Welcome to Riyadh! One of the first things you should do upon arrival at Riyadh airport should be to get a local SIM card so you can stay connected during your trip. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about buying a SIM card at Riyadh Airport, including where to get it, choosing the best SIM card, costs, documentation requirements, and options like e-SIM Let’s install below!

Sim card at Riyadh Airport featured image

I. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Riyadh Airport

1. SIM Card Kiosks in Arrival Area

Zain Kiosk at at Riyadh Airport
  • After passing through immigration and customs, you will see SIM card kiosks set up at the arrivals table.
  • This kiosk sells SIM playing cards from various providers like STC, Mobily and Jain. The personnel allow you to choose and introduce the proper SIM card for your desires. They generally talk English and may assist with the activation manner.
  • Shopping from the check-in counter is handy as it can be prepare immediately upon landing. The kiosks be given coins and credit card bills.

2. Mobile Provider Shops/Counters

  • There also are shops/counters devoted to personal vendors like STC, Mobily and Jain located in the appearance hall.
  • You can go to these stores to examine packages across extraordinary companies and get detailed records.
  • The staff can also help you with the SIM activation process. These stores accept cash and credit card payments.

3. Supermarkets & Stores After Arrivals

  • Supermarkets and shops nearby sell SIM cards after clearing immigration. Look for brands like SACO or Tamimi Markets.
  • While the selection may be limited, prices can be cheaper than takeaway locations.
  • You may need to find a member of staff to assist with activation. These places usually charge only cash.
Saco Riyadh Airport

II. Riyadh Airport SIM Card Options and Costs

The main mobile operators at Riyadh Airport are STC, Mobily, and Zain. Let’s overview the SIM card options, speeds, and approximate costs for each provider:

Operator Package Data Price
STC sawa basic 1GB ~$9
sawa like plus 7GB ~$23
sawa share plus 25GB ~$35
sawa post plus 65GB ~$52
Mobily Prepaid 30 1GB ~$8
Prepaid 75 10GB ~$20
Prepaid 150 59GB ~$30
Zain Visitor 30 3GB ~$9
Visitor 50 15GB ~$15
Visitor 70 10GB ~$22
Visitor 130 25GB ~$40

When choosing a SIM, consider data speeds, network coverage, and whether you need lots of calling/text or more data. Also look at plan expiration – some prepaid plans expire quickly if not in use.

Tips:

  • If you are unsure which SIM card to choose, ask a retailer for assistance.
  • Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the SIM card before you buy it.
  • If you are planning on using your phone for voice calls, you should choose a SIM card that includes voice calls.
  • Some SIM cards may not work in all areas of Saudi Arabia, so be sure to check the coverage map before you buy a SIM card.

III. What You Need to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Riyadh Airport

You’ll need things below to purchase and activate a SIM card:

  • Passport – This item is required for buying any SIM card as a foreigner. The shop will make a photocopy of your passport page with your details.
  • Etasalat Number – This is a visitor ID number you receive when entering Saudi Arabia. It should be stamped in your passport. Provide this number when activating the SIM.
  • Active SIM Card – You need an active SIM card for the verification process. If you don’t have a working SIM, ask shop staff to help.
  • Cash/Credit Card for Payment – Shops accept both cash and credit card payments. Prices range from 20-100 SAR depending on your selected plan.

With these items, the activation process will be smooth and you’ll be connected in no time!

IV. eSIM as an Alternative to SIM Card at Riyadh Airport

Instead of a physical SIM card, consider an eSIM if you have an eSIM-compatible phone like newer iPhones or Android models. Here are the benefits:

  • Convenience – No need to find a shop and wait in line – set up entirely online.
  • Flexibility – Can switch SIM profiles easily without swapping physical cards.
  • Security – No physical SIM card that could get lost or stolen.

Popular eSIM providers in Saudi include STC, Mobily, and Zain. Others providers like saudiarbiaesim.com by GIGAGO can also supply wonderful eSIM service. Just research eSIM plans for 5 days or even 30 days in Saudi Arabia eSIM, purchase online, and download the profile to your phone. 

V. FAQs

1. Do I need to show my passport/ID to buy a SIM card in Riyadh?

Yes, you will need to show your passport and Etasalat visa number to purchase and activate any SIM card as a foreign visitor. Shops will photocopy your passport info.

2. Can I use my existing SIM card from another country in Riyadh?

Most international SIM cards do not work in Saudi Arabia. Local SIM cards are very affordable, so it’s best to purchase one upon arrival for the best rates and coverage.

3. How long does it take to activate a new SIM card in Riyadh?

If you have all the required documentation, the activation process only takes about 10-15 minutes in most cases. You’ll walk away with a working SIM.

4. Are there SIM card vending machines at Riyadh Airport?

Currently there are no self-service SIM vending machines. You will need to visit a dedicated SIM card shop or kiosk and show your passport to purchase a SIM.

5. Can I use the airport WiFi hotspot instead of buying a SIM?

Airport WiFi is typically unreliable and may have data caps, security issues, or slow speeds. A local SIM card is recommended for stable connectivity during your trip.

VI. Final Words

Getting a SIM card at Riyadh Airport is quick and easy if you come prepared with your passport, visitor ID number, and a bit of cash. Look for arrival hall kiosks or mobile operator stores to compare plans across STC, Mobily, and Zain. With an activated SIM in hand, you’ll stay conveniently connected for calls, texting, and mobile data during your entire Saudi visit. Alternatively, an eSIM provides a digital profile that may be more convenient than managing a physical card. Whatever option you choose, you’ll be set up for a smooth start to your Riyadh travels with mobile service ready upon arrival.