Mobile phones

Operators and calling plans

Dubai’s mobile providers Du and Etisalat operate on a GSM network. They offer both contract pre-paid mobile services and pay-as-you-go plans in a wide range of packages.

Getting a new mobile number in Dubai is relatively easy. In order to set up a contract arrangement, you will need to visit the operators office, business centre or an authorized reseller. Bring your passport, your residency visa and a copy of these documents.

Before getting your mobile number you will need to fill in and sign an application form and pay a fee for setting up a phone contract. In 2010 the initial fee was around 300 AED with a yearly renewal fee of 100 AED.

The best and cheapest way for tourists travelling to Dubai is to get a pre-paid SIM card (Wasel). You can buy the card online, at provider’s offices or at retail outlets. To buy a pre-paid card, you will have to hand over a copy of your passport with your visa and pay a registration fee of 165 AED (which includes a generous start up credit of 10 AED). Ask the reseller to activate the SIM card of your mobile phone immediately as this has to be done within one hour after the purchase.

Prices for calling

In 2010, Etisalat charged around 30 fils a minute for mobile calls. Du charges per second which can be cheaper if you only make short calls.

Incoming calls are free unless you receive a call while you’re abroad (in which case you pay international roaming fees).

SMS to local numbers cost approximately 18 fils per message. Sending messages to foreign numbers can cost as much as 60 fils per message.

Paying your mobile bill

Etisalat allows various methods of payment. You can either set up a direct debit, pay at automated payment machines or pay by cash at Etisalat offices.

Prepaid SIM cards are recharged with an e-Voucher which is replacing traditional scratch-cards (so-called Wasel recharge cards). Wasel cards are sold at tobacco shops, magazine stands or shops displaying the Wasel logo.

Du also offers number of ways to pay the phone bill. You can either pay directly in Du shops, at Cash Deposit Machines, by cheques or via bank transfers. It is also possible to register your credit card at Du to allow automatic payment.

Further reading

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