How does the Internet in Dubai differ from the Russian, and what mobile operator can I choose?

Article author
11 Jan 2024
11 Jan 2024
In this article

For most people, the internet is an integral part of life: almost anywhere in the world, you can stay in touch with family and colleagues, find necessary information, plan routes, or make financial transactions. If you are going on vacation or moving to the Emirates, you may wonder how to use the internet in Dubai. Whether to buy a local SIM card, stay in roaming, or opt for a home connection – this article covers all the nuances of using the internet in Dubai.

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Roaming with Russian operators in the UAE


Before your trip to the Emirates, you can activate the Abroad service with MTS, allowing you to use mobile communication and the internet within your tariff. There are restrictions on calls: 100 minutes for incoming and 50 minutes for outgoing calls to local numbers and to Russia. The service costs 450 rubles per day, and payment will only be deducted if you use the internet or mobile communication on that day.


If you are a Yota subscriber, you can freely use messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage even with a negative balance. You don't need to specifically activate this service; it activates automatically with an active internet traffic package.

Outgoing calls will cost 19 rubles per minute, incoming calls around 9 rubles per minute, and sending an SMS will cost 9 rubles.


Without additional options, the cost of incoming and outgoing calls in roaming will be 69 rubles per minute, and the cost of internet is 6.9 rubles per 100 KB.

Additional options for travelers:

  • unlimited use of messengers for 149 rubles per day; 
  • Roaming, Goodbye Plus – 100 minutes for incoming and outgoing calls and 10 GB of internet per day for 990 rubles per day; 
  • 30 minutes for 14 days for 599 rubles;
  • 100 minutes for 14 days for 999 rubles;
  • 1 GB for 7 days for 999 rubles; 
  • 3 GB for 14 days for 1999 rubles; 
  • 10 GB for 30 days for 3599 rubles;
  • 30 GB for 30 days for 9799 rubles.


Outgoing calls in UAE roaming will cost 45 rubles per minute, and SMS will cost 45 rubles. Additionally, the internet is charged at 450 rubles per day for 1 GB. Payment will only be deducted if you use the internet.


The cost of incoming and outgoing calls without connected services will be 39 rubles per minute. You can activate the Talks Without Borders option for 5 rubles per day, and incoming calls will then cost 5 rubles per minute. You can also subscribe to a package with 4 GB, 40 minutes, and 40 SMS for 30 days for 2,900 rubles.

Additional services:

  • unlimited internet for 350 rubles per day; 
  • unlimited messengers for 100 rubles per day; 
  • 2 GB for 30 days for 1,000 rubles; 
  • 5 GB for 30 days for 2,000 rubles; 
  • 10 GB for 30 days for 3,500 rubles.


If you are a SberMobile subscriber, during your trip to the Emirates, 99 rubles will be deducted from your balance for every 100 MB, 55 rubles per minute for incoming and outgoing calls, and 15 rubles for sent SMS.

Additional services:

  • unlimited messengers for 139 rubles per day;
  • 500 MB per day for 450 rubles.

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If staying connected is important to you, you can subscribe to a package of 30 minutes per day for incoming calls for 59 rubles per day. Without this option, the cost of incoming calls in roaming will be 14.9 rubles per minute, and outgoing calls will be 29.9 rubles per minute. The cost of sending an SMS is one of the lowest among operators – only 5.9 rubles.

Additional internet traffic packages:

  • unlimited for messengers for 49 rubles per day; 
  • unlimited for Google navigation for 49 rubles per day;
  • 100 MB per day for 129 rubles; 
  • 1 GB for 7 days for 899 rubles;
  • 2 GB for 30 days for 1,299 rubles.
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Can I use VPN?

The use of VPN to access blocked services and websites in the UAE is prohibited by Law No. 34 of 2021 On Combating Rumors and Cybercrimes and is punishable by imprisonment. This primarily applies to activities such as online gambling and viewing pornographic materials, which are subject to stricter penalties.

Local operators block foreign programs that support VoIP protocols, so tourists and expatriates often use VPNs for calls through popular apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facetime. If you need to make an international call, use permitted services such as Zoom or Google Meet.

Violating the current law can result in a fine ranging from $14,000 to $540,000, and in extreme cases, imprisonment.

Which tariffs to choose in the UAE during your trip?  

In Dubai, mobile communication services are provided by only 3 operators: Etisalat, Du, and Virgin Mobile. All tourists aged 18 and older can receive a free SIM card with 20 MB of internet and up to 3 minutes of calls per day upon arrival at the passport control. If you need more data or minutes, you can purchase tourist plans from local operators at the airport, service centers, at a retail point in any shopping center, or order delivery on the official website.


Etisalat offers 4 tariff plans under the Visitor Line, ranging from $13 to $21. The plans include internet traffic from 2 GB to 22.5 GB and from 30 minutes of local calls.


You can purchase the Tourist Plan for 7 or 14 days from Du, costing from $15. The plan includes at least 20 minutes of calls within the UAE and at least 50 MB of data. Calls to Russian numbers will cost approximately $0.7 per minute.

Virgin Mobile  

Virgin Mobile provides a wide range of tariff plans for tourists:

  • 7 days of unlimited internet and 100 minutes for $55;
  • 14 days of unlimited internet and 300 minutes for $87;
  • SIM card valid for 28 days starting from $13. The plan includes at least 2 GB of internet and at least 30 minutes of calls.
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Tourist SIM cards with roaming


The SIM card from the DrimSim service allows you to use the internet in 190 countries. You can order either a physical card or an eSIM by scanning the QR code from the email sent immediately after purchase.

  • Cost of issuance: €10.
  • No subscription fee. 
  • Cost of internet in the UAE: €0.055/MB.
  • You can buy the SIM card and top up the balance using MIR, Visa, and Mastercard issued in Russia.
  • Only internet traffic is available to users. Calls or SMS cannot be made through DrimSim. 
  • Delivery to Moscow or St. Petersburg takes 1-2 working days, and for regions, it can take up to 14 days via registered mail. The delivery cost is automatically calculated on the website.


GlobalSim is a SIM card with internet access covering 140 countries.

  • Cost of issuance: from 2,000 rubles. 
  • The minimum package includes a card balance of $10. 
  • You can activate packages for 24 hours, 7, 14, or 30 days. 
  • Cost varies from $0.5 for 10 MB per day to $87 for 5 GB per month.
  • You can buy the SIM card and top up the balance with a credit card or through the Yu.Money and QIWI online wallets.


An international SIM card covering 130 countries. To activate the eSIM, you need to download the Airalo app, verify your identity by taking pictures of documents, choose a suitable tariff, and make the payment. After that, you can immediately use the SIM card.


  • Discover tariff. Internet only. From $9 for 1GB of traffic for 7 days to $69 for 20GB for 365 days. 
  • Discover+. Internet, calls, and SMS. The minimum tariff is $15 for 7 days: 1 GB, 10 minutes, 10 SMS. The most expensive is $89 for 365 days: 20 GB, 200 minutes, 200 SMS. 
  • Burj Mobile. Tariff with coverage only in the UAE. From $8.5 for 1 GB of traffic for 7 days to $35 for 5 GB per month.
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How to connect to Wi-Fi

To connect to Wi-Fi in cafes and hotels, usually, a local SIM card is not required: the activation code will be sent to your Russian SIM card or may not be required at all. In public places, such as malls and parks, connection may only be possible with a local number. The connection speed in such zones is usually not high, around 35 Mbps.

Procedure for connecting home Internet for expatriates  

To connect home internet, you need to contact the provider's office or fill out an application on the official website. The contract can be signed by individuals who have reached the age of 21. To connect, you will be asked to provide a package of documents.

  • Original passport with a residence visa or Emirates ID.
  • Lease agreement, property ownership certificate, or DEWA bill.
  • If the contract is not in your name, you need to provide an authorization letter and the Emirates ID of the client and the owner. 
  • Completed application for internet connection.

After signing the contract, you will need to make a payment of $55 for service activation. After that, equipment will be installed, and the proper functioning will be checked. The entire procedure takes up to 7 working days.

How to renew the contract when moving  

For an early termination of the contract with the internet service provider, you will have to pay a penalty. Many residents, when moving from one apartment to another, transfer their existing contract to avoid additional costs. The cost of this service for Du subscribers is $27, and for Etisalat subscribers, it is $40.

Before moving, you need to fill out an application in your personal account, indicating the new address, the planned date of the move, and the landline number in the new area, such as a cafe or a shop. Additionally, you need to attach scans of the new lease agreement or property ownership documents.

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What messengers work in Dubai?

As an alternative to the blocked WhatsApp in Dubai, you can use messengers such as Telegram, WeChat, or Viber. However, making calls or sending voice messages through these platforms is not possible – communication through them in the Emirates is limited to text format only.


The use of the internet in the UAE has certain peculiarities, but connecting to local providers won't take much of your time. If you are looking for real estate in Dubai from a developer for living or investment purposes, please contact our brokers; they will find the best offers for you. With love and without commission.