Best Saudi Arabia SIM Cards for Tourists: Updated Prices & Where to Buy 2024

Saudi Arabia SIM cards are essential for tourists visiting the Kingdom, as they provide access to local cellular networks and data connectivity.

sim cards in saudi arabia

This article is written for tourists planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, aiming to help them choose the best Saudi Arabia SIM cards for their needs. It will cover the different types of SIM cards available, the top packages and prices, and where to purchase them, as well as alternatives like eSIM and recommendations on the best mobile networks for visitors.

I. Should You Get a SIM card in Saudi Arabia?

should i get a saudi arabia sim card

YES, getting a SIM card in Saudi Arabia is highly recommended for travelers visiting the country.

Some advantages of getting a SIM card in Saudi Arabia can be named  like:

  • Local SIM = stable, high-speed internet for navigation and staying connected.
  • Saudi SIM = competitive rates for calls, SMS, and data, more affordable than roaming.
  • Manage usage easily and make calls without public Wi-Fi or limited roaming.
  • Saudi SIM = stay productive for work or personal needs with reliable online access.

When compared to other connectivity options:

  • Public Wi-Fi: Unreliable & insecure; SIM card offers stability & privacy.
  • International Roaming: High charges; local SIM card is cost-effective.
  • Portable Hotspots: Need extra device, may have data limits; SIM card integrated into a smartphone.

► Our Recommendations:

  • If you don’t need a SIM card for calls/texts in Saudi Arabia or want to save money, opt for a data-only SIM card instead.
  • Ensure your phone is unlocked to use a SIM card.

II. Types of Saudi Arabia SIM Cards for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

There are two types of Saudi Arabia SIM Cards for tourists: prepaid physical SIM cards and prepaid tourist Saudi Arabia eSIM.

To help you understand about each type and make an informed decision on which to choose, we make a table comparing the pros and cons of each type for tourists in Saudi Arabia:

CriteriaPrepaid Physical SIM CardPrepaid Tourist Saudi Arabia eSIM
ConvenienceRequires visiting a physical store to purchase and activateEntirely digital process, can be purchased and activated online before your trip
Setup TimeImmediate activation upon purchaseCan be set up in advance, ready to use upon arrival
Device CompatibilityWorks with any unlocked, compatible deviceRequires an eSIM-enabled device, often with the latest phones
Plan FlexibilityA wider range of plan options and customizationLimited to pre-defined data-only or bundled plans
CostMay be slightly more affordable for longer staysCan be more cost-effective for shorter trips
Physical PresenceNecessary to visit a store to acquire the SIM cardNo need to visit a physical location

► Our Recommendation:

  • If your device works with eSIM and you just need basic internet and calls through apps, go for a Prepaid Tourist Saudi Arabia eSIM. It’s easier for short trips.
  • But if you want more options or flexibility, stick with a regular prepaid SIM card.

III. Best Saudi Arabia SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Prices

best saudi arabia sim card plans

Good to know: 1 USD = 3.75 SAR (Mar 2024)

Best Saudi Arabia SIM card plans for tourists are provided by major cellular network operators in this country, which are STC, Mobily, and Zain.

1. Best Saudi Arabia STC SIM Card Plans and Price

PlanDataMinutesPrice
Sawa Captain15GBUnlimited WhatsApp/Google Maps, 500 to all local97.75 SAR (~$26)
Sawa HeroUnlimitedUnlimited local calls/SMS414 SAR (~$110)
Sawa Star Plus100GBUnlimited local calls276 SAR (~$73)
Sawa Post Plus75GBUnlimited within STC + 500 to other local195.5 SAR (~$52)
Sawa Share Plus30GBUnlimited within STC + 500 to other local132.25 SAR (~$35)
Sawa Like Plus10GB500 to all local86.25 SAR (~$23)
Sawa Basic1GB100 to all local34.5 SAR (~$9)

Insight: STC’s prepaid plans are a good choice for both short-term visitors and longer-term residents in Saudi Arabia. 

2. Best Saudi Arabia Mobily SIM Card Plans and Price

PlanDataMinutesSocial MediaPrice
Prepaid 301GB1001GB30 SAR (~$8)
Prepaid 75 (Special Offer)5GB + 3GB bonus5005+3GB75 SAR (~$20)
Prepaid 110 (Special Offer)10GB + 15GB bonus150015+15GB110 SAR (~$29)
Prepaid 150 (Special Offer)20GB + 35GB bonus3000Unlimited150 SAR (~$40)
Prepaid 180 (Special Offer)50GB + 30GB bonusUnlimitedUnlimited180 SAR (~$48)
Prepaid 220100GBUnlimitedUnlimited220 SAR (~$59)
Prepaid 360UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited360 SAR (~$96)
Prepaid Weekly2GB1002GB25 SAR (~$7) per week
Prepaid DailyUnlimited50Unlimited20 SAR (~$5.33) per day

Insight: Ideal for short-term tourists or visitors to Saudi Arabia. Offers diverse data, minute, and social media allowances to suit various needs. Special plans offer great value.

3. Best Saudi Arabia Zain SIM Card Plans and Price

PlanDataMinutesSocial MediaPrice
Shabab Prepaid2GB1002GB20 SAR (~$5.33)
5GB5005GB50 SAR (~$13.33)
10GB100010GB100 SAR (~$26.67)
20GB2000Unlimited150 SAR (~$40)
50GBUnlimitedUnlimited250 SAR (~$66.67)
Zain Flex Prepaid3GB10030 SAR (~$8)
10GB50075 SAR (~$20)
20GB1000150 SAR (~$40)
50GBUnlimited250 SAR (~$66.67)
UnlimitedUnlimited350 SAR (~$93.33)

Insight: Zain’s Shabab and Zain Flex prepaid plans offer a nice balance of data, minutes, and affordability, making them a solid option for most tourists and short-term visitors to Saudi Arabia.

► Our Recommendation: Mobily seems to offer top SIM card plans for tourists in Saudi Arabia. Their prepaid packages provide great value with ample data, minutes, and social media allowances at competitive prices.

The Daily and Weekly options are convenient for short-term travelers. Moreover, Mobily’s eSIM service is ideal for setting up connectivity before arrival.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Saudi Arabia?

Tourists visiting Saudi Arabia have several places to buy a local SIM card to stay connected during their trip. The choice often depends on individual preferences and the timing of the purchase. Below are four ways for guys.

1. Buying Online Before Departure

  • How: Purchase a Saudi Arabia SIM card online from authorized retailers or the operator’s website.
  • Where to buy: Mobily, STC, or Zain’s official online stores.
  • Pros:
    • The convenience of having a SIM card before arrival.
    • Can be delivered to your home address.
    • Ensures connectivity from the moment you land.
  • Cons:
    • May need to wait for delivery.
    • Limited options compared to buying in-country.

2. Buy Physical SIM at Saudi Arabia Airports

  • How: Visit the operator’s kiosks or stores at major airports like Riyadh, Jeddah, or Dammam.
  • Where to buy: Operator retail outlets at Saudi Arabian airports.
  • Arabian:
    • Readily available upon arrival.
    • Can get assistance with activation and setup.
    • Wider selection of plans to choose from.
  • Cons:
    • May face long queues at peak travel times.
    • Limited inventory at airport locations.

3. Buy Physical Saudi Arabia SIM in the Cities

  • How: Visit the operator’s retail stores or authorized dealers in major cities.
  • Where to Buy: Mobily, STC, or Zain stores/dealers in cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.
  • Pros:
    • Larger selection of plans and devices.
    • More personalized assistance from staff.
    • Potentially better prices compared to airport locations.
  • Cons:
    • Need to travel to the city to purchase.
    • May be unfamiliar with the area.

4. Buying an eSIM

  • How: Download the operator’s eSIM app and activate the plan before arrival.
  • Where to buy: Mobily, STC, or Zain’s official eSIM services.
  • Pros:
    • No need to acquire a physical SIM card.
    • Instant activation upon arrival.
    • Convenient for multiple devices.
  • Cons:
    • Requires an eSIM-enabled device.
    • May have limited plan options compared to physical SIMs.

Recommendation: For tourists in Saudi Arabia, it’s best to get an eSIM before your trip. You can start using the eSIM right away, avoiding the hassle of finding a physical SIM, which can take time, especially at airports. eSIM is the top choice for tourists in Saudi Arabia – convenient, affordable, and ready for immediate use.

V. How Much Data Is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Saudi Arabia?

Now, we will share some insights on choosing the right data volume for a prepaid tourist SIM card in Saudi Arabia. First, let’s talk about how much you can do with 1GB of data:

  • Browsing the web, checking emails, and using social media for around 10-15 hours
  • Streaming about 3-4 hours of standard-definition video
  • Downloading around 500-600 high-resolution photos
  • Using GPS navigation and maps for 4-5 hours

Now, let’s look at the different types of users and the data volumes they may need:

  • Heavy Users: 50GB+. Ideal for extensive video streaming, online gaming, or large file transfers.
  • Medium Users: 20-50GB. Ideal for frequent internet browsing, social media, and light video streaming.
  • Light Users: 10-20GB. For those who use the internet for email, basic web browsing, and minimal social media.
  • Average Tourists: 20-30GB. Good for browsing, maps, social media, and some streaming on the trip
  • Businessmen: 30-50GB. Require more data for emails, video calls, file sharing, and work tasks
  • Sharing Devices: 30GB+. If sharing your SIM’s data with others, opt for a higher data plan

Tips:

  • Balance expected data usage with available package options
  • Avoid choosing a plan that is too small
  • Don't get a package significantly larger than your needs

VI. Saudi Arabia eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Saudi Arabia

gigago esim saudi arabia

Traveling to Saudi Arabia, get rid of the hassle of physical SIM cards and go for a convenient prepaid eSIM instead. Gigago’s eSIM for Saudi Arabia offers an easy way to stay connected during your trip.

Compared to other options like roaming, pocket WiFi, or free public WiFi, a Gigago eSIM has some cool benefits:

  • Get instant connectivity upon arrival – just scan the QR code and you’re good to go
  • No need to search for a physical SIM card store
  • Enjoy competitive data prices without hidden roaming fees

For Saudi Arabia, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1GB/day for 5 days with $13.50 . What is great about Gigago’s Saudi Arabia eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $13.50$127.50 .

Thus, it does not matter how many Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Saudi Arabia, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

VII. Which Saudi Arabia Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?

Choosing the right mobile network is crucial for tourists visiting Saudi Arabia. To help you make an informed decision, let’s explore the top Saudi Arabian mobile operators and their offerings.

1. STC (Saudi Telecom Company)

stc coverage saudi arabia
  • Rank: #1 mobile operator in Saudi Arabia
  • Coverage: Nationwide coverage, including remote areas
  • Network: 5G, 4G LTE
  • Average Speed: Up to 300 Mbps download, 100 Mbps upload
  • Awards: Awarded “Fastest Mobile Network” in Saudi Arabia by Ookla Speedtest in 2022

2. Mobily

mobily coverage saudi arabia
  • Rank: #2 mobile operator in Saudi Arabia
  • Coverage: Extensive coverage across the country
  • Network: 5G, 4G LTE
  • Average Speed: Up to 200 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload
  • Awards: Recognized as the “Best Mobile Operator” in Saudi Arabia by the GSMA in 2021

3. Zain

zain coverage saudi arabia
  • Rank: #3 mobile operator in Saudi Arabia
  • Coverage: Wide coverage, with a focus on major cities and tourist destinations
  • Network: 5G, 4G LTE
  • Average Speed: Up to 150 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload
  • Awards: Awarded “Best 5G Experience” in Saudi Arabia by Opensignal in 2022

Recommendation: While Mobily and Zain are good choices with their strengths, STC stands out as the top pick for tourists in Saudi Arabia. Its network coverage, speeds, and industry reputation make it the go-to option. So, we’d say go with STC for your mobile service during your trip to Saudi Arabia – you’ll get reliable, high-performance service that’s well-known.

VIII. How to Use Saudi Arabia Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM?

Let’s check out how to use prepaid SIM cards and eSIM for easy mobile connection in the Kingdom.

1. Using prepaid Saudi Arabia tourist SIM Cards

Getting a prepaid SIM card is a popular choice for travelers to Saudi Arabia. Here’s how to use one:

  • Buy a card from telecom providers like STC, Mobily, or Zain before or upon arrival.
  • Ensure your phone is unlocked and compatible with local networks.
  • Insert the SIM and follow the on-screen instructions to activate it.
  • Top up with credit using vouchers or online.
  • Set up your phone for calls, SMS, and data.
  • Stay connected throughout your Saudi Arabia trip.

2. Setting up and activating Saudi Arabia eSIM 

For a hassle-free option, try a prepaid Saudi Arabia eSIM. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Buy a plan from a reputable provider.
  • Get the eSIM details, including a QR code, via email.
  • On your eSIM-compatible device, go to Settings and choose “Add eSIM” or “Cellular”.
  • Scan the QR code or enter the activation details.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the activation.
  • Once activated, your eSIM will connect to the local network in Saudi Arabia.

IX. FAQs about Saudi Arabia SIM cards

Do I need a passport to buy Saudi Arabia SIM cards?

Most Saudi Arabia SIM card providers do not require a passport to purchase a prepaid SIM card. However, some may ask for identification, so it’s best to check with the specific retailer.

How do I top up Saudi Arabia SIM cards?

You can top up your Saudi Arabia SIM cards by purchasing physical top-up vouchers from authorized retailers or by using an online recharge service provided by the telecom operator.

Do Saudi Arabia SIM cards have an expiry date?

Yes, most Saudi Arabia SIM cards have an expiry date, usually ranging from 30 to 90 days. It’s important to check the expiry date and top up your SIM card before it expires to maintain active service.

Can I use Saudi Arabia SIM cards for mobile hotspots?

Yes, you can use Saudi Arabia SIM cards for mobile hotspots or tethering, but the availability and data allowance may vary depending on your plan and network provider.

X. Conclusion

To sum up, Saudi Arabia SIM cards are a handy and budget-friendly way for travelers to stay in touch while visiting the Kingdom. Whether you go for a prepaid SIM card or an eSIM option, you’ll get reliable mobile connectivity, good data plans, and the freedom to use your phone without worrying about crazy roaming fees.