Zain SIM Cards & eSIM for Tourists: How to Get and Activate 2024

Zain SIM cards are your go-to move for staying connected when you’re in Saudi Arabia as they got you covered with a wide reach and super-fast internet. 

Zain sim cards and eSIM for tourists in Saudi Arabia

This blog post will answer all your questions about Zain’s connectivity options for visitors.  We’ll explore the different Zain SIM cards packages available, the coverage and network speeds you can expect, and the process of acquiring and activating your SIM card or eSIM. Let’s delve into it now!

I. Quick Facts about Zain 

Zain, a major telecom provider in the Middle East and Africa, has a long history since 1983. Let’s take a brief look at the company:

  • Founded: 1983 (originally as Mobile Telecommunications Company)
  • Full Company Name: Zain Group
  • Service: Mobile and data services
  • Subscribers: Over 49M across 8 countries (as of 2022)
  • Coverage: Operations in 8 countries across the Middle East and Africa
  • Stores and Partners: Over 6,000 retail stores and numerous distribution partners
  • Customer Support: 24/7 call centers and digital support channels
  • Awards: Named “Best Brand” in Kuwait (2022), “Best Mobile Operator” in Iraq (2021), among others

II. Why Zain When Traveling Saudi Arabia – Coverage and Speed

Picking the right telecom provider is key to staying connected on your travels. Zain, with its wide coverage and awesome data speeds, is a top pick for visitors to Saudi Arabia. Let’s find it out now!

1. Zain Coverage in Saudi Arabia

zain coverage saudi arabia
Zain coverage map in saudi Arabia from Ookla & OpenSignal

Zain provides broad coverage in Saudi Arabia, offering mobile and data services to a large number of subscribers. As per reports and analyses:

  • Network Coverage: Zain’s 4G LTE network covers 95% of Saudi Arabia
  • Subscriber Base: Over 8M active subscribers in Saudi Arabia in Q4 2022
  • Network Quality: Zain’s network ranked fastest in Saudi Arabia in 2022 by Ookla & OpenSignal
  • Awards: Zain was named “Best Mobile Operator” in Saudi Arabia by ServiceHero in 2021 for network & service quality

As updated, Zain is boosting 5G in Saudi cities for faster connections, solidifying its top telecom status in Saudi Arabia.

2. Zain Speed

zain speed saudi arabia
Zain speed map from OpenSignal

Zain ended up at the bottom among the three main operators in Saudi Arabia for most key mobile experience metrics in Opensignal’s November 2023 report.

  • Overall Download Speed: 24.1 Mbps (slowest)
  • Overall Upload Speed: 6.8 Mbps (slowest)
  • Video Experience: 50.9 points (Fair rating)
  • Live Video Experience: 46.6 points (lowest)
  • Games Experience: 38.7 points (lowest)

Zain did not win any awards outright. Its 5G download speed of 198.2 Mbps and 5G upload speed of 17.6 Mbps also lagged behind its competitors Mobily and STC.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of Zain for Travelers to Saudi Arabia?

Travelers heading to Saudi Arabia can choose from different ways to stay connected: getting a local SIM card, renting a mobile Wi-Fi device, or using their phone’s roaming service. Let’s see its pros and cons.

Connectivity OptionProsCons
Local SIM CardAffordable data plansRequires passport for purchase
Pocket Wi-FiShares data with multiple devicesRental fees can add up
RoamingConvenient, no need for additional purchasesPotentially expensive data charges

Our recommendation: For many travelers, a local SIM card in Saudi Arabia is the best for cheap data. You need a passport to get it, but it gives you budget-friendly data plans to stay connected without high roaming fees.

IV. Best Zain SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Please note: Prices may vary slightly depending on the retailer and exchange rates.

PlanValidityPrice (SAR)Price (USD)
30 GB Internet + 30 GB Social Media3 Months201.25 53.63 
75 GB Internet + 75 GB Social Media2 Months228.85 61.00 
125 GB Internet + 100 GB Social Media3 Months343.85 91.57 
150 GB Internet + 150 GB Social Media3 Months458.85 122.23 

Our recommendation: It’s up to you but we recommend that the 30GB data plan with social media for 3 months at $53.63 is a fit choice, offering great value and coverage for most tourists on their travels.

V. Does Zain Support eSIM in Saudi Arabia?

Zain does support eSIM in Saudi Arabia. You can get an eSIM from Zain either directly or through resellers. Buying from resellers is quicker and easier, usually without needing any ID documents.

For this purchase method, consider Gigago – a top eSIM provider in this sector. Unfortunately, Gigago currently only offers Mobily eSIM, not Zain, due to Zain’s narrower coverage and faster speeds.

Gigago esim saudi arabia

For 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.

Tourists can check some eSIM plans in Saudi Arabia through Gigago.

VI. Where to Buy a Zain SIM card and eSIM?

In a very developing country like Saudi Arabia, it’s not too hard to find a place selling Zain SIM cards or eSIM. Let’s check it out in this section!

1. Where to buy Zain SIM for Saudi Arabia?

where to buy zain sim cards for saudi arabia
  • Zain stores: Located in major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam
  • Mobile phone shops: Found in popular shopping malls like Kingdom Centre in Riyadh and Red Sea Mall in Jeddah
  • Hypermarkets: Carrefour and Panda offer SIM cards alongside groceries
  • Airport kiosks: Available at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah

2. Where to buy Zain eSIM for Saudi Arabia?

where to buy zain esim for saudi arabia
  • Zain website: Purchase and activate eSIM online
  • Zain stores: Visit physical stores for assistance with eSIM activation
  • Mobile phone retailers: Authorized dealers like Gigago offer eSIM services
  • Zain app: Download the Zain app to buy and activate eSIM on your device

VII. How to Activate Zain SIM cards/eSIMs in Saudi Arabia?

Using a Zain SIM card or eSIM in Saudi Arabia is easy. If you are new to it, just follow the instructions given.

1. How to Use Zain SIM Cards in Saudi Arabia?

  • Put the SIM card in the SIM slot of your phone
  • Turn your phone off and then on again
  • Your phone will find the Zain network by itself
  • You can now make calls, send messages, and use internet like in your plan

2. How to Activate Zain eSIM?

  • Get the Zain KSA app if you don’t have it already. Login
  • Tap on “eSIM
  • Choose “Activate eSIM” and follow the instructions on your screen
  • Scan the QR code Zain will give you
  • After scanning, your eSIM will be ready to use

VIII. FAQs about Zain SIM Card for Saudi Arabia

What payment methods can I use to top up my Zain SIM cards?

You can top up online via credit card or at retailers using cash. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay also work.

Can I switch between physical and eSIM on the same device and number?

Yes, you can easily switch your Zain number between physical and eSIM on supported devices.

How do I check my Zain SIM card balance?

Check your balance in the My Zain app or by dialing *142#.

What should I do if I lose my Zain SIM cards?

Report it lost at a Zain center immediately to suspend service on that SIM.

IX. Conclusion

To sum up, getting and setting up Zain SIM cards and eSIMs is super user-friendly. Whether you like the physical SIM card or the cool eSIM tech, Zain makes it easy to fit into your mobile life. 

Just follow the activation steps, and you’ll be quickly connected to Zain’s services and connectivity options, keeping you linked up locally and globally.

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