If you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia, getting a local prepaid SIM card is the most convenient and cost-effective way to stay connected while visiting the Kingdom. With an STC SIM card, you can whatsapp friends back home, use navigation apps, stream music and videos during your travels in Saudi Arabia without paying expensive roaming charges on your regular carrier. Read on this guide for the best choice!


I. Quick facts about STC Saudi Arabia

STC - On top Mobile Operators in Saudi Arabia

STC (Saudi Telecom Company) is the largest integrated telecommunications service provider in Saudi Arabia. Here are some key facts about STC:

  • Founded: 1998
  • Full company name: Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
  • Types of services provided: Mobile telephony, fixed telephony, internet, data and cloud, wholesale, cyber security, smart cities and digital solutions.
  • Number of subscribers: Over 33 million subscribers as of 2022. STC has the largest market share of mobile subscribers in Saudi Arabia.
  • Coverage: STC provides 4G LTE coverage to over 95% of the population in Saudi Arabia. It has the most extensive nationwide network coverage spanning both urban and rural areas.
  • Estimated number of network of stores, agents: Over 2,000+ STC branded stores and outlets across the Kingdom. It has exclusive selling agreements with all major supermarkets and retailers.
  • Customer support: STC provides 24/7 multi-channel customer support in Arabic, English and other major languages. Customers can seek help via telephone hotlines, live chat, social media and over 500 service centers. STC aims to address all queries within 60 minutes.

As the dominant mobile operator in the country, STC has the widest 4G network reach and largest retail presence. It continuously invests in infrastructure to provide reliable connectivity and quality customer experience across Saudi Arabia.

II. Saudi Arabia STC Coverage and Speed

1. STC coverage in Saudi Arabia

STC SIM card coverage map
STC coverage map. Source: nperf.com

STC has one of the most far-reaching telecommunications networks in Saudi Arabia, with extensive coverage across both urban and remote areas of the Kingdom. The company’s 4G LTE infrastructure extends to over 98% of the Saudi population nationwide.

This widespread 4G network allows STC to provide reliable voice and high-speed mobile internet to customers in even the most secluded villages and highway corridors. Major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam are served by advanced 5G networks capable of speeds over 1Gbps.

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 Download Speed
STC Download Speed. Source: Opensignal

STC prides itself on operating one of the fastest mobile networks in the Middle East region. Independent speed tests have consistently ranked STC at the top for average 4G download and upload speeds across Saudi Arabia.

In major cities with access to advanced infrastructure, STC’s 4G network is capable of blazing fast speeds. According to the latest data from Ookla, the global leader in fixed broadband and mobile network testing, STC achieved an average 4G download speed of 242.4 Mbps. These speeds allow customers to seamlessly browse rich content, stream high definition videos, play multiplayer games and use data-heavy applications without any lag. Even in less developed areas, STC’s nationwide 4G network ensures competitive speeds well above 10Mbps.

III. STC Connectivity Options for Travelers to Saudi Arabia

STC offers various connectivity options for travelers visiting Saudi Arabia, including local SIM card, Pocket Wifi or Roaming. Let’s see the pros and cons of each.

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
Roaming with STC– Seamless connectivity abroad
– No need to buy local SIM
– Very expensive rates
– Data usage limits apply
– Slow speeds outside STC network

Overall, a prepaid STC SIM provides the best value and consistent experience for keeping connected on the go in Saudi Arabia. With a SIM, travelers will not experience disruptions in service that roaming may cause. It also allows utilizing messaging and calling features freely within KSA. 

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 Saudi Arabia does support eSIM connectivity for their customers. While eSIM adoption is still growing, STC offers eSIM profiles that can be activated on compatible devices. Visitor to Saudi Arabia have the option to purchase eSIM data plans directly from STC before or upon arrival. This allows them to conveniently set up cellular service digitally on eSIM-enabled phones without needing a physical nano-SIM.

eSIM provides a digital solution for visiting tourists to experience simple, seamless cellular connectivity in Saudi Arabia without the drawbacks of roaming or physical SIM logistics. It presents a smarter way for travelers to stay online.

VI. Where Can You Buy an STC SIM Card and eSIM?

1. Where to buy STC SIM for Saudi Arabia?

Getting STC SIM card
Getting STC SIM card – STC Store
  • 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.
  • 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: You can order prepaid SIM cards through the STC website stc.com.sa and have them delivered within 1-2 days in Saudi.

So in summary, STC SIMs are widely available across retail channels in KSA for convenience. It’s advisable to carry your passport when purchasing a SIM as you’ll need to provide personal details for verification.

2. Where to buy Saudi Arabia STC eSIM?

STC eSIM - Where to buy
Where to buy STC eSIM?

For purchasing STC eSIM, online stores of STC provides the most direct access for visitors to digitally activate an eSIM in KSA on STC’s cellular network.

You can buy STC eSIM plans directly from the STC online store through their website stc.com.sa and have them activated remotely. Payment is by credit card.

  • 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

  • Step 1: Insert your SIM card: Locate the SIM card on your mobile device
  • Step 2: Power on your device: Turn on the device and wait for it to recognize the SIM card
  • Step 3: Activate the SIM card: Once your device is connected to the STC network, you may need to activate your SIM card.
  • Step 4: Set up APN settings if you can not use the eSIM
  • Step 5: Check your balance and service

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.

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:

  • 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.

If your device is eSIM compatible, consider eSIM from saudiarabiaesim.com. It offers great value prepaid data packages that work on the Mobily network – one of the largest mobile network in the country besides STC. With options starting from as low as $5 for 7 days of internet access, it has a plan to suit every travel budget.

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XII. FAQs about STC in Saudi Arabia

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.

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.

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.

How to check STC prepaid balance?

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

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.

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.

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. Don’t forget to consider eSIM from saudiarabiaesim.com, which offers a hassle-free choice for budget international SIM usage compared to traditional physical SIM options like STC, a much more seamless solution for staying connected in Saudi Arabia.