Telecommunications in the United Arab Emirates

It’s helpful to understand the telecommunications landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help your business gain a larger global presence. In this article, we’ll take a look at the telecommunications landscape of the UAE, as well as a solution for entrepreneurs that want to tap into the country’s vast opportunities for business.

Telecommunications in the United Arab Emirates at a Glance

In the UAE, telecommunications has been under the supervision and control of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority since 2003. Up until 2006, the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation monopoly (referred to as Etisalat) controlled the telecommunications in the UAE. Since then, there have been moves to establish a duopoly in the country, with the company Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (rebranded as du in 2007) acting as a sole competitor to Etisalat.

Currently, the UAE has over 4.1 million smartphone users, which makes up more than 40% of the population of the country (2018 estimates: 9.5 million citizens). This emphasis on telecommunications is reflected in the UAE’s wide acceptance of Internet-based usage, accounting for 97% of the population.

21st Century Telecommunications in the UAE with Virtual Phone Numbers

Now that you understand how telecommunications have functioned up to the present, you may want to know that foreign businesses can participate in a completely different way by leveraging the technology of “virtual phone numbers.” Due to advancements in 21st century Internet-based technology, like VoIP (“Voice over Internet Protocol”), virtual phone numbers have begun to dominate how foreign businesses can get in touch with global markets, no matter where their business is based.

Virtual phone numbers work as follows: when a caller dials a virtual phone number, the call is instantly routed to another phone number called the “destination phone number.” This destination phone number can be located anywhere around the world, which means that a business located thousands of miles away from the UAE has an equal chance of getting in touch with Emirati clients and businesses as domestic ones do. Furthermore, when a virtual phone number is coupled with an add-on known as “outbound calling,” a business can directly contact Emiratis while their caller ID shows a UAE-based phone number [country code: +971; area/ region code(s): XX XXXX XXXX].

United Arab Emirates virtual phone numbers are available from service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, allowing subscribers to modify their service to fit their business model. For instance, if your business is in the finance, investing, or banking sectors, then you are probably aware that in order to do international business, then you must have records of all communications between parties. With “call recording,” you can record inbound and outbound calls to ensure that not only is your business compliant with international governing authorities, but also to ensure that your customer service representatives are following your company’s procedures.

Increase Communications with Virtual Phone Numbers

Because of their ability to get in touch with Emirati customers and businesses, virtual phone numbers are doing away with the necessity of adhering to the UAE’s restrictive telecommunications sector and doing away with setting up a physical presence in the country. After all, as a foreign business, your organization’s options for setting up shop in the country’s “free zones” (located predominantly in Dubai) can come at a significant cost of time, money, and resources — all before you make a single profit. For startups and small businesses, this can be prohibitive for expansion efforts. In comparison, virtual phone numbers are extremely affordable and can provide a good idea of whether your foreign business would be accepted in the UAE — or whether setting up a physical branch office in the country’s borders is even worth the cost. With virtual phone numbers, you open up the possibilities for business expansion and save on overheads.

In conclusion, virtual phone numbers are a type of call forwarding service, enabling your business to reach the UAE no matter where it may be located with the same ease as a local business.

by Tom Senkus

Author’s Bio: Tom Senkus is an avid traveler and international business owner based in the United States. He seeks to share his knowledge of how startups and small businesses can expand their worldwide business presence in the most efficient manner possible. For more information, visit