For tourists from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia attracts millions of tourists every year. Access to mobile data while traveling is essential for staying connected and getting around the country quickly. Many travelers choose to buy local SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports upon arrival, as it is a convenient option. This comprehensive guide will give you all the necessary information to get a SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports.
Table of Contents
I. Which airport in Saudi Arabia offers SIM card for tourists?
There are 27 airports in Saudi Arabia and over 20 regional and domestic airports across Saudi Arabia serving cities like Jazan, Hail, Abha, Qassim, Qurayyat, Jizan, Najran and others. The significant number of Saudi Arabia airports caters to the vast geography and growing demand for air travel within the kingdom.
The three main international Saudi Arabia airports that have SIM card services for arriving tourists are:
Jeddah Airport is one of the busiest major airports of Saudi Arabia located in Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. It serves both domestic and international flights. There are many SIM card vendors and kiosks in the airport arrivals area offering prepaid SIMs from major providers like STC, Mobi, Jain etc. These SIMs can be purchased by foreign tourists on arrival.
Riyadh Airport is the main international airport serving the Saudi capital. It handles major global airlines and millions of passengers every year. Visitors can easily find SIM card kiosks and shops outside immigration accounts offering prepaid SIMs from leading Saudi telecommunications companies. These include visitor limits with mobile data aimed specifically at overseas travellers.
Located in the eastern part of Dammam province, this international airport has a large retail terminal. Travelers can buy local SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports from dedicated checkout counters at check-in and arrival points. Major telecom companies have outlets in their offices.
In summary, the three major international airports of Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam have multiple locations where prepaid SIM cards issued by local Saudi telecommunications carriers can be obtained and tourists who land on that flight these stations will have a SIM card.
II. Where to buy SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports?
Here are the main locations to buy SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports within the arrival areas:
- Telecom retail counters: The major telecom companies like STC, Mobily and Zain have dedicated retail counters located just past the immigration and customs area. These counters have sales staff who can activate and set up the SIM card for you. They also provide information on data plans and packages for tourists.
- SIM card kiosks: Independent SIM card kiosks and shops are present within arrival halls of Saudi airports, usually located close to the baggage belts. These sell SIM cards from various network providers in one location for ease of comparison. You can buy and activate a SIM card quickly at these kiosks.
- Airport convenience store: Many airport duty free stores and convenience outlets also stock SIM cards from leading Saudi carriers. These shops are easily accessible in the arrival zone. You can purchase a Saudi SIM card along with other items you need at the airport.
- Departure area shops: Some stores in the departure area, accessible after passport control, also offer SIM cards for sale. This allows in-transit passengers with long layovers to buy Saudi SIMs for their onwards journey.
There are several options to purchase local SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports at the arrival hall through dedicated telecom and independent kiosks, duty free shops and other retail outlets.
III. What to prepare to buy a SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports?
Here are some tips on things to prepare and keep in mind when purchasing a SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports:
- Carry your passport – Your passport is mandatory to show as ID proof when buying a Saudi SIM card as a foreign tourist. SIM card agents will make a copy of your passport personal info page to register and activate the SIM.
- Know your phone requirements – Check if your phone has an unlocked SIM slot that can accept a foreign SIM card. Also confirm the SIM card size – regular, micro or nano – that fits your phone model before purchasing.
- Decide on a data plan – Browse prepaid data packages offered by Saudi telcos online in advance. You can choose plans with enough data, SMS and calling balance suited to your trip duration and needs. Share your preference when buying the SIM.
- Have cash ready – Most SIM card kiosks at Saudi airports accept cash payments in Saudi Riyals (SAR) or US Dollars. Have the right amount ready to make the payment smooth. Some may accept credit/debit cards as well.
- SIM PIN and PUK codes – When you buy a new SIM card, be sure to get the SIM PIN and PUK codes from the agent. This helps you unlock and access the SIM features.
- Activate before leaving the airport – Check that the SIM card is activated and working before leaving the airport. Ask the sales staff for help to test it out by making a call or using mobile data.
Following these tips will help you to swiftly obtain a functioning Saudi Arabia SIM card right after your arrival at the airport.
IV. Saudi Arabia eSIM – an Alternative to Airport SIM Card
Besides physical SIM cards, eSIM (embedded SIM) is a great alternative to get data connectivity in Saudi Arabia especially for unlocked phones and devices that support eSIM technology. Here are some benefits of using eSIM instead of SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports:
- Easy online purchase – eSIMs can be purchased digitally on provider websites without visiting a store.
- Instant activation – eSIMs activate quickly over-the-air by scanning a QR code or through mobile apps.
- Greater flexibility – You can purchase data packs on eSIM as per your actual usage and keep adding more data during the trip.
- Multi SIM functionality – eSIM allows you to access two different network provider plans on a single device simultaneously.
- Better security – eSIMs are embedded securely on device hardware and can’t be removed or stolen physically like regular SIM cards.
While SIM card at Saudi Arabia airports provide the convenience of connectivity right upon arrival, eSIMs offer greater flexibility and security during your stay in Saudi Arabia. The perfect option for you is saudiarabiaesim.com. Order your data plan from Saudi Arabia eSIM by GIGAGO before your trip.
- Pick 1-20GB data for a 30-day trip with a competitive price. Check it out:
Another option for short-term travel in 5 days, choose this convenient 5-day eSIM plan. Buy now:
You’ll be sent a QR code via email to instantly install on your device. Then enjoy fast 4G speeds anywhere in the country without roaming charges. Choose the option that best meets your travel needs.
1. Do I need to show passport to buy Saudi Arabia SIM card?
Yes, showing your original passport is mandatory at the time of purchasing a SIM card as a tourist in Saudi Arabia for registration and verification purposes.
2. How much data and validity do Saudi airport SIM cards have?
Prepaid SIMs from airport kiosks typically come with 1GB to 2GB data valid for around 7 to 15 days. Higher data packages with longer validity periods are also available.
3. Can I use Saudi SIM card in other GCC countries?
Saudi Arabia SIMs may have limited roaming access in some GCC states depending on the telecom provider. But charges could be very high for using Saudi SIMs outside Saudi Arabia.
4. Are Saudi eSIMs cheaper than physical SIM cards?
Not necessarily. The data rates for eSIMs are comparable to prepaid SIM cards. Prices vary based on data amounts, validity periods, and deals or discounts.
5. Do eSIMs work on all smartphones?
No, eSIM capability is currently limited to newer models of iPhones and few Android smartphone brands. Check your device compatibility before opting for eSIM.
6. Can I use Saudi SIM in WiFi routers or tablets?
Regular mini/micro/nano SIMs can be used in WiFi routers, tablets, laptops etc. with SIM slots. But eSIMs will not work as they are embedded into smartphones. For other devices, buy a separate physical SIM.
Purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival should be a priority for any tourist visiting Saudi Arabia to stay conveniently connected through their trip. The major Saudi Arabia airports at Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam offer multiple SIM card outlets and kiosks for foreigners right in the arrival zones.
Know your passport and phone requirements in advance to quickly buy and activate Saudi Arabia SIMs. Also consider the benefits of eSIMs that can be purchased digitally for greater flexibility. With the right SIM card or eSIM, you can have seamless cellular and data access to make the most of your time in Saudi Arabia.