There are different kinds of natural resources located in the world, but not all countries possess all these resources. For example, despite the presence of deserts, there is one country whose beaches attract tourists, which is Saudi Arabia. It would be better if you have a local Saudi Arabia sim card while traveling around the country for calling, texting or using data services throughout the trip. The following guide provides useful details that can help a tourist purchase the right Saudi Arabia SIM card.

I. Should I Buy a New SIM Card for My Saudi Arabia Trip?

Saudi Arabia sim card image

It is always advisable to get a new Saudi Arabia SIM card while in the county especially if one is just a tourist. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Stay connected through calls and texts: Connect with your friends or business contacts still in the country making local rate call and text within Saudi Arabia.
  • Mobile data access nationwide: Using map, translation apps, social media or any other internet service while traveling within Saudi Arabia is possible with mobile data coverage.
  • Avoid roaming charges from your home network: Roaming on your normal SIM would entail considerable costs, as opposed to using a local SIM that has low call rates, texts and datas.
  • Gain access to a local mobile number: For instance, it gives you an opportunity to subscribe to those applications or services which demand of a local contact. In addition, you can be called by residents freely.

Thus in conclusion, having the Saudi Arabia SIM as the visitor keeps well linked up with the indigenes and their travels.

II. Saudi Arabia SIM Card Types – Which One is the Best for Tourists?

Saudi Arabia SIM Card Types

There are a few different types of SIM cards available in Saudi Arabia for tourists to choose from:

Prepaid SIM Cards

Tourists in Saudi Arabia purchase prepaid SIM-cards by far. They provide these benefits:

  • Pay as you go: Only pay for what you use, without any contracts
  • Flexibility: Easily top up data, minutes as required
  • Control spending: No bill shocks, manage costs as you go
  • Short-term use: Ideal for a trip of few weeks or months

Prepaid SIMs can be purchased at airports, local mobile shops, retailers like supermarkets, and even online. Major providers include STC, Mobily and Zain.

Postpaid SIM Cards

Postpaid SIMs include entering into a service contract with the mobile service provider whereby a fixed payment is made every month.

  • Long-term contracts (12 months+)
  • Need valid ID/residency permit
  • Security deposit required
  • Monthly bills

Unless you are staying very long-term, prepaid is typically better for travel.

eSIMs

To tourists, they are more convenient because eSIM could arrange for the service upon his/her arrival. However eSIM options are currently limited in Saudi Arabia.

III. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Saudi Arabia?

The use of data during a trip depends on an individual’s needs and as such, the corresponding data requirements may differ significantly. Here are some considerations on data needs:

Usage LevelData AllowanceTrip DurationPurpose
Light Usage2-4GB1-2 weeksOccasional emails, simple maps, translating words
Moderate Usage6-12GB1-3 weeksMore frequent social media, navigation, music streaming
Heavy Usage15-30GB or more1-4 weeksStreaming movies/shows, online gaming, VR usage

Many Saudi prepaid SIMs can be topped up if you run low during the trip. But it’s better to get more than you need vs less. You can always have data leftovers.

IV. How Much Does a Saudi Arabia SIM Card Cost?

Costs for prepaid Saudi Arabia SIM cards are quite affordable, with the following typical rates:

  • SIM card: 25 SAR (~$7 USD) which includes some initial credit.
  • Data: 1GB for 15-20 SAR (~$4-$5.5 USD), packages up to 30GB.
  • Calls/texts: From 0.25 SAR per minute/text.

Many options exist across price points depending on data amounts. Zain, Mobily and STC are the top networks with prepaid SIMs starting around 25 SAR.

Overall, you can find tourist SIMs for Saudi Arabia from 25-150 SAR with calling, texting and 1GB+ of data included. Extra data top-ups are inexpensive if needed later on your trip.

V. Saudi Arabia eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards

In Saudi Arabia, although the growth of eSIM adoption is slow, it provides a digital alternative to physical SIM cards for unlocking phones. Some benefits include:

  • No SIM card required – eSIM is downloaded to your phone
  • Setup online pre-arrival – Skip buying local SIM at the airport
  • Easy activation – Provider activates eSIM remotely
  • Dual SIM mode – Use your regular SIM + Saudi eSIM

However, there are a small number of eSIM options available. Mobily has tourist prepaid eSIM while STC and Zain have resident postpaid eSIM. Saudi Arabia eSIM by GIGAGO, which is a third-party eSim supplier, ensures your connectivity without interruptions. This implies that while on transit to Saudi Arabia, you will be able to access the internet as well as your loved ones.

VI. Where to Buy a Saudi Arabia SIM Card?

Where to Buy a Saudi Arabia SIM Card

There are several options to purchase a Saudi Arabia SIM card:

  • Mobile carrier stores: Major carriers like STC, Mobily and Zain have stores across the country. Can get all types of SIMs and plans.
  • Airports: Most international airports like Riyadh and Jeddah have SIM stalls that are easy to locate. Good option upon arrival.
  • Supermarkets: Large supermarket chains like Panda and Tamimi Markets sell prepaid SIM cards at affordable prices
  • Online: Websites like STC.com.sa allow ordering a SIM card online with delivery. Useful if you can’t find a store.
  • Hotel: Many hotels partner with SIM providers and can assist foreign guests with purchase and set up in the room.
  • Street vendors: In busy areas, agents move around offering SIM deals. Be wary of inflated prices or invalid cards from informal sellers.
  • Shopping malls: SIM stores located inside large malls provide all purchase and recharge needs under one roof.

For convenience, purchasing at the airport on arrival is the easiest option for tourists. But visiting a provider store or supermarket works as well during your trip.

VII. How to Set Up Your Saudi Arabia SIM

Activating your new Saudi Arabia SIM card is a quick and easy process:

Step 1: Insert SIM and Restart Device – Turn off phone, insert the new SIM card (replacing your home SIM), then turn phone back on.

Step 2: Connect to Mobile Network – Your phone will auto-detect and connect to the local mobile network. Wait for the signal to register.

Step 3: Enter SIM PIN Code – If prompted, enter the PIN code for the SIM which is provided on the SIM packaging or card.

Step 4: Follow Activation Instructions – Usually the SIM provider will send activation instructions via SMS. Follow the steps to register your SIM and add data/credit.

Step 5: Setup Data/Calling Packages – Use the provider app or dial service menu to add data packs and calling credits to start using your SIM!

That’s it! Within a few minutes, you can have mobile service for your Saudi Arabia trip.

VIII. Best Mobile Operators for Saudi Arabia SIM Cards

Here are the top three providers tourists should consider for prepaid Saudi Arabia SIM cards:

OperatorCoverageSIM Price RangeProsConseSIM Available?
STC95-98%~$5-$27Largest network, great coverageCan be more expensiveYes
Mobily95-97%~$2-$22Competitive prices, large data bundlesCoverage not as wide as STCYes
Zain93-95%~$3-$20Affordable plans, many promotionsLower coverage compared to STC/MobilyYes

All three networks have excellent nationwide coverage, fast LTE speeds and affordable prepaid packages. Each offers great options for tourist SIMs in Saudi Arabia.

IX. Tips for Saving Data on Saudi Arabia SIM Card

To reduce data usage on your Saudi SIM and avoid costly top-ups, follow these tips:

  • Use WiFi whenever available in hotels, cafes etc.
  • Download maps, music via WiFi before traveling outdoors
  • Disable auto app updates; update manually over WiFi
  • Limit streaming, download content in advance
  • Keep data roaming off to avoid charges outside KSA
  • Track usage in settings to monitor consumption

Following these tips will help you minimize unnecessary data usage and stick within your prepaid SIM allowance during your Saudi trip!

X. FAQs

1. Can I use my regular SIM card from home in Saudi Arabia?

You can, but it is very expensive as you will pay high roaming rates for calls, texts and mobile data. A local SIM is much cheaper.

2. Are there SIM card scams to watch out for?

Only buy SIMs from official mobile provider stores/kiosks, authorized resellers, or major retailers. Avoid street vendors.

3. Do I need to show passport/ID to buy a SIM card?

No, you can purchase a prepaid tourist SIM with just cash. No identification is required.

4. Can I use a Saudi SIM across the Middle East?

No, Saudi SIMs only provide service within Saudi Arabia. Roaming charges apply outside the country.

5. Are there any activation fees for prepaid Saudi SIMs?

No, prepaid SIMs offer great value without any activation fees or contracts. You just pay for the SIM credit upfront.

XI. Conclusion

Getting a Saudi Arabia SIM card is highly recommended for staying conveniently connected on your trip through calls, texts and internet data. Prepaid tourist SIMs are affordable at just ~25 SAR and provide excellent local mobile service across the kingdom. With a local Saudi SIM, you can have constant access to maps, travel apps, social media, messaging and more. This allows you to better explore everything Saudi Arabia has to offer!