Visiting Dubai? From free SIM cards to shopping refunds, 6 things tourists must know

If you're a first time visitor, you're in for a treat


Elizabeth Gonzales

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Published: Sun 26 May 2024, 2:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Jun 2024, 6:00 PM

Dubai never runs out of novel things to entice visitors from all over the world, leaving them wanting more from the emirate that screams of vibrant life and energy.

If you're thinking of visiting Dubai, you're in for a treat. Not only will you experience amazing adventures and the city's diverse culture, you will also enjoy all the perks that come with being a Dubai tourist.

Here are things that will make your visit so much more fun:

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1. Free SIM card

You can pick up your free SIM card from the counter for any of the telecom operators when you cross the immigration at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

'Du', a telecom operator in Dubai, gives out a free 'Tourist Du SIM' that's valid for 90 days. The free SIM card comes with a 1GB free mobile data that's valid for 24 hours, allowing you to easily navigate the city, especially if you're travelling alone.

Local operators like Etisalat and Virgin Mobile also offer SIM cards tailored to your specific needs as a tourist. Etisalat grants a 28-day or 10-day option, while Virgin Mobile gives you a seven or 15-day option. You can decide according to what you may need in the duration of your stay.

2. Tourist discount card

Same for your SIM card, you can get your free discount card when you cross the immigration at the Dubai Airport.

You can download ALSAADA Tourist Card on your phone by scanning the barcode. When you've successfully installed the app, enter relevant information such as date of arrival in Dubai and passport number. The app will then generate the discount card under your name.

With this discount card, you can take advantage of special offers on car rentals, money exchange and bank promotions, and savings on products and services related to health and beauty.

3. Tax-free purchase

Tourists across the UAE are eligible for a tax-free purchase when they spend a minimum of Dh250.

While at the store, look for Planet logo when making a purchase, and ask for the Planet Tax Free form. Before paying, just present your passport to be scanned for use on the payment system. The shop assistant will then attach a 'Tax Free' tag to the back of the sales receipt.

Remember to validate your transaction at the airport within 90 days of the purchase date. However, you must leave the country within six hours of completing the validation process, otherwise your transaction will be cancelled.

4. VAT refund

When you shop at a Planet-partner store, you can request for a refund on VAT you paid on purchases you made during your stay in the country.

You can validate your purchase at the airport by submitting your tax invoices. Present a copy of your passport and your credit card to claim your refund either in cash in UAE dirhams, or have it refunded to your credit card.

However, you have to note that anything that you consumed, fully or partly in the country will not be refundable. Likewise, you can't request for a refund on products that aren't in your possession when when leaving the country.

5. Free parking

Tourists with special needs or people of determination (PoD) can take advantage of free public parking across Dubai for up to three months. You can apply for the service via RTA’s website or app, or in-person at any RTA customer happiness centre.

6. Taxi discount

You can also enjoy 50 per cent discount in your taxi fares when you apply for a Sanad card, a smart card issued by the authorities for PoD residents and tourists.

You can apply for the card through the Community Development Authority (CDA) official website or CDA Customer Happiness Centre. Make sure to present your passport, clear personal photo, and a copy of the the medical report or disability card from your home country.


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