Keeping in Touch in Abu Dhabi

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Internet connectivity is generally reliable and expats will find that keeping in touch in Abu Dhabi is quite easy, although relatively expensive compared to what some expats may be used to. Internet, telephone, mobile phone and post are available and service standards are quite good.

Two companies hold the monopoly over both telephone and Internet services in the UAE, namely ETISALAT (the National Telecommunications Company) and the relatively new rival on the market since 2006, DU. ETISALAT was the only provider for a long time and whether consumers wanted or not, there was no choice to submit to the monopolistic approach: high prices, not very good services and limited tech support. However, in the last two to three years, since DU received some notoriety and expanded their network, ETISALAT has been forced to improve and review its attitude, creating a more customer focused environment and increasing the service quality. 

Landline telephones in Abu Dhabi

ETISALAT is still the main provider of landline telephone connections in the UAE. DU was recently awarded the right to provide landlines, and now offers landline installation services, but their coverage is not as wide in Abu Dhabi as it is in Dubai, and ETISALAT is still the most widely used, enjoying the privileges a competitor has brought to the market. Landlines are not widely used in the UAE, with mobile phones being dominant when it comes to keeping in touch.
A request for a landline installation is usually done by the building owner – which will be an Emirati national, or a company – and any apartment or house generally has one when it is rented out. If there isn’t one, a request can be made directly at the ETISALAT main office in central Abu Dhabi, and the application can be downloaded from the website. Landlines and Internet can be installed as fast as the next day after you’ve requested them. If you’re a bit pushy, you can even get them the same day.
Long-distance calls form a landline can be expensive. Calls between landlines within the UAE are relatively cheap, and, depending on the package you are on, vary from free on a postpaid landline, where you pay only the rental of 180AED/year to a 170 AED/year on a prepaid landline. Payments can be done via the ETISALAT website or through online banking – as all banks in Abu Dhabi offer bills payment methods on their sites.
DU also has a “home phone recharge card”, with an extraordinary “Call the world for just 1 fills per second from your home landline” offer.

Mobile telephones in Abu Dhabi

Mobile phones are the most common method of communication in the UAE. As both ETISALAT and DU offer similar services, the only comprehensive difference is in coverage by their respective networks. And here the clear advantage goes to ETISALAT. On the other hand, DU has excellent packages for roaming, significantly cutting costs for expats wanting to keep their numbers from their home country. Expats are able to apply for mobile phone contracts, but “pay as you go” services remain more common.
Mobile phone coverage in the UAE is extremely good, both nationally and internationally. Both ETISALAT and DU offer a variety of plans and services. ETISALAT offers prepaid SIM cards for 40 AED. This can be recharged with cards of 25-200 AED, which can be bought from any grocery store. As for a postpaid SIM, it comes with charges starting at 125 AED per month, with a cost of 0.24 AED/min in off-peak hours.
DU, on the other hand, offers a prepaid SIM at 55 AED with a charge of 135AED as a bonus and the postpaid one comes with a fee of 25 AED/month and an excellent 0.5 fills/sec.

Internet connectivity in Abu Dhabi

Internet connectivity in Abu Dhabi can be slow. When it comes to internet speed, the best offer comes from ETISALAT, a broadband service called Al Shamil, at 30 MBps with an exorbitant charge of 699 AED/month. Let’s not forget the 200 AED fee for installing/buying the modem. It has a few more benefits but they are certainly not impressive enough to warrant such a price – as compared to services offered in other countries.
ETISALAT offers a broad spectrum of Internet options, including 3G and 4G internet access, as well as Broadband Internet services and prepaid and post-paid dialup. DU has yet to offer any broadband service in Abu Dhabi, and covers only mobile Internet. It offers Wi-Fi hotspots at a minimum of 10 AED/hour or prepaid cards starting at 20 AED/3 hours. If in need of mobile net, you can opt for their internet key, with starting prices of 199 AED for 2 MB included memory at a speed of 7.2 MBps. The prices only go up from here until they reach a 699 AED for a speed of 42 MBps.

Social networking and censorship in Abu Dhabi

Censorship is still common in Abu Dhabi, with numerous web sites blocked in the emirate. Any material deemed to be offensive or inconsistent with the religious or political or moral values of the UAE is blocked. Skype, pornographic web sites and gambling and dating sites are blocked. However, most of the main social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are accessible.
Regardless of blocking, Skype and other VOIP services are widely used by expats in Abu Dhabi. If the program is already installed on your laptop, it could still work, but downloading Skype directly onto your computer while in Abu Dhabi is not possible. Some expats circumvent this by going through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or creating a proxy; a not entirely legal route, but one often followed by those wanting to keep in touch with back home. 
Most other applications for messaging, including Blackberry Messenger, are widely used and the best method to keep in touch in Abu Dhabi and find out the latest news. 

Postal and courier services in Abu Dhabi

Although traditional postal services are not very common nowadays, this service is very reliable in the UAE; postal services are used primarily for important documents sent by couriers. Couriers are usually on time, and the hassle is minimal. Shipping packages or sending letters overseas is also easy. However, there is no home mail delivery; you have to pick your mail up from the post office. Couriers are used for most home deliveries, such as credit cards. Utility bills are usually not mailed; they are available online. Junk mail is delivered by courier services.

English media and news in Abu Dhabi

English-language media is readily available in the UAE; The National and Gulf Times are English language dailies. A number of other English magazines and newspapers are also readily available, including Aquarius, Out Abu Dhabi, Masala and Abu Dhabi Week. There are also English radio and television stations.
Access to English language television channels is quite good, including the Dubai-based Dubai One, as well Fox Channel, MBC and the BBC.

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