If you plan on visiting Saudi Arabia, having a sim card is essential for seamless connectivity. Access to the internet while traveling can greatly assist in navigating unfamiliar cities. With internet access, you can easily locate top-notch restaurants, find directions to your accommodation, book a taxi, and even share photos with your family in real-time.
Although international roaming is an option, the charges can quickly accumulate, making it more cost-effective to opt for either an eSIM or a local sim card with local phone rates. Fortunately, obtaining an eSIM or local sim card in Saudi Arabia is a hassle-free process.
To help you make an informed decision, this comprehensive guide provides up-to-date pricing information and helps determine the best sim card option for your specific needs.
All of the main mobile network operators offer fairly competitive tourist sim cards in Egypt, however, I recommend purchasing a local sim card from either Virgin Mobile or STC.
Virgin Mobile offers the most data at the lowest prices and uses the STC network, which is the most comprehensive and reliable network in Saudi Arabia. For just 55 SAR you can get access to 13GB data which is an amazing deal!
If you prefer the convenience of an eSim (you should, they’re much better), then Airalo’s Egypt eSim is a pretty good deal that allows you to purchase just the amount of data you require. It operates on Zain’s network which is almost as extensive as STCs. For around 50 SAR (similar price to the Virgin Mobile sim above) you get 5GB of data which is plenty for most travellers.
A Tourist Sim Card in Saudi Arabia costs 55 SAR in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in Saudi Arabia will cost between $5 USD and $26 USD. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.
I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting Saudi Arabia which includes 5GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $15.50 USD.
In Saudi Arabia, the main SIM card providers offering reliable services to millions of users are STC, Virgin Mobile, and Zain. Saudi Telecom Company (STC), being the largest provider, offers comprehensive mobile network coverage across the kingdom with a wide range of prepaid and postpaid plans tailored to suit individual requirements. With its strong brand presence, Virgin Mobile, in partnership with STC, offers innovative packages and digital services, focusing on a seamless customer experience. Zain, another significant player, delivers competitive plans and high-speed internet connectivity, appealing to a large customer base. With fierce competition between these providers, customers in Saudi Arabia can enjoy a diverse range of services and packages to cater to their connectivity needs.
STC, the leading telecommunication company in Saudi Arabia, provides exceptional tourist sim cards to enhance travelers’ experiences. With affordable data plans and reliable coverage across the country, tourists can stay connected with family and friends while exploring Saudi Arabia’s cultural treasures. STC’s sim cards offer fast internet speeds, nationwide calling and texting options, as well as exclusive discounts on various attractions and services. Stay connected and make the most of your visit to Saudi Arabia with STC’s tourist sim cards.
The price of a STC tourist sim card in Saudi Arabia is 115 SAR.
The plan offered by STC stores includes 10GB data + 20GB social data + 300 minutes calls valid for 30 days.
Virgin Mobile offers tourist sim cards in Saudi Arabia with several benefits. With coverage across major cities, tourists can enjoy reliable and uninterrupted connectivity. The sim cards come with generous data allowances, allowing visitors to stay connected, browse the internet, and share their experiences with friends and family. The packages also include local minutes and international calling options, making it convenient for tourists to stay in touch throughout their trip.
The price of a Virgin Mobile tourist sim card in Saudi Arabia is 55 SAR.
The plan offered by Virgin Mobile stores offers 13GB 4G data valid for 30 days.
Zain is a leading telecommunication company in Saudi Arabia, offering convenient tourist sim cards. With their reliable coverage across the country, travelers can enjoy uninterrupted communication and internet access during their stay. Zain’s tourist sim cards provide extensive data plans, allowing tourists to easily navigate, search for local attractions, and stay connected with locals. Additionally, Zain’s customer service ensures a hassle-free experience, making them a preferred choice for tourists visiting Saudi Arabia.
The price of a Zain tourist sim card in Saudi Arabia is 80.5 SAR.
The plan offered by Zain stores includes 10GB data + 5GB social media data + 150 minutes valid for 4 weeks.
Identify mobile providers: STC, Virgin Mobile and Zain are your best options in Saudi Arabia.
Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.
Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.
Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.
Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.
Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.
Buying a prepaid sim card for Saudi Arabia at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.
However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.
In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.
If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in Saudi Arabia then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Saudi Arabia have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.
If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.
I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as STC, Virgin Mobile and Zain. Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in Saudi Arabia are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.
Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.
If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in Saudi Arabia with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.
The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.
The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!
An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.
We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to Saudi Arabia. The Airalo Saudi Arabia eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.
In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $15.50 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in Saudi Arabia without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in Saudi Arabia is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Saudi Arabia and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.
Airalo’s Saudi Arabia eSim uses the Zain network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Zain networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Saudi Arabia.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Saudi Arabia eSim:
1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $5 USD
2GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $8 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $11 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $15.50 USD
10GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $26 USD
For most travellers we recommend the 5GB data plan for $15.50 USD which is valid for 30 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.
An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.
Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s Saudi Arabia eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s Saudi Arabia eSim uses the Saudi Telecom Companynetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Saudi Arabia
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Saudi Arabia eSim:
3GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $34 USD
6GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $49 USD
The eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that comes already installed in a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Unlike the traditional physical SIM cards, the eSIM does not require any physical insertion or removal process.
Instead, the eSIM is built right into the device’s hardware and can be activated and programmed remotely by a mobile network operator. This allows users to easily switch between different mobile networks or plans without the hassle of physically swapping out SIM cards.
The eSIM technology brings numerous benefits, including convenience, flexibility, and user-friendliness, particularly for frequent travelers or those who frequently switch between different mobile networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the need to buy and insert physical SIM cards, making it much more convenient to manage multiple mobile connections on one device.
To activate an eSIM, users can either scan a provided QR code or manually input the activation details given by their mobile network operator. After activation, the device can connect to the chosen mobile network and access voice calls, data services, and messaging features, just like with a traditional SIM card.
There are several benefits to using an eSIM:
– Convenience: No need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans, which is especially helpful for frequent travelers.
– Dual SIM functionality: Allows for two active mobile numbers on the same device, useful for separating personal and work numbers or managing multiple phone lines.
– Space-saving: Eliminates the need for a physical SIM card slot, freeing up space within the device for other components or making devices smaller.
– Remote provisioning: Activation and management of mobile plans can be done remotely, without needing a physical SIM card or store visit.
– Future-proofing: As more networks support eSIMs, using an eSIM-compatible device ensures access to new services and offerings.
Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity.
eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:
Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.
Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.
Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.
OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.
Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.
These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.
Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!
Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:
Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.
Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.
Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.
Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.
Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.
Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is.