to do almost everything bar video.
IS A PREPAID SIM CARD FOR DUBÁI REALLY NECESSARY?
So, will you really need a SIM card for Dubai during your stay?
Before I give you a detailed answer to this question, I will give you a more general answer. In my opinion, yes. It will always be more convenient to take one, even if you have very limited mobile data needs. To put it another way, for this price, it would be a shame to go without a service that can be so convenient.
It is of course still possible to use the Internet without paying a cent in Dubai, but within certain limits and under more restrictive conditions.
The network of hotspots in Dubai is quite well developed. At your hotel, you will of course be able to connect to Wifi – but it will also be possible in a lot of places in the city, especially at the airport and near the big attractions (such as at the Dubai Fountain, at the Burj Khalifa, in the city’s shopping malls...). But these public networks are less secure, and they are sometimes overloaded.
Obviously, it is possible that these public networks are enough for you. But I really think that having the freedom to use the Internet without any constraint during your whole stay in Dubai for only about $52 is a really good deal.
Just being able to make and receive all your phone calls via WhatsApp without any limits already justifies this purchase.
Moreover, it will be possible to share your connection with other devices (smartphones, laptops...). If you are traveling with a couple, friends or family, one SIM card could be enough for everyone to use the Internet!