Phones in the United Arab Emirates

phones in the UAE
Updated 2021-11-12 12:48

If you are moving to the United Arab Emirates, you might be wondering how to keep in touch with friends and family back home. For a brief visit, your current mobile phone can be put on international roaming, but in the long run, this can get quite expensive. You may wish to switch to a local SIM card in the UAE, or even better, get a landline.

The good news is that the UAE has a fast and reliable telecommunications network. The government authority that oversees telecommunications in the country is the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority or TRA.

In 2020, the UAE ranked 7th in the Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII). The country also ranked first place in the Arab world and in 8th place internationally in the Online Service Index (OSI).

5G, or fifth generation, is also available in the country, as part of TRA's roadmap for 2016-2020.

The phone network in the UAE

With the increasing demand for digital lifestyle products, telecommunications in the UAE are only getting better. There are currently two providers for landlines: Etisalat and Du. The United Arab Emirates have more than 2 million landlines with only two service providers, Etisalat and Du. Etisalat has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi and was established four decades ago as the UAE's first telecommunications service provider. For a long time, it was a state monopoly until Du was introduced in 2006. Both companies have a set of optical fibre services, including a digital network. This is due to the rapid growth of the use of mobile phones in the country in the past few years. The cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most affected by this growth. Furthermore, according to Etisalat, Abu Dhabi has the highest speed fibre optic on the planet.

Making phone calls in the UAE

To call from abroad, you need to dial the UAE's international country code which is 971 and then the area code, followed by your correspondent's number. The area codes for the different emirates are as follows:

  • Abu Dhabi - 2
  • Al-Ain - 3
  • Dubai - 4
  • Sharjah, Umm-al-Quwain, Ras-al-Khaimah - 6
  • Fujairah - 9

If you are calling within one of the Emirates in the UAE to a local number, add a 0 in front of the area code. If you are in Dubai, for instance, and wish to call a local number within Dubai, simply dial the local number.


To call a mobile phone in the UAE from abroad, drop the 0 at the beginning of the prefix. Currently, mobile phone numbers in the UAE have prefixes such as 050, 055, and 056 if you are making a domestic call to a mobile number, dial with the 0.

Mobile phones in the UAE

The UAE uses the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) — which is the mobile communications protocol used in most of the world. So, to connect to most mobile networks in the UAE, your mobile phone will need to be GSM compatible. If it is — and if your phone is not locked with a specific carrier — you should be able to easily use it in the UAE by simply popping in a new SIM card.

As we've mentioned earlier, there are two main network providers in the UAE: Du (based in Dubai) and Etisalat (based in Abu Dhabi). Recently, both providers have launched virtual mobile networks: Virgin Mobile UAE (by Du) and Swyp (by Etisalat). Virtual networks let you sign up for a mobile service online: with everything from registering a SIM card to choosing a number done via the app.

Getting a landline in the UAE

It is an easy process to obtain a landline. You will need to contact the provider of your choice (either Etisalat or Du). Visit their store and bring along your passport with your residency visa, rental agreement (or proof of ownership if you own property), and a letter from your employer that states your income. It will then take a maximum of two days for a phone line to be installed at your residence.

Good to know:

Phone calls on landlines within the different emirates are free of charge.

Useful links:



Virgin Mobile UAE (by Du)

Swyp (by Etisalat)

Country Code

The Fifth Generation- 5G

Laws regulating the telecommunications sector in the UAE - TRA

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.