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Communications for Expats in the United Arab Emirates

Submitted: January 2014

Having moved to a new country, one of the first tasks that newcomers consider essential is the setting up of telecommunication services. After all, being connected to persons both in your new home as well as your home country will make the transition infinitely easier. While there is always the option of using your mobile phone from your home country, when one takes into account the inevitably high roaming charges, it is recommended that you consider setting up a plan in the UAE.

Unfortunately, it should be noted that the UAE has one of the most expensive telecommunication services in the world .

Selecting a telecommunications provider in the UAE should be straightforward as there are only two providers, Du (du) and Etisalat, with the former being a relatively new entrant into this industry. Please refer to the links below for the main websites of these providers:

It should be noted upfront that your choice of internet or landline services may be predetermined depending on your place of abode. Some building complexes may already have landlines with a particular provider.

Mobile Phones

If you choose to have a cellular phone in the UAE, you can choose between prepaid or post-paid options. For a list of plans of both providers, please refer to the links below:

In order to register with any provider, you can visit their websites or visit their shops or an authorised dealer. To find out more information on location a shop close to you, please see the links below:

You will be required to pay a subscription fee in order to obtain a post-paid plan. Please be advised that these plans are only available to persons over 21 years of age. Required documents for obtaining a post-paid plan for expatriates include:

  • Passport with valid Residency VISA or UAE National ID and one of the following:
  • Credit card issued by UAE institution
  • Utility bill with physical address less than 3 months old
  • Copy of tenancy/ownership contract.If you're a tenant please bring along a copy of "Tenancy Contract Information Registration Certificate"(Ejari) by RERA. A stamped copy is not necessary.
  • Payslip/ Letter from employer showing a salary of minimum AED 2,500 per month.

When choosing your mobile phone provider it is essential that you enquire about the various contract lengths should you opt for the post-paid option, as you do not want to be locked into a contract unnecessarily.

The monthly cost of post-paid plans can range from 50AED to 500AED. For a comparison between the post-paid plans of Etisalat and Du, including cost and services, please refer to the following link below:

Please be advised that, there is no age restriction with regards to prepaid plans and you only need to provide a valid passport with a UAE VISA or valid Emirates ID. For an overview of prepaid plans in the UAE, see the link below:

Landline

You can contact one of the providers listed above in order to obtain information regarding landline plans. In order to get connected with a landline, you would need to provide the documents required for post-paid mobile plans which are mentioned above. Please note that with Etisalat, local and national calls are unlimited and free but numbers which begin with 600, 700, 9000 and 181 are not included. The average cost includes an installation fee (approximately 180AED) followed by a monthly fee of approximately 40 AED. If you choose Du, local calls are free but national calls are billed at .3-.6 fils/second. Their installation fee is 50 AED and there is no monthly fee.

Internet

Etisalat offers plans ranging from 199 AED to 259 AED depending on monthly usage and download speed. The download speeds on these broadband packages are quite low.  Du and Etisalat offer faster download speeds when the internet service is bundled with other telecommunication services such as television or telephone. These bundles can be a cost effective way of meeting all your telecommunication needs. The packages can range from 300AED up to 5000 AED per month:

Please refer to the following resource to compare internet rates:

If you choose not to sign up for an internet plan but may require the service from time to time you can visit one of the many internet cafes in the UAE. Please refer to the link below for a list of internet cafes and their contact information:

 

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