How to pay your Etisalat bill in Al Ain

You have a number of options when it comes to paying your Etisalat mobile phone or Internet bill.

First option…

  • Go to the main Etisalat building
  • Tell the receptionist that you want to pay a bill
  • Get a ticket from him/her
  • Wait in line in the correct area they point out to you
  • Provide your phone number
  • Hear the amount owed
  • Pay

Second option…

  • Find an Etisalat payment machine: there’s one in Jimi Mall next to the far right entrance.
  • Enter your landline number to see what you owe for your Internet account (which starts with 03). Or enter your mobile phone number to see the bill for that.
  • Feed in bank notes to pay your bill.
  • Collect the receipt.

Very roughly, if you let a bill go over 1,000 or 2,000 dirhams your account will be suspended, so it’s best to pay these bills regularly!

Let me know if you know of other places where there is a payment machine, or any other info to improve this article.

Getting eLife from Etisalat in Al Ain

Most of Al Ain has been re-wired for optical fibre, so if you want a fast broadband connection, you can get, say, an 8mb connection for less than an 8mb copper wire connection would have cost you last year.

Be aware that you will need to direct the installers to your home by phone. This isn’t helped by the fact that these people speak very little English! :)

So I arranged to meet my installers at the nearby Al Ain Paradise Gardens, or at the ‘zoo roundabout’ and let them follow me to our home.

But when another gang needed to come to do the next part of the job, they were starting from scratch, so they had no idea where they were coming, so we had the usual series of conversations before we got to the point that they understood where we would meet.

Me: “We’ll meet at the zoo roundabout, yes?”

Installer: “Hello?”

Me: “Zoo roundabout?”

Installer: “Okay”

Me: “When will you be there? In 5 minutes? 10 minutes?”

Installer: “Yes”

…etc etc! :)

We’re on a plot of land with 2 villas on it. The villa next to us had an optical fibre cable running to it. But the installers told me that there was no optical fibre cable running across to our building. They would happily dig up the flagged driveways, but I would have to drive into Sanaiya to buy a few metres of plastic corrugated piping 2 inches across for the optical fibre cable to run through! :)

So off I went to buy it!

A team of 4 workers spent ALL DAY digging up the flag stones, most of the time taken up with trying to put the tightly packed flags back into place again.

Their English may not be great but, boy!, do they work hard in the scorching sun!!

I bought these Indian/Bangladeshis bottles of water and a couple of packets of dry Digestive biscuits: they’re not keen on chocolate or sugar coating which amazed me.

Directory enquiries via Etisalat in Al Ain

You can ring Directory Enquiries at Etisalat by dialling 181.

Be aware that their database isn’t as extensive and up-to-date as it is in the Western world!

For example, I rang Directory Enquiries to get the telephone number for the Adidas Outlet Store in the centre of Al Ain so I could find out their opening hours. The person I spoke with said the only Adidas they could find was in Dubai!

Yet there are 3 Adidas Outlet Stores in Al Ain: one in the centre, a second in Al Ain Mall and a third in Bawadi Mall.

I mentioned this to the manager of the first store when we later visited them, so he might have fixed this by now.

You also may need to ring a couple of times to get the exact number you want: when I rang one time to get the number for the Jashanmal Store in Al Ain, I was given the head office number in Abu Dhabi.

What this means for you: don’t rely on Directory Enquiries here as much as you would back home: think ahead and get telephone numbers in advance wherever possible: from a store when you visit, or from friends/colleagues.

Accessing the internet in Al Ain

Accessing the Internet here in Al Ain is more expensive than in the UK or US. We are paying in the region of £25 a month for a one meg line. We managed quite fine with a 512k line for a few months, but accessing YouTube was a little too frustrating at times at this speed so we upgraded. One of the Abu Dhabi guidebooks says that you can only get an Internet connection if you also pay for a landline. This may have been the case a year or 2 ago, but it is no longer true now.

One downside of living in Al Ain is that you can only have an Internet connection once you get your residence visa, so until then you will need to access the Internet in an office, at an Internet cafe, or at a local coffee shop where you will get free Internet access when you buy a drink or snack.

The first thing that we did when we got our residence visas was to sign up for an Internet account at the impressive Etisalat building in Sanaiya, a district in the south part of Al Ain.

Here is a shot of the building taken from the west…

Etisalat building

Notice the canopy for the Al Ain Club’s football stadium to the right of it.

Here’s the building from the north…

Etisalat building 2

Notice the cranes towering over the new mall called The Mall! This will open in the summer of 2012 and will house a Carrefour supermarket. Next door (south of it) is a Lulu hypermarket which has been there for a few years.

As the building we live in has no name or number, and the road we live on has no name, I was fascinated to see how the staff at Etisalat would find out where we lived. We were asked to describe where we lived and from a brief description we were shown a computer monitor screen with an overhead map of the town and then we drilled down to identify our building which had its own unique number. The very next day the engineers from Etisalat came round and within 30 minutes we were online – which was a tremendous relief.

Mobile phones

When we arrived in Al Ain we decided to buy two mobile phones for my wife and I from a local Carrefour supermarket. This was only slightly dearer than buying two Sim cards there and inserting them in our British phones. We spent about £10 a month in total on our combined phone bills. (We’re not big gassers on the phone!)

If you choose to ring the UK using your mobile phone you can expect to pay about 50 pence per minute. There are two networks in Al Ain: Etisalat and Du. The first is the most popular and has the strongest signal, but Du is cheaper and I hear that coverage can be a bit spotty at times. But this may have changed significantly in the last year since we decided to go with Etisalat.

In October 2010 I bought an iPhone 4 on the Etisalat network, paying about £20 a month for 120 minutes of calls, 120 text messages and 1gig of data. If you can stretch to an iPhone (or at least an Android phone), go for it.

Benefits…

  • built-in camera so you always have one at hand to take photos of signs you don’t understand (to get them translated later by an Arabic speaking friend) – or photograph a building you’re next to if you’re lost which you can send via a text message to help someone guide you home or wherever
  • select the Maps application to see where you are, and get it to give you directions to where you want to go
  • can’t make yourself understood? Type your question/statement in English and see it translated into Arabic as text
  • click on an English phrase from a categorised list of hundreds of phrases – and have the iPhone speak that phrase in Arabic
  • access the Al Ain Enthusiast ebook wherever you are (sign up opposite to get this)
  • use the FourSquare or Gowalla apps – both free – if you’re looking for, say, a local restaurant, to see comments of others who have been there
  • use the Compass app so you know if you’re heading in the right direction

…and much more.