Essential UAE services

Dewa, internet, alcohol licence, air conditioning and more places to help you settle in Dubai


You’ve found a place to live, but now you need to get connected. Read on to find out how to get everything up and running.

Electricity & water
To get connected, head to any Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) office (all listed on the website, together with your DEWA number (found on your front door frame for apartments, or your gate if you live in a villa), copies of your passport, your tenancy agreement and a deposit of either Dhs1,000 for an apartment or Dhs2,000 for a villa. Bills are calculated by monthly meter readings, and you can pay your bill in person at any DEWA office, at most petrol stations, or set up an online account (visit The electricity supply in the UAE is 220/240V, and sockets are generally the three-pin British version.

Water from taps is desalinated sea water. It’s safe to drink, but most people prefer to buy bottled water, as it’s relatively cheap. Many purchase a water cooler for use with five-gallon bottles as a convenient and economical solution, with most water suppliers delivering refill bottles direct to your door and then collecting empty ones. Some suppliers provide prepaid coupons, so you don’t have to be at home when they deliver or brave the desert heat – you can just leave the empty bottle and a coupon outside your door.

Air conditioning
If your pad is located in flashy complexes such as Jumeirah Beach Residence, your air conditioning supply is sourced from a district cooling plant. You will usually need to pay a refundable service connection fee of around Dhs2,000 and pay quarterly consumption charges based on how much you use – in addition to your DEWA bills. If you are renting, the landlords will pay the set-up fee, but you will need to transfer the A/C into your name and pay the deposit. You will need your passport and the original sales and purchase agreement or tenancy contract. (Some places do include A/C in the rent, so be sure to check with the landlord). If you live in Old Dubai, your air conditioning costs will be tied in with your electricity bill.

There are no gas mains in Dubai, so you have to buy individual canisters if you have a gas cooker. Those orange trucks rattling round town like little weapons of mass destruction will deliver to your door and connect/refill a canister for you. A new can costs about Dhs300, while a refill can costs Dhs60-70. You can find a list of distributors through the Emirates Gas website,

Phones & internet
It’s either a blessing or a curse, but UAE residents aren’t spoiled for choice when it comes to telecoms. There are two companies operating in the country: du and Etisalat. Both offer mobile packages as well as internet deals, while landline to landline calls are free. To install a landline, you need a copy of your passport, the original and a copy of your valid Emirates ID card, and a no objection letter from your sponsor, and then pay the fee (Dhs180 for Etisalat). Connection will usually take around three days. Etisalat is the main provider of internet access (from Dhs199 for installation), although you can also opt for du (from Dhs200). If you want to connect you will need a copy of your passport and Emirates ID. Once you’re all connected, paying bills is less of a chore than you might imagine. Bills are paid monthly; aside from going directly to Etisalat, you can pay online or via the telephone with most major banks. For more information, visit and

Mobile phones
Etisalat and du are the only two mobile phone providers in the UAE. Most people opt for a pre-pay system, where credit can be topped up online or at supermarkets. For a pay-as-you-go SIM card, visit any Etisalat or du office and take with you a copy of your passport and UAE visa/entry stamp. For a contract phone, you’ll need to head to an Etisalat or du store and take with you the above documents as well as a salary letter. For more information, visit and

Liquor licence
To legally buy and consume alcohol in the UAE, you must be non-Muslim, over the age of 21 and resident in Dubai, and earn over Dhs3,000 per month. Application forms for licences (valid for a year) can be found at any Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI) or African & Eastern (A&E) store.

You will need to get the form stamped and signed by your employer and then submit it at any store together with a passport photo, a copy of your passport, residence visa and tenancy contract (or a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from your landlord), as well as your labour contract issued by the Ministry of Labour. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide a copy of your Trade Licence. The application costs Dhs160, and can take up to three months to process (although normally it’s much quicker than this). To renew your licence when it expires after a year, simply complete an application form and then submit this together with a copy of your tenancy contract.

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