STC SIM Cards and eSIM for Tourists 2024

Traveling to Saudi Arabia and wondering about staying connected?  Struggling to decide between STC SIM cards & eSIM? This guide will simplify your options! We’ll break down the process of obtaining and activating both, ensuring a smooth and connected experience throughout your trip to Saudi Arabia.

guide to buy stc sim cards and esim saudi arabia

I. Quick facts about STC

STC is a top ICT provider in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and Europe. Here’s a quick overview of it:

Founded: 1998

Full Company Name: Saudi Telecommunication Company (Group)


  • Fixed-line and mobile telephony
  • Internet services
  • IPTV
  • Digital payments/fintech (STC bank)
  • IoT, cloud computing, cybersecurity
  • Gaming, esports, digital entertainment platforms


  • Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain (STC Bahrain)
  • Kuwait (STC Kuwait)
  • Pakistan (through subsidiary TAWAL Pakistan)
  • Europe (began operations in 2023)


  • Retail stores across Saudi Arabia
  • Partnerships with Western Union, Microsoft, and Alibaba Cloud among others


  • First fintech unicorn in the Middle East (STC bank)
  • Launched 5G network replacing all 3G in 2021
  • A major investor in Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives

II. Saudi Arabia STC Coverage and Speed 

When it comes to one of the richest countries in the world like Saudi Arabia, let’s see its coverage and speed in this section. 

1. STC coverage in Saudi Arabia

stc coverage saudi arabia
STC coverage map Saudi Arabia from nPerf Speed

Here are some key points of STC coverage:

  • Extensive 4G Network: Covers 95% of the Saudi population in 600+ cities and towns.
  • Market Leader: 99.8% landline and 96.6% mobile coverage.
  • 5G Expansion: Aim for 80% coverage by 2023.
  • Award-Winning Network: Recognized for “Best Network Coverage” nationally and as MENA’s top telecom brand for infrastructure.

2. STC speed

stc speed saudi arabia
STC speed map in Saudi Arabia from Opensignal

Here are some notes on STC Speed in Saudi Arabia:

  • STC wins 8th consecutive Download Speed Experience award at 40.2 Mbps.
  • STC tops Upload Speed Experience with 11.1 Mbps.
  • STC leads 5G with 242.4 Mbps download speed.
  • STC excels with 25.1 Mbps 5G upload speed.
  • STC remains a Consistent Quality champion for reliable network performance.

In short, STC leads over other mobile operators in Saudi Arabia for key metrics like speeds, video experience, and consistency, as per OpenSignal’s November 2023 report, showcasing its dominance in mobile network performance.

III. STC connectivity options for travelers to Saudi Arabia

Connecting in Saudi Arabia is simple with STC’s range of options. Here’s a brief guide to pick the right one for your travel needs:

Connectivity OptionProsCons
STC SIM Card– Wide availability and affordability 
– Extensive network coverage (4G and 5G)
– Requires phone unlocking 
– Limited data options for tourists
Pocket Wi-Fi– Convenient for sharing data with multiple devices 
– Flexible data plans 
– Battery life limitations 
– Higher cost compared to a SIM card
International Roaming– No need to purchase a new SIM or pocket Wi-Fi 
– Familiar phone number
– Potentially expensive data charges 
– Limited network coverage based on provider’s agreement with STC

In summary, STC SIM cards are great for budget travelers with low prices for data, calls, and texts. Pocket Wifi is good for sharing the Internet with family or friends. Roaming is best for short trips if you want to keep your number.

IV. Best STC SIM cards for tourists & cost

Good to know: 1 USD = 3.75 SAR, 1 SAR = 0.27 USD (Mar 2024)

Visitors can refer to this table to know which STC package is fit for you.

PlanPrice (USD)DataIncluded MinutesIncluded SMS
Sawa Visitor Flex 359.384 GB6020
Sawa Visitor Flex 5514.7510 GB120 40
Sawa Visitor Flex 7018.7515 GBUnlimited calls within KSA60
Sawa Visitor Flex 100 (until Dec 5, 2024)26.7020 GB200 100
Sawa Visitor Flex 130 (until Dec 5, 2024)34.7530 GB300 150

From this table, here’s a quick recommendation breakdown:

  • Most Affordable: Sawa Visitor Flex 35
  • Balanced Option: Sawa Visitor Flex 55 or 70 (based on the need for unlimited local calls)
  • Most Data: Sawa Visitor Flex 100 or 130

V. Does STC Saudi Arabia support eSIM?

Yes, STC supports eSIM in Saudi Arabia. There are two main ways to get an eSIM from STC:

  1. From STC: Request an eSIM via the mystc app, generate a QR code, and complete the process at an STC store. Have your passport ready for documentation.
  2. Through eSIM Resellers: Buy and activate an eSIM online through resellers like Gigago, avoiding in-store visits or ID submissions.

It’s a pity that Gigago hasn’t cooperated with STC to offer eSIM plans because of its high prices. But visitors can give a try to Etihad Etisalat (Mobily network operator) – one of the best tops in Saudi Arabia. 

gigago esim saudi arabia
Gigago esim Saudi Arabia

Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1GB/day for 5 days with $5.00 . What is great about Gigago’s Saudi Arabia eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $5.00$54.50 . 

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.

VI. Where can you buy an STC Saudi Arabia SIM card and eSIM?

Finding a place to buy STC SIM cards/eSIM in Saudi Arabia is not hard. Follow this section below to know more.

1. Where to buy STC SIM cards for Saudi Arabia?

where to buy stc sim cards saudi arabia
where to buy STC sim cards Saudi Arabia

2. Where to buy Saudi Arabia STC eSIM?

where to buy saudi arabia stc esim
Where to buy Saudi Arabia STC eSIM
  • Through the STC Jawwalak app or online self-service portals
  • Online retailers like Gigago, and others that offer STC eSIM plans
  • Select STC stores and service centers that provide eSIM activation (e.g., Riyadh Gallery Mall, Jeddah Red Sea Mall)

VII. How to activate STC SIM Cards/eSIM in Saudi Arabia?

Using an STC SIM/eSIM for Saudi Arabia is simple. If it’s your first time, refer to the instructions below.

1. How to use an STC Saudi Arabia SIM card?

You only need to follow these simple steps and everything will be ready.

  • Purchase: Get your STC SIM card from a store or retailer. Consider a prepaid “sawa visitor” SIM for tourists.
  • Activation: Two options:
    • mystc app: Download, follow instructions to activate, and select a data plan.
    • Manual: Follow instructions on the SIM card packaging or scan the QR code for a video guide. Visit a store if needed.
  • Top Up: Once activated, add balance with vouchers, online, or via the app.
  • Enjoy: Make calls, send texts, and use data based on your plan choice.

2. How to activate an STC Saudi Arabia eSIM?

  • Request eSIM: Use mystc app to request an eSIM and generate a QR code.
  • Connect Online: Ensure device has Wi-Fi or internet.
  • Scan & Activate: Scan QR code with phone’s camera and follow on-screen steps.
  • Activation Pending: eSIM will activate on your device soon.

VIII. FAQs about STC SIM cards/eSIM in Saudi Arabia

What are some popular STC data plans for visitors?

STC offers a variety of prepaid plans with data allowances. Popular options include sawa packages with data starting from 1 GB and going up to 100 GB, often with unlimited social media usage.

Can I activate my STC SIM cards myself?

Absolutely! You can activate your STC SIM card using the mystc app. Simply scan the barcode on the SIM, choose a plan, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Can I use an STC eSIM with a physical SIM card?

Yes! If your phone supports dual SIM, you can use an STC eSIM and a physical SIM from another operator simultaneously. Keep your home number and access a local Saudi network.

IX. Conclusion

Whether you’re a short-term visitor or long-term resident in Saudi Arabia, staying connected is easy with STC. Get STC SIM cards at airports and retailers, or opt for the modern convenience of an eSIM activated through the mystc app. 

With various data plans and easy activation, STC guarantees a smooth mobile experience throughout your time in the Kingdom.