Mobile phone internet
How you can activate roaming services, and how to choose data roaming packs for your mobile in the UAE. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: If you are planning to go on a holiday, make sure you have your mobile connectivity needs sorted, by activating the roaming services on your phone. Telecommunications service providers in the UAE offer easy ways for users to subscribe to roaming services through different online options, where you can choose the data or call allowance as per your travel needs.

Here is a quick guide on how you can activate roaming services, and how to choose data roaming packs for your mobile in the UAE.


If you are an Etisalat user, chances are that your roaming services would have already been activated on your phone, when your phone line was issued. However, if you have previously deactivated international roaming, you would need to call 101 to activate them before you travel.

How to enable data roaming on your phone

For iOS devices, go to Settings > Cellular Data Options > and switch on Data Roaming.
For Android devices, go to Settings > Mobile network > select the SIM > and switch on Data Roaming.

Before you travel – purchase the ‘roaming add-on’

On its website,, the service provider states: “We highly recommend purchasing a roaming add-on before you travel.”

This add-on clearly lets you know how much you will pay for the service, and the data and call allowance you will get, while you are travelling. You can select your add-on package through the following ways:

- ‘My Etisalat UAE’ app, which is available for Apple, Android and Huawei devices. Open the app, and select your account. Then select the ‘add-on’ option, to choose the package you wish to subscribe to.
- Dial *177# and then select from daily, weekly or monthly roaming packs.
- Visit Etisalat website – Go to ‘my account’ on the top right, and click on ‘sign in’ and then click on your account. Select the ‘add-on’ from the purchased subscriptions.

You can also call the etisalat customer care hotline at 101, which is also accessible for free when you are abroad.

What should I do if I cannot connect to a roaming partner network?

Once you reach your destination and the phone does not connect to a roaming partner network at your destination, Etisalat recommends restarting your phone. If you have set your mobile network selection to ‘automatic’, your phone will connect to the best available network.

You can also turn off the automatic selection and you will be prompted with a list of all available networks.


Before you travel, send an SMS with the text ‘roaming’ to 5102, to check if your line is activated with roaming services. If you want to buy a roaming bundle, make sure you check the preferred partners in the country you are travelling to. Also, you need to have a 3G/4G/5G phone to use your roaming data bundles abroad.

Then, make sure the Data Roaming option is enabled on your phone, by going to settings, and then ‘Data Roaming’ and switch on the option.

Du also recommends setting up a PIN for your phone and SIM, in case they are lost or stolen. In case your phone is lost or stolen, report it by calling du immediately on +971555678155 so that your line can be suspended for five days, to prevent the misuse of your line.

How to subscribe to a data roaming package

You can subscribe to the data roaming pack through:

1. The website –
2. The du smartphone application, which is available for Apple, Android and Huawei devices.
3. By calling 155
- Click on the three dots next to the name of your plan
- Select Manage Roaming
- Choose the destination you are travelling to and then activate roaming.

Once you reach your destination, du recommends that you restart your phone after which your phone will automatically connect to one of the local networks. If it doesn’t, you can manually search for the network on your phone’s settings and connect to the desired network.

You will then receive a welcome message and can check your data balance on the ‘du’ app or on the website

You should regularly receive SMS notifications when you have used up 70 per cent, 80 per cent and 100 per cent of your bundle.

Virgin mobile

If you are a Virgin Mobile user, you can choose your roaming data through the Virgin Mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android devices. Once you log in, you will get two options to choose from:

1. ‘Roam Like Home’ roaming pass

With this option, you don't need to buy any additional roaming packs; all you need to do is activate a Roaming Pass through the Virgin Mobile app to start using your local data and international minutes, which can be used in over 140 countries.

2. Subscribe to roaming packs

You can buy separate roaming data or minutes through the Virgin Mobile app starting, depending on the data and call allowance you need, as well as the duration of travel.