Free SIM-card in Dubai

Page update - Sep 23, 2022

Starting in July 2019, arriving in Dubai tourists can receive free SIM-cards by the local DU operator. Of course, the DU operator and the Dubai government claim that this is (we quote) "a compliment to tourists". But what is really their benefit? And what could be your losses? And the big question - should you use this SIM-card or is it better to buy yourself a full local SIM-card?

This page was updated in September 2022 and free SIM-cards are still being handed out. Apparently, the experiment was a success. Now such a SIM-card has the added value for tourists - to use the COVID19-DXB and Al-Hosn covid-safety apps.

Attention! Free SIM-cards may or not be available at some border crossing points. It's a matter of luck. Ask the officer at the migration control. If he(she) has then will give you the SIM. If not, then do not sorrow.

Warning! At the moment (September 2022) there is a special bonus with the free SIM-cards - free 1 GB of mobile Internet for 24 hours. But will this bonus be valid when you will arrive in Dubai? Unknown. DU has not issued a timeframe for this promotion.

You've got the card in our hands. What next?

Next, you need to insert the SIM-card into your phone. You will receive an SMS from the number 1220. You have to reply to this SMS with a message (also SMS) with the year of your birth. In reply you will receive a congratulatory SMS confirming successful activation. Well done. Everything works now.

Terms & Prices

This is a joint promotion of DU mobile operator and GDRFA (Dubai Residency and International Affairs Authority).

Tourists may receive free SIM-cards right at the immigration checkpoint. DU now provides 3,000 cards every day, but that's not enough for all arrivals. Mentally prepare yourself that you won't get a free SIM-card. However, there is no need to be sad about it. We will tell you why later.

There is a package of: 3 flexi-minutes and 20 megabytes of mobile traffic.

At this point, many people say, "Great! I'll call my mom, I'll tell her that I made a successful flight!"

No. In most cases you will not be able to call home, as these are local minutes, not international. Or rather, they are minutes to numbers in the UAE and a limited list in other countries. Although, try! There are chances your destination phone number is in the list. Maybe not.

"Then with these megabytes I'll call home on WhatsApp, Skype or other messenger!"

No. You won't be able to call on WhatsApp, as any VoIP calls in the UAE are illegal and blocked. The only three VoIP services work in the UAE properly - BOTIM, C`Me, HiU.

And they also say, "Great, I can call a cheaper cab so I don't have to overpay cab drivers on my way out of the airport."

It won't work. All cab drivers have the same fare from the airport - 25 dirhams for boarding and 1.72 per kilometer. There is no cheaper cab there. If you want cheaper, take the subway. Read our page "How to get from Dubai Airport to the city".

Theoretically, there are UBER and Careem, but their prices are almost the same as the official RTA cab. Read about all the prices in our review "Taxis in Dubai".

Find your flight

How to add minutes and gigabytes

Naturally, you can add packages of traffic and minutes to this SIM-card. The detailed instructions are inside the pack with the SIM-card. But to do this, you first need to recharge your account.

To do this you need to find a DU office or any store that provides the DU Quick Recharge service. There are DU offices in all three terminals at Dubai Airport. There you need to say your phone number and recharge amount. After payment, they will give you a voucher with a code. The voucher has instructions on how to activate it.

Or find a payment machine. The principle of operation and interface of such machines in the UAE are no different from others. See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

Then you choose one of the packages:

AED 49 - 30 local minutes + 2 gigabytes. Works for 28 days.

AED 99 - 30 local minutes + 6 gigabytes. Works for 28 days.

AED 139 - 30 local minutes + 10 gigabytes. Works for 28 days.

AED 189 - 30 local minutes + 20 gigabytes. Works for 28 days.

AED 299 - unlimited minutes + unlimited internet. Works for 10 days.

These rates are exactly the same as the DU Tourist Plan.

See the current exchange rates of dirham to the dollar, pound and euro on the page "Money in the UAE". All the Dubai airports terminals have currency exchange offices, although the rates there are a little worse than in the exchange offices in shopping malls. Read our review "How and where to exchange money in the UAE".

After you recharge the account you need to activate the package, the instructions are in the pack with the SIM-card. The procedure is rather complicated. We hope that DU will make it easier.

How much does it cost to call home with a per-minute charge?

For those who need only a few minutes on vacation, the free SIM comes in handy. You need to recharge (preferably at the nearest DU office) and you can call home for 1.49 dirham per minute (US, UK and other European countries). It is not cheap at all, but roaming is even more expensive.

Attention! An important point! If you want to call home with a per-minute charge, then remember. You have to recharge with NO MORE than 49 dirhams.

If you recharge with 49 dirhams or more you will automatically get a package for 49 (2 GB). Accordingly, you will not get money on the account and will not be able to make calls.

Top up, for example, for 15 dirhams, to be enough for 10 minutes of talk time.

Attention! An important point! Immediately, in the DU office, dial the number to your home country to make sure that international calls work. If it does not work, immediately show the problem to an employee.

Find your hotel

Wouldn't it be easier to buy a DU Tourist Plan?

Naturally, it's easier to buy a full DU Tourist Plan SIM-card. Come to the DU office, pay 49, 99, 139, 189, or 299 dirhams, show your passport to a DU employee, and get your SIM-card.

What could be easier?

Wouldn't it be better to buy a SIM from Etisalat instead of a DU?

At the moment (September 2022) it is better to buy an Etisalat SIM-card. As of January 1, 2022, they updated their Visitor Line travel plans. Now there are more gigabytes for the same price. Etisalat now has more bonuses, and the bonuses are more valuable.

At this moment we recommend Etisalat.

We have described and compared the DU and Etisalat travel tariffs in detail with each other and with roaming in the reviews "Cheap Internet in the UAE" and "Cheap calls from the UAE".

Why does DU need all this?

It is very profitable for DU to give out free SIM-cards. First, they take customers away from competitor Etisalat and their Visitor Line. Second, they urge tourists to use their SIM-cards rather than roaming.

What's better for the tourist?

It's easier for a tourist to keep the SIM-card as a souvenir or in case of emergency. Then go to the DU or Etisalat office and buy a Tourist Plan or Visitor Line.

What is an ALSAADA bonus?

ALSAADA is a tourist discount program by the authorities in Dubai. The DU operator gives this bonus for free. True, the ALSAADA program itself is free for all tourists. It turns out that you are given for free something that is already free.

There is a QR-code to download the ALSAADA application on the package. However, you can download this application without QR-code, just find it on Google Play or the App Store.

Read all the details about ALSAADA in our review "How to save on entertainment in Dubai".

Important and useful to know

- We have described and compared the DU and Etisalat travel tariffs in detail with each other and with roaming in the reviews "Cheap Internet in the UAE" and "Cheap calls from the UAE";

- Abu Dhabi and Sharjah airports are not giving out free SIMs yet. Perhaps they will if the experiment in Dubai is successful;

- Validity period of free SIM is 30 days.

Have a nice time in Dubai or other Emirates, and read our interesting pages about the UAE (see the list of the pages below).


Tips for Tourists in the UAE


What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach


The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE


What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud


Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE


Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE


From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City


From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai


Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes




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Dubai Marina



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Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi


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Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain



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Free Attractions in the UAE


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Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

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Waterfall in Dubai Mall


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Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

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