Traveling to the UAE or just visiting Dubai and flying to Sharjah Airport? This is a complete guide for buying a sim card at Sharjah Airport on arrival. Don't waste money on high roaming charges, get yourself a local prepaid sim card for the UAE on arrival or an e-sim card to stay connected. Find out everything about buying a sim card at Sharjah Airport, including a vlog about my arrival, where to buy a UAE sim card, up to date prices as per August 2023, my recommendation and even info about international sim cards for the UAE.
Being a full time nomad and world traveler since 2012 I aim to provide useful information and tips to makea traveling cheaper for fellow travelers. To help people planning their trips I already wrote more than 200 sim card guides for finding the best ways to stay connected in for example: USA, Europe, Hong Kong, Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa, Costa Rica, Turkey, London, Paris and many more.
Of course I also wrote a guide for buying a sim card for Dubai in 2023 and you can also find a guide for buying a sim card at Abu Dhabi Airport. If for some reason you will miss the opportunity at Sharjah Airport then the Dubai sim card guide is particular very helpful.
Why buying a sim card at Sharjah Airport
When traveling to the UAE there is WiFi almost everywhere and yes it is fast and reliable. Still though I recommend you to stay connected when traveling to the UAE. Foremost reason is that while you are out and about there is no WiFi. Ordering an Uber becomes impossible, as well as getting directions from Google Maps or finding nearby friends. Also think about emergencies, checking your banking apps, travel planning on the road, finding nearby restaurants, etc.
Keep in mind that browsing the internet on public WiFi is through an UNSECURED network, the use of a VPN is recommended.
When buying a local prepaid sim card for the UAE at Sharjah Airport or getting an e-sim card you will connect to the available 4G/5G network, a secured connection and therefore safer to roam the internet than public WiFi.
Traveltomtom recommends buying a DU prepaid sim card at Sharjah Airport for 139 AED ($38 USD) with 10 GB data for 28 days.
However, based on your data consumption and the length of your stay there are a couple more options to consider. The cheapest sim card at Sharjah Airport costs 49 AED ($13 USD), but that is not the cheapest way to stay connected. In 2023 the cheapest way to stay connected when traveling to the UAE is an e-sim card, because there already is an e-sim card for the UAE starting from just $8.5 USD.
Another alternative is a so called world travel sim card with international coverage. There are some great sim card deals for travelers in 2023. Check the article in the link and find a comparison of the best international sim card in 2023. Pick the one that suit your trip to the Middle East.
Best e-sim cards for UAE
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to the UAE in 2023 is an e-sim card. You arrange everything online within just a couple minutes. No more swapping physically sim cards or visiting a store. A so called e-sim card is literally just a QR code that you instal on your phone. Simple, fast and easy!
The following data-only e-sim cards for the UAE are offered by Burj Mobile. They operate on both the Etisalat and the DU network.
- 1 GB for 7 days = $8.5 USD
- 3 GB for 30 days = $22.5 USD
- 5 GB for 30 days = $35 USD
Click here to directly order an e-sim card for the UAE online.
The above e-sim cards are from Burj Mobile and they operate on the 4G/LTE network of Etisalat.
On another website I found the following international e-sim card deals that also work in the United Arabic Emirates and 70 more countries:
- 3 GB for 30 days = $24.9 USD
- 5 GB for 30 days = $34.9 USD
- 6 GB for 15 days = $39.9 USD
Click here to order the above international e-sim card deals for the UAE.
With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number, but make sure your phone is unlocked and e-sim compatible otherwise an e-sim card won't work in your phone.
Where to buy a sim card at Sharjah Airport
When going through customs you will get to the baggage hall where you will find the first opportunity to buy a prepaid sim card for the UAE. Sharjah Airport is very small and at luggage belt 4 you will see a small Etisalat kiosk.
Surprisingly there is another and much bigger Etisalat shop when you walk out through the sliding doors of the arrival hall on your right side. On your left hand side in the corner there is a small Virgin Mobile store.
Last but not least there is also a DU store at Sharjah Airport. To reach the DU store you will have to walk out of the arrival hall and then walk into the departure hall the door directly on your left when walking out.
As you can see there are multiple opportunities for buying a UAE sim card at Sharjah Airport. See the vlog below to make it even easier for you to find the right shop.
Prices UAE sim cards at Sharjah Airport
All the info and prices below are updated in August 2023. In the UAE they use the AED (Arabic Emirates Dirham) and 10 AED = $2.7 USD and $1 USD = 2.67 AED
Etisalat sim card Sharjah Airport
Both Etisalat shops sell the exact same prepaid sim card packages for tourist. The sim card is included in the following tourist deals:
- 49 AED = 2 GB data + 30 minutes - valid for 28 days
- 79 AED = 4 GB data + 30 minutes - valid for 28 days
- 125 AED = 6 GB data + 120 minutes - valid for 28 days
- 200 AED = 22.5 GB data + 525 minutes - valid for 28 days
All the sim cards come with a free gift of 100 AED Careem credit, which is the Uber from the Middle East, a very reliable taxi app.
DU sim card Sharjah Airport
The DU sim cards are also free at Sharjah Airport when buying one of their prepaid sim card deals for tourists:
- 49 AED = 2 GB data + 30 minutes worldwide - valid for 28 days
- 139 AED = 10 GB data + 30 minutes worldwide - valid for 28 days
- 299 AED = Unlimited data for 10 days
The DU starter package is the exact same price as the Etisalat tourist package. The bigger data deals give you more value for money though.
Virgin Mobile sim card Sharjah Airport
At Virgin Mobile they offer a bunch of data packages for tourists, many more than DU and Etisalat however, their starting price is much higher. A Virgin Mobile sim card is also free when buying one of the following packages:
- 150 AED = 21 GB data + 30 minutes UAE + 20 minutes international - valid for 7 days
- 200 AED = 40 GB data + 30 minutes UAE + 20 minutes international - valid for 10 days
- 300 AED = 75 GB data + 30 minutes UAE + 20 minutes international - valid for 15 days
The above sim cards give you a certain amount of GB's per day, see the photo above.
On top that they even have another wide range of sim cards with data available and they are all monthly packages, valid for 28 days:
- 14 GB data + 50 minutes UAE + 50 minutes international = 189 AED
- 30 GB data + 50 minutes UAE + 50 minutes international = 299 AED
- 44 GB data + 50 minutes UAE + 50 minutes international = 357 AED
- 56 GB data + 50 minutes UAE + 50 minutes international = 420 AED
- 100 GB data + 50 minutes UAE + 50 minutes international = 656 AED
Virgin Mobile has many packages, so depending on your use and length of stay it is worth checking out.
Best sim card at Sharjah Airport
If you want to go for the cheapest prepaid UAE sim card at Sharjah Airport then you have to go to either DU or Etisalat. They will give you 2 GB for just 49 AED = $13 USD. But if you can survive with just 1 GB data on your trip to the UAE then check out buying an e-sim card for the UAE as they already start from just $8.5 USD.
If 1 or 2 GB data is not enough then I would then you should check out Virgin Mobile. Etisalat and DU give you pretty much the same value for money and have the same data plans available for tourists. But when you want a lot of data then Virgin Mobile becomes cheaper.
When you plan to use a lot of GB and you only stay short term then head to the Virgin Mobile shop and get yourself 21 GB for 150 AED = $41. This package however is only valid for 7 days.
All network providers have excellent 5G network coverage in the UAE, see my article about the best prepaid sim card for Dubai in 2023 for more about the best network in the UAE.
Buying a sim card for UAE online
There is also the option to buy a prepaid sim card for the United Arabic Emirates on the internet. You order online and this prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address.
- 10 GB data in UAE for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order this international prepaid sim card for the UAE directly online.
This sim card is automatically activated from its first use and will be send to your home address before your trip. It is plug and play. That means as soon as the plane touches the ground in Sharjah, you put the sim card in your phone and it starts working.
Also a last reminder that you can order an e-sim card for Dubai directly online and keep your own phone number. No swapping physical sim cards. Click on the link for more info.
Curious what it looks like arriving at Sharjah Airport and buying a sim card for the UAE then check out my vlog below.
Follow my adventure to visit every country in the world, click on the link to see my progress or check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom for more tips on the best places to visit and things to do in Dubai. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
If you have any more questions please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media.
Enjoy your trip to the UAE!