Internet in the United Arab Emirates

internet in the UAE
Updated 2024-04-03 16:00

According to the Global Media Insight report, in 2023, 10.07 million out of the UAE's population of 10.17 million were active Internet users. There are various options for granting you internet access as an expatriate living in the UAE. Mobile internet users account for 9.2 million, while active social media accounts amount to 9.89 million. In June 2023, the UAE ranked first globally for the fastest mobile internet speed.

Telecommunications network in the UAE

There are several internet access options within the United Arab Emirates. Depending on where you have settled, you will have to choose a service provider based on coverage in your area. There are currently two providers, namely Etisalat and Du. Both companies have a set of optical fiber services, including a digital network. Furthermore, according to Etisalat, Abu Dhabi has the highest-speed fiber optic on the planet.

Types of Internet connections in the UAE

You can compare the various packages and offers from both providers. Ultimately, this will depend on the speed and type of connection you require. Depending on your package, you can connect to the Internet at 56 kb per second and up to 4 Mb per second. Regarding broadband, you will be entitled to an ISDN, ADSL, or even wired connection, including cable television.

Internet connectivity and Wi-Fi in the UAE

You can access free Wi-Fi in many hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and even shopping malls. Other wireless connections exist, such as prepaid Internet through broadband modems. You will simply need to recharge your account through prepaid cards.

If you do not have a phone, tablet, or laptop, you can also have access to the Internet in Internet cafés for a small fee.

Internet packages in the UAE

Rates vary according to the different internet service providers. If you sign up with one of them, you will have to pay a subscription fee of about 100 to 200 dirhams. Some operators charge per hour, especially for low-rate connections. Broadband connections cost between 100 and 500 AED per month. Rates are fixed in advance by the Internet company.

According to Etisalat, the packages start from AED 299 per month to AED 815 per month, depending on your package preference. This already includes the Internet, TV, and telephone.

Du is now offering an Internet-only package (which does not include any TV subscriptions) for AED 199 per month and a package that includes 12 months of Disney+, OSN+, and Amazon Prime free of charge for AED 349 per month.

To get your Internet subscription, you will need to visit one of Etisalat or Du's branches, and make sure to have your valid Emirates ID, valid residency visa, and valid tenancy contract on hand. Once you're at the branch, the representative will go through all the required paperwork and sign you up on the spot. After the initial registration process, they will arrange for a technician to visit your home and set up your router.

Censorship in the UAE

Many websites, like Wikipedia, have specific pages that are censored in the United Arab Emirates as all web pages go through the Emirates Proxy. Some content is blocked on the basis of being offensive regarding religions, morals, and the government. For example, dating sites, websites pertaining to gay communities as well as pornography websites are not accessible to users. All VoIP services (such as Skype, Viber and Facebook video), as well as some social networks, are not allowed either. Your Internet provider can offer internet calling packages which allow you to make voice and video calls through BOTIM, VOICO and GoChat Messenger.

Internet don'ts in the UAE

  • Viewing blocked content;
  • Accessing pornography, nudity and vices website;
  • Identity theft practices such as impersonation, fraud and phishing;
  • Insult, slander and defamation or cyberbullying, in general;
  • Invasion of privacy;
  • Medical and pharmaceutical practices which are in violation of the UAE law;
  • Content that seeks to attack or overthrow the government;
  • Fake news about the UAE government and economy;
  • Deal with drugs and other illegal substances;
  • Supporting criminal acts;
  • Contempt against people of other races, religion;
  • Sale of illicit items and services;
  • Gambling;
  • Solicitations such as donations and cash of any kind;
  • Terrorism;
  • Infringement of intellectual property rights.

For an Internet connection at home, you can download an application form online to request the service. You will need documents such as your passport and your residency visa.

Useful links:



Map of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Dubai

Map of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Abu Dhabi

Du Internet Calling Plan

Etisalat Internet Calling Plan

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