Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is the largest mobile operator in Saudi Arabia. As a tourist visiting Saudi Arabia, getting connected on an STC SIM card or eSIM is essential for staying in touch on your trip. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know about using STC in Saudi Arabia as a visitor, including coverage, connectivity options, where to buy SIMs/eSIMs, plans, rates, and more.

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I. Quick facts about STC Saudi Arabia

STC is the incumbent telecom operator in Saudi Arabia with over 25 million mobile subscribers. Some key facts about STC:

  • STC has over 98% population coverage in Saudi Arabia.
  • Its network uses 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE technology. 5G rollout started in 2020.
  • STC offers prepaid and postpaid mobile services as well as mobile broadband.
  • Prepaid STC SIM cards and eSIMs are available for tourists.
  • STC has affordable data packs, calling rates, and SMS rates.
  • Online recharge is available through STC website/app using international credit/debit cards.

II. Saudi Arabia STC Coverage and Speed

1. STC coverage in Saudi Arabia

STC SIM card covermap

STC has the widest mobile network in Saudi Arabia covering 98% of the population. It has extensive 4G LTE coverage across all major cities, towns, highways, tourist spots, airports, etc.

2G network on 900 MHz has excellent penetration and covers almost the entire country. 3G is available on 2100 MHz in most populated areas.

STC 4G LTE is available on 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz offering high-speed mobile broadband across Saudi Arabia. 5G rollout has also begun starting 2020.

So as a tourist, you can expect excellent STC mobile coverage and speeds in most areas you visit in Saudi Arabia.

2. STC speed in Saudi Arabia

STC SIM card download speed

STC is continuously expanding and improving its network. With the launch of 5G, users can expect a further increase in speeds and coverage in coming years.

STC SIM card upload speed

STC achieved the fastest average 4G download speeds according to the OpenSignal report. However, it lagged significantly behind Mobily in terms of coverage. The report found Mobily had the best 4G availability in Saudi Arabia at 95.5%, higher than both STC and Zain.

STC’s slightly faster speeds will offer little benefit to tourists if the network is not consistently available across a wide area. While STC performs well on speed tests, Mobily’s unparalleled coverage in Saudi Arabia makes it the safer choice for tourists relying on their mobile network abroad.

III. STC connectivity options for travelers to Saudi Arabia

As a tourist in Saudi Arabia, you have many options to connect to STC’s mobile network:

Connectivity OptionProsCons
STC Prepaid SIM Card– Most affordable option
– Works with your own device
– Can make/receive calls and SMS
– Need to swap SIM cards
– Still roaming charges if not on STC network abroad
STC Pocket WiFi– Portable WiFi hotspot
– Can connect multiple devices
– No swapping SIM cards
– More expensive than SIM card
– Cannot make/receive calls or SMS
– Limited to WiFi coverage area
STC Data Roaming– Seamless connectivity abroad
– No need to buy local SIM
– Very expensive rates
– Data usage limits apply
– Slow speeds outside STC network

In summary:

  • STC prepaid SIM is most convenient and affordable option for Saudi Arabia
  • Pocket WiFi good for travelers who need portable WiFi access
  • STC roaming should be avoided due to high costs; purchase local SIM instead

IV. Best STC SIM card for tourists & cost

The prepaid STC SIM card is the best choice for tourists when picking an STC SIM card. With a reasonable and various range of prices, you can have a better experience with a prepaidSTC SIM card.

PlanPriceDataCalling & SMS
Sawa flex 340$104.2290 GB data, 110 GB social1000 mins local & intl calls
Sawa hero$110.36Unlimited dataUnlimited calls & SMS local networks
Sawa star plus$73.57100 GB dataUnlimited calls local networks
Sawa post$49.0561 GB dataUnlimited calls within STC
Sawa share plus$35.2525 GB data, 30 GB socialUnlimited calls STC, 500 mins other networks
Sawa like$19.934 GB data, 5 GB social500 mins calls STC network
Sawa flex basic$10.731GB data, 1GB social100 mins local & intl calls
Sawa basic$9.201GB data, 1GB social100 mins calls all networks

Each of the prepaid plans is suitable for different tourist’s purposes. If tourists visiting for a short period and mostly using WhatsApp/texting, they would be well suited to the Sawa Flex basic plan. It’s affordably priced and offers sufficient data and call time for light usage over a week or so.

V. Does STC Saudi Arabia support eSIM?

Yes, STC launched eSIM support in Saudi Arabia in 2020. If you have an eSIM capable device like the latest iPhone or Android phone, you can use STC eSIM in Saudi Arabia.

To use STC eSIM, your phone must have:

  • eSIM facility enabled
  • Unlocked to work with foreign carriers
  • Latest OS updates installed

Many flagship phones of Samsung, Apple, Google Pixel, Motorola, OnePlus now support eSIM activation.

Check your phone settings to see if “Add cellular plan” option is available. This allows adding STC Saudi Arabia eSIM.

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

STC-store

If you’re still confused of where to buy an STC SIM card and eSIM, the instructions below will help you.

1. Where to buy STC SIM for Saudi Arabia?

  • STC Stores: STC has stores located across major cities in Saudi Arabia where you can purchase STC SIM card. Most large malls and commercial areas will have an STC store.
  • Authorized Resellers: STC SIMs are also available from authorized resellers and phone shops. These include outlets like Virgin Megastore, Jarir Bookstore etc.
  • Airports: Many international airports in Saudi Arabia like Jeddah and Riyadh have STC kiosks or shops near arrival terminals where you can buy a SIM.
  • Online: STC SIMs can be ordered online via the STC website or app. They will deliver it to your location in 1-2 working days.
  • Hotels: Some higher-end hotels may have STC SIM kits available at the reception for guests.
  • Major shopping areas: Places like Tahlia Street in Riyadh, Aziz Mall in Jeddah have many shops selling STC and other operator SIMs.

It’s advisable to carry your passport when purchasing a SIM as you’ll need to provide personal details for verification. STC SIMs are widely and easily available across KSA.

2. Where to buy Saudi Arabia STC eSIM?

To buy STC Saudi Arabia eSIM before your trip, visit STC eSIM website:

  • Create an account, choose your plan, make payment by international card and activate your eSIM digitally.
  • Works only on eSIM compatible phones. Confirm eSIM activation before leaving home.
  • Visit their website, choose Saudi Arabia STC eSIM, activate on your phone after payment.

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

Activating STC SIM card or eSIM is quick and easy in Saudi Arabia:

1. How to activate STC Saudi Arabia SIM

STC sim card
  • Buy STC prepaid SIM at airport shop or STC outlet. Submit passport copy.
  • Insert SIM in your phone. Select STC network manually or turn on cellular data.
  • Open browser on phone. It will redirect to STC prepaid activation page.
  • Choose prepaid plan. Enter passport number. Submit OTP received by SMS.
  • SIM activation completed. Make calls, use mobile data immediately.

2. How to activate STC Saudi Arabia eSIM

If you have STC eSIM profiles:

  • On iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan. Scan eSIM QR code or enter details manually.
  • On Android, go to Settings > Network & Internet > SIMs > Add mobile plan. Scan QR code or enter eSIM details.
  • Follow activation process. Enter passport number for identity verification when prompted.
  • May need to chat with STC support to verify if initial activation fails.
  • Once activated, eSIM plan will show under Cellular/Mobile plans. Enable it to use STC Saudi Arabia service.

Please check your detailed instructions below:

That’s it! You can now start using mobile data, make calls and send SMS in Saudi Arabia with STC prepaid SIM or eSIM without roaming charges.

VIII. Saudi Arabia STC Call & SMS Rates

Here are the latest STC prepaid call and SMS rates for tourists:

Call/SMS TypeRate
Calls within Mobily networkFree
Calls to other mobily numbersSR 0.55/minute
Calls to 3 digit and emergency numbersFree
Calls to short codes (4-6 digits)Calculated from package minutes. Once used, SR 0.55/minute within network
Calls to 9200 numbersCalculated from package minutes. Once used, SR 15 Halala/minute
SMS within Mobily networkSR 0.25/SMS
SMS to other networksSR 0.35/SMS

So with an STC prepaid SIM, you can stay connected affordably on local calls & text messages. International calls are reasonably priced to call back home.

IX. Useful USSD codes for STC Saudi Arabia SIM/eSIM

USSD codes allow you to access useful STC service menu directly from your phone dial pad. Some helpful STC Saudi USSD codes:

  • *100# – Check SIM balance
  • *101# – Check data balance
  • *140*number# – Call forwarding
  • *124*16digitpin# – Change SIM PIN
  • *125*newpin*newpin# – Change mobile PUK
  • *122*0# – Call waiting on
  • *122*1# – Call waiting off
  • *111# – STC customer care

So dial these codes directly on your STC Saudi SIM to check balances, enabled services, change passwords, etc. directly on your phone.

X. How to Top-up Saudi Arabia STC SIM Card/eSIM

To add more credit on your prepaid STC SIM card/eSIM, you can use the following top up options:

  • STC mobile app – Install mySTC app on your phone. Login to your STC prepaid account on the app. Go to Top up option and recharge your SIM.
  • STC stores/outlets – Visit nearest STC store or retailer outlet. Show your prepaid SIM number. Pay cash to recharge account. Get top-up voucher instantly.
  • International top-up cards – Some Middle East focussed calling cards allow topping up Saudi Arabia STC SIMs from abroad. However, online top-up is easiest option.

So with STC prepaid, recharging your account is quick and convenient through online payments or vouchers when running low on credit.

XI. Alternatives to Saudi Arabia STC

Though STC has the best coverage, you can also consider these alternatives providers when visiting Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia eSIM – Saudi Arabia eSIM offers eSIM plans for travel to Saudi Arabia with reasonable price, ranging from $13.50 to $127.5.
  • Mobily – Second largest provider after STC. Offers prepaid SIMs for tourists.
  • Zain – Third biggest mobile operator in Saudi Arabia. Has prepaid SIMs at arrival airports.
  • Virgin Mobile – MVNO using Mobily network. Affordable data-centric tourist SIM card.

However, STC overall remains the top choice for tourists due its wide 4G coverage, reliability, and strong network across Saudi Arabia.

XII. FAQs about STC in Saudi Arabia

1. Does STC have prepaid SIM card for tourists?

Yes, STC offers prepaid SIMs widely available for tourists in Saudi Arabia. The STC Travel SIM is designed specifically for foreign tourists visiting Saudi.

2. Can I use STC SIM in other countries?

No, STC SIM works only in Saudi Arabia on domestic network. It does not allow international roaming. Switch to a local SIM when traveling outside Saudi.

3. How long is prepaid STC SIM card valid?

STC Travel SIM validity is 180 days. Unused credit also remains valid for 180 days from last recharge. To extend validity, simply do a top-up.

4. How to check STC prepaid balance?

To check your STC prepaid balance, dial *100#. It will show your remaining credit balance and validity.

5. How to refill STC prepaid SIM in Saudi Arabia?

You can easily recharge your STC prepaid SIM through STC website, mobile app, stores, and prepaid vouchers in Saudi Arabia.

6. How to get Saudi SIM card as a tourist?

Easiest way is to buy prepaid tourist SIM card at the airport on arrival in Saudi Arabia. Bring passport for verification. STC and Mobily have counters at arrival airports.

7. Does STC provide WiFi?

Yes, STC provides public WiFi service called TAWAL in Saudi Arabia at airports, malls, cafes etc. Just connect to TAWAL WiFi on your phone using STC prepaid account details.

XIII. Final Words

STC offers excellent connectivity with wide 4G coverage across Saudi Arabia making it the top choice local SIM card provider for tourists. Their prepaid STC SIM card is easy to get at airports while STC eSIM allows activating your plan digitally before departure. Just follow the activation steps correctly and have your passport ready to enjoy seamless mobile service during your Saudi trip with an STC SIM or eSIM.