How To Use Cell Phone In Saudi Arabia 2024: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected

If you’re an international traveler planning to use cell phone in Saudi Arabia, check this out! Getting cell service can get tricky with different networks and rules compared to other places.

This article aims to help you figure out how to stay connected in Saudi Arabia by looking into phone compatibility, setup steps, and eSIM options. By following these tips, you’ll be all set to use cell phones in Saudi Arabia in 2024 without any communication hiccups on your trip.

how to use cell phone in saudi arabia

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies, and Networks in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, known for its tech advancements, fully embraces mobile communication. Smooth connectivity is vital as the country progresses. Learn about phone compatibility, frequencies, and networks in Saudi Arabia:

Phone Compatibility

  • Saudi Arabia uses GSM technology for mobile networks.
  • Devices supporting GSM networks (2G, 3G, 4G LTE) are widely accepted.
  • Unlocked/multi-band phones are recommended for compatibility & roaming.

Frequencies

  • Saudi Arabia uses 900 MHz and 1800 MHz for 2G.
  • 3G operates on the 2100 MHz band.
  • 4G LTE runs on 1800 MHz (Band 3) and 2600 MHz (Band 7).

Networks

  • Saudi Arabia has 3 major mobile network operators: Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily, and Zain.
  • STC provides extensive 4G LTE coverage nationwide.
  • Mobily and Zain offer reliable network coverage and competitive data plans.
  • Virtual network operators like Virgin Mobile and Lebara leverage major carriers’ infrastructure, providing more choices for consumers.
  • International roaming agreements with global operators ensure connectivity for visitors in Saudi Arabia.

Tips:

II. Will My Cell Phone Work In Saudi Arabia?

will my phone work in saudi arabia

Yes, for your phone to work in Saudi Arabia, it needs to meet 2 main requirements:

  1. Network Compatibility: Your phone must be GSM network compatible. Most modern phones will be fine.
  2. Unlocked Phone: Your phone needs to be unlocked, so it can accept SIM cards from Saudi carriers.

Mobile Network Bands in Saudi Arabia:

CarrierTechnologyBands (Frequency)
STC5G, 4G LTE, 3G3G (900 MHz), 4G LTE (1800 MHz, 2100 MHz), 5G (3500 MHz)
Mobily5G, 4G LTE, 3G3G (900 MHz), 4G LTE (1800 MHz, 2100 MHz), 5G (3500 MHz)
Zain5G, 4G LTE, 3G3G (900 MHz), 4G LTE (1800 MHz, 2100 MHz), 5G (3500 MHz)

Note: Refer to this table for common carrier bands. Check your phone's technical specs against these bands for compatibility. Find details on the manufacturer's website or through a phone lookup service.

III. Do I Need An International Plan In Saudi Arabia?

Yeah, you’ll want an international plan when heading to Saudi Arabia. Just depending on free WiFi can be a hassle. Although you can find free WiFi in some public spots, there are a few drawbacks:

  • Limited coverage, particularly in remote areas
  • Security risks on unsecured public networks
  • Need for extra apps or services for voice calls and texts
  • Constant reliance on finding WiFi networks

An international plan from your home carrier offers several advantages:

  • Make international calls and texts at great rates
  • Use mobile data abroad at better rates than regular roaming charges
  • Keep your home phone number active and reachable
  • Choose package options that suit your needs and travel time
  • Stay connected without constantly searching for WiFi spots

So, an international plan is one of the best solutions to keep yourself connected while traveling to Saudi Arabia.

IV. What are Options to use Cellphones in Saudi Arabia for Tourists?

Staying connected while traveling is key, and in Saudi Arabia, you have options for using your cellphone: eSIM, international SIM card, and pocket wifi.

1. eSIM

esim for tourists in saudi arabia

eSIM is a digital SIM card programmed directly into your phone.

  • For: Phones that can use eSIMs (check your phone’s manual). Perfect for travelers who want a hassle-free, quick data plan.
  • Where to get it: Buy online from specific mobile providers in Saudi Arabia or from international travel eSIM sellers before your trip.
  • Pros: Easy to set up, can switch providers easily, great for short trips.
  • Cons: Not all phones support eSIMs, fewer provider choices than regular SIM cards.

2. International SIM Card

internation saudi arabia sim card

A physical SIM card from a Saudi Arabian mobile operator.

  • For: Most unlocked phones & travelers needing a local number.
  • Where: Buy SIM cards at airports, stores, or authorized retailers in Saudi Arabia.
  • Pros: Widely available, enables local calls, texts, & data packages.
  • Cons: Requires unlocking, activation may be time-consuming, not always the most cost-effective choice based on usage.

3. Pocket WiFi

pocket wifi in saudi arabia

A portable device that provides Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity for your phone and other devices.

  • For: Travelers with multiple devices needing internet access, groups sharing data.
  • Where to buy: Pocket WiFis can be rented online in advance or at the airport in Saudi Arabia.
  • Pros: Connects multiple devices, easy data sharing, good for areas with spotty cellular reception.
  • Cons: Limited battery life, extra rental cost, may need a deposit.

V. Will My Local Network Work In Saudi Arabia?

The answer is possible. However, note that while your local network should work in Saudi Arabia, roaming charges can be very high.

If you don’t control your usage habits while roaming, you might end up paying a lot at the end of your trip. Roaming charges can add up fast, particularly with data-heavy apps or frequent calls.

Notes:

  1. Get a local Saudi Arabian SIM card upon arrival for cheaper communication during longer stays or heavy phone use.
  2. Opt for Wi-Fi to cut data usage and sidestep high roaming fees; many places in Saudi Arabia offer free or paid Wi-Fi.
  3. Use data roaming only when needed, and monitor usage to avoid surprise charges.
  4. Turn off auto app updates and data-heavy features when not on Wi-Fi to save data.

VI. Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet In Saudi Arabia With Your Cell Phone

gigago esim saudi arabia

Traveling to Saudi Arabia and want to stay connected? Forget expensive data roaming charges! Your best option is an eSIM.

Why eSIM?

  • Easy setup: Get eSIM data plans online before or during your trip. No need to deal with local carrier stores or physical SIM changes.
  • Customizable plans: Pick data packages that suit your needs and budget.
  • No extra charges: Save money by avoiding international carrier fees.

Which Saudi Arabia eSIM plan should you choose for your trip?

That is eSIM plans from Gigago – the most reliable eSIM provider in this market. 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. FAQs about Use Cell Phone in Saudi Arabia

Do I need to register my cell phone before using it in Saudi Arabia?

Foreign visitors usually don’t need to register their cell phones in Saudi Arabia. But if you intend to stay long-term or get a local SIM card, you might have to register your device with telecom providers there.

Is it safe to use public Wi-Fi networks in Saudi Arabia for my cell phone?

Public Wi-Fi networks in Saudi Arabia are widespread, but be cautious when connecting. They may not be secure, risking your data. Use a VPN or secure hotspot for safety.

Can I use my cell phone’s GPS and navigation apps in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, you can use your cell phone’s GPS and navigation apps in Saudi Arabia. Note that some areas may have restricted access or limited satellite coverage, affecting navigation accuracy.

Any popular apps or services widely used for cell phones in Saudi Arabia?

Popular apps in Saudi Arabia include WhatsApp for messaging, Uber and Careem for ride-sharing, and food delivery apps like Hunger Station and Jahez. Residents and citizens often use mobile banking apps and e-government services as well.

VIII. Conclusion

In a nutshell, knowing how to use cell phone in Saudi Arabia in 2024 is super important for travelers who want to stay connected hassle-free. Pick the best service provider, keep up with local rules, and use tech smartly for a smooth trip. Stay informed and ready to make the most of your travels in the Kingdom!