Mobile phone internet
Illustrative image Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, staying connected is key. However, when you don’t have a data pack or run out of the allowance, it is not very hard to get online again and that too for free. Users with local and international numbers can access these Wi-Fi spots.

While Wi-Fi UAE is linked with telecom providers, you can also get online on public beaches, malls, cafes and restaurants in the UAE.

Free Wi-Fi across UAE

Wi-Fi UAE is country-wide initiative linked to UAE Vision 2021. The aim of this initiative was to provide a free, high-speed wireless internet connection that people could access through their smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Telecom providers Etisalat and du are partners of the initiative, and depending on which provider your sim is linked to, you can get online and for free. Here, we break down how you can get connected to the internet for free in spots closest to you.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop or while doing any kind of banking transactions. Using a security VPN can help secure your information. In addition to this, always use websites with an SSL certificate (https:/) in case it requires any login or other process. Cybercriminals have also been known to use public WiFi networks to prey on victims who are unaware of the risks involved when using open networks.

Wi-Fi UAE with Du – Free

Wi-Fi UAE with du is available at public transport stations such as metro stations, bus stations and other public spaces across Dubai, along with various other locations across the country serviced by du across UAE. You can connect to this service regardless of whether you are a du subscriber or not.

Find a hotspot location. All metro stations, many bus and tram stations, and beaches such as Kite Beach and Umm Suqeim Beach are hotspots. Theme parks, malls and business centres are also on the list. Select your area, type of location and emirate to find the spot closest to you.

In Dubai RTA Taxis and Abu Dhabi Buses WiFi UAE users can have 50MB of free Internet access per day per user. However, in other WiFi UAE locations each internet session is 60 minutes, after which a sponsored advertisement will play. After the advertisement, you can enjoy another 60 minutes of free WiFi again.

Select your network

When in a hotspot, switch on your Wi-Fi and look for “@WiFi UAE from du”. Select ‘WiFi UAE Free’ and enter your mobile number. Usually, when you switch on your Wi-Fi, the login window should automatically pop up. Wait for that to appear, and if it doesn’t do so immediately open your web browser and go to

Make sure you select the right Wi-Fi network. According to previous Gulf News reports, cybercriminals tend to set up WiFi hotspots, often with innocent-sounding names, such as ‘Free Public WiFi', that con users into logging in. Once people connect their devices to the network, all the information can be hacked.

Select either Wi-fi UAE Free or Premium Wi-Fi (paid). If you are a first time user, you have to enter all your details including phone number, nationality, age, gender and such other information. This phone number is where you’ll receive your OTP (one-time pin). For a repeat user, you will only have to enter your phone number to get the pin.

International number

If you use an international number, there are a few additional steps. After entering the WiFi OTP you will be redirected to the UAE “SmartPass” page where you need to enter your passport number, nationality and date of birth which will need to be cross-checked before you get connected. This is only required once from a user.

Wi-Fi UAE premium (du)

The main difference between the free Wi-FI and the premium version is the speed. The complimentary WiFi service speed is 512Kbps while the premium version is high-speed and comparable to broadband speeds. Free Wi-Fi starts with a five-minute premium service for free every time you connect. After the free period, your connection speed slows down but if you're moving around a lot, that shouldn't be a problem as you can just reconnect again.

Premium Wi-Fi costs Dh5 for a day of unlimited use, while Dh25 will get you 7 days’ worth of unlimited use. The process is the same except that payment is required and can be made through a GCC credit card, your du account balance or through a du recharge card. So, unless you’re a du subscriber or a GCC card-holder, you won’t be able to access the premium Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi UAE with Etisalat

You can get the Etisalat hotspot location map here. Remember to put in which emirate you're in in the drop down menu to find the hotspots closest to you.

For Etisalat serviced hotspots, there is a catch. To get your free internet, you have to have a data subscription package with Etisalat to avail of the free internet. Depending on your existing package you can use the Wi-Fi for free from 5 to 20 hours, for packages starting at 1GB to over 10GB.

Data subscribers of 1GB to less than 4GB of data get 5 hours of free Wi-Fi, those with 4GB to less than 10GB get 20 hours of free Wi-Fi while subscribers having data packages of 10GB or above get 30 hours of free Wi-Fi.

I don’t have an Etisalat data pack

If you don't have a data subscription or are not an Etisalat subscriber, you can still use the Wi-Fi but you'll have to pay Dh5 per day which gives you unlimited access.

Switch your Wi-Fi on and go to your web browser. If you're in a Wi-Fi hotspot of Etisalat, the browser should take you to a sign up or login page. Enter your details and your Etisalat number. You will receive a pin number from Etisalat which you can then use as the password enter to get connected. Enter your mobile number as the login name.

A timer starts when you start using the Wi-Fi so you can check how many free hours you have left and use economically. In case you’re purchasing the Wi-Fi package (no Etisalat data pack or not Etisalat customer), you can purchase the package using your credit card, Wasel recharge card or your Etisalat Prepaid/Postpaid account balance.

Wi-Fi in shopping malls

Most malls in the UAE have their own free Wi-Fi for shoppers and visitors. This Wi-Fi, while not as fast as a standard connection, can easily help you stay connected.

Cafes and restaurants

Some cafes offer a free Wi-Fi password to their dine-in customers. This is usually available for coffee shops and locations that target freelancers or others who may choose to work out of the café, including big-chain cafes such as Starbucks, Costco, Jamaica Blue etc.

Buses and metro

A total of 520 public buses now have free Wi-Fi for passengers including 410 buses in Abu Dhabi and 110 buses in Al Ain. You can also get high-speed internet at metro stations across Dubai. This is the Wifi UAE option mentioned earlier.

Public beaches, parks and Dubai water canal

Many public beaches and parks in Dubai have free Wi-Fi and charging stations. You may spot a palm-shaped structure in some spots, called the Smart palm. The solar-powered structure has free Wi-Fi and charging spots. You can also get free Wi-Fi on the Dubai Canal walkway.