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I'll soon be transiting twice through Dubai Airport Terminal 3 and would like to make a quick Skype video call back home while there. What are my options, free or paid? I'm open to wifi, Internet kiosks, local SIM, anything that gets the job done and doesn't cost an arm and a leg (read: roaming mobile data).

The always useless official DXB website claims "reliable and fast" free wifi, but the last time I passed through (Dec 2012) it was flakier than a Kelloggs factory, to the point of being impossible to even send an email, much less stream live video. Personal recent experience of it being usable at DXB peak hours (middle of the night) would be welcome though!

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    Last time I passed through DBX (this was in 2010 or 2011), the best wifi signal was just outside the first class lounge :) – Aleks G Jun 10 '14 at 13:04
  • Is paying to use a lounge an option? That ought to get you wifi, food, drinks and a shower! – Gagravarr Jun 10 '14 at 13:13
  • Anything reasonably priced is OK, but the ~$68 the Marhaba lounge appears to want for entry & shower is a wee bit steep. – lambshaanxy Jun 10 '14 at 13:15
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    You can find links online to get a year's Priority Pass for ~$50 (50% off), then it's $27/visit. For only one use that's a bit steep, but if you're going to head to a few lounges in the year it's not too bad – Gagravarr Jun 10 '14 at 15:17
  • To get a visitor sim card you'll need to get a VOA, because it is a required document to get a sim in the UAE.. so if you are transiting without a visa, not sure you can get this. – Nean Der Thal Jun 10 '14 at 16:05
5
+100

When I was last at T3 in Dubai, the terminal did have free wi-fi but it was excruciatingly slow.

Boingo hotspots are present in all terminals in Dubai International Airport. As per this article, it is the exclusive data provider.

Here is the Boingo coverage map:

enter image description here

Here are the specific details for the airport:

enter image description here


For a more long term option, and if you are a frequent traveller, consider purchasing a data stick from your home country that you could use in Dubai.

If you travel to Dubai often, consider purchasing a data stick from one of the two ISP's: Etisalat and Du.

  • Interesting, but do you know how much it costs? boingo.com/retail/boingo-wi-fi-plans says daily passes "vary by location". The $29.95/mo "Europe Plus" plan is too pricy, and $7.95 Mobile only isn't going to cut it. – lambshaanxy Jun 10 '14 at 22:39
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    ...but they've got a free plan for Amex cardholders. Ding ding ding, I think we have a winner! – lambshaanxy Jun 10 '14 at 22:40
  • ...except that neither of my two Amexen were eligible, apparently only US-issued Platinums will do. ausbt.com.au/… Back to square one =( – lambshaanxy Jun 11 '14 at 0:03
  • That's unfortunate. Do you have any frequent flyer status? – karancan Jun 11 '14 at 1:02
  • If jpatokal doesn't have any frequent flyer status, I don't know who does. =P – Aditya Somani Jun 11 '14 at 3:13
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I ended up going with Boingo as suggested by @karancan above. Specifically:

  1. I pre-purchased their $7.95/month "Mobile only" plan (this has to be done before you arrive in Dubai!)
  2. I paired my Android phone and Mac laptop
  3. On the phone, I turned on Bluetooth tethering (Settings > Wireless & Networks > Tethering > Bluetooth tethering)
  4. On the Macbook, I activated Bluetooth networking (System Preferences > Networks > Bluetooth PAN)

And ta-dah, full Internet access from laptop and mobile phone, at rather decent speeds too. The only minor wart is that you have to login again if you move from one hotspot to another.

Disclaimer: This is probably against the T&Cs ;)

  • You'll get faster speeds by USB tethering. And this charges your battery! – Michael Hampton Feb 9 '16 at 0:56
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Update 13 Sep 2014. It took one hour twenty minutes to get access to Boingo when the airport was less than half full. Boingo is a joke and the sooner Emirates ditch their contract the better. I have used DXB for 10 years and it has always worked OK. Since Boingo took over the operation it is crap.

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    Can you clarify what exactly took 80 minutes? Were you already signed up to Boingo? – lambshaanxy Sep 14 '14 at 11:50
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Just went through DXB and Boingo has a 60 minute free Wifi option. It worked pretty well, including sending iMessage, Skype Video calls and Facebook. Also, once my 60 minutes was up, I got another 60 minutes free and continued to use it.

This is 8 Feb 2016 at about 7:30pm

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I will be travelling through Dubai Airport twice within next 4 weeks. It's not bad considering only 4.98$ for unlimited WiFi service on Mobile at airport (one month Boingo subscription which I can cancel anytime). Signed up for $4.98 plan and I will give update on service experience.enter image description here

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