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Sa

Basics Edit

These are the mobile GSM providers in Saudi Arabia:

  • STC (Jawwy)
  • Mobily
  • Zain

Since 2014 different MVNOs started in Saudia Arabia too. The most accessible to foreigners are Virgin Mobile, Friendi and Lebara mobile.

Frequencies Edit

For all 3 providers:

  • 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz up to EDGE
  • 3G is on 2100 MHz with all providers and additionally on 900 MHz on Zain only up to HSPA+
  • 4G/LTE in on 1800 MHz (B3) with all providers. Additionally there is TD-LTE on 2300 MHz (B40) on STC, TD-LTE on 2600 MHz (B38) with Mobily and FD-LTE on 2100 MHz (B1) on Zain.

Coverage and speeds Edit

Coverage is quite good in populated areas and along highways, but can be down to non-existent in remote places. STC is said to have the best coverage and speed, followed by Mobily and Zain in 3rd place.

Regulations Edit

To buy a SIM card in a store, you have to show a photo ID (and your visa) in a store of the operators. In a tightening of laws you are expected to give your fingerprints too from 2015. Note, that in public places you will be offered SIM cards by street vendors that are registered on someone's name. This should only be used as a last resort, as this is illegal and these cards can easily be switched off when detected.

In 2016 the regulator disconnected unregistered mobile subscribers, which had failed to submit their fingerprints in line with the new security measures introduced in 2015. The regulator said the fingerprint registration is meant to protect personal information of SIM cardholders and prevent buyers from obtaining mobile phones using fake or stolen ID cards.

In 2017 limits on the ownership of prepaid SIM cards in the country have been imposed by the regulator. Foreign residents (who make up more than 1/3 of the population) are now reportedly limited to two prepaid SIM cards across all provides, while Saudis are restricted to as many as ten prepaid SIM cards. This is considered a temporary procedure to correct and remedy the large number of illegal SIM cards in the market.

Censorship Edit

Saudi Arabian internet is filtered through a content filter. Sites that are considered offensive by the authorities are blacked out. But most social media or messenging through Twitter or WhatsApp are not restricted.

VoIP ban partly lifted Edit

In September 2017 the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced the lifting of the ban on all applications that provide voice and video call services over the internet, including FaceTime, Snapchat, Skype, Line, Telegram and Tango. The apps need to meet imposed regulatory requirements, including the removal of content that violates the Kingdom’s regulations. WhatsApp and Viber seem to be excluded and VoIP or video calls through these two apps remain blocked.

STC (Jawwy)Edit

Stc

STC for Saudi Telecom Company, mostly owned by the state, is market leader in Saudi Arabia with the best coverage and speed throughout the country: mobile coverage. It started with LTE in 2010 and covers around 90% of population by 2015, which is only concentrated in a few towns on 1800 MHz (band 3) and 2300 MHz in TD-LTE (band 30).

Availability Edit

STC calls their prepaid plan "SAWA" and is available at any of their stores or any mobile phone shop. (Store locator) for SR30 with SR25 credit.

Recharge cards are available from SR10 to SR300 giving 5 to 300 days of service validity depending on amount. To top up by voucher, enter *155*<voucher PIN>#. Or top-up online with internatl. credit card.

Data feature packs Edit

Data by default is SR2 per MB. These packages can be activated on the SAWA prepaid card:

Data Validity Price Activation
220 MB 7 days SR 30 6661
550 MB 7 days SR 50 6662
275 MB 30 days SR 50 6663
1.1 GB 30 days SR 90 6664
5.5 GB 30 days SR 200 6665
22 GB 30 days SR 350 6666

To activate a package, text code to 902. These packages will auto-renew. To stop send 2009, to check balance send 2220.

Data-only SIM Edit

Their data-only SIM for tablets and modems is called "QUICKnet" SIM. They are on 4G/LTE too. To activate 4G/LTE text 4466 to 902. These starter packs are sold:

  • 100 SR: 15 GB for 1 month
  • 200 SR: 100 GB for 2 months
  • 300 SR: 300 GB for 3 months

These recharge cards can be added to all three starters:

  • 100 SR: 20 GB for 1 month, activation: 2702
  • 200 SR: 120 GB for 2 months, activation: 2703
  • 300 SR: 350 GB for 3 months, activation: 2706

To activate text code to 900. When all data has been consumed, the service will continue with 32 Kbps speed until the end of package validity. Normal speed will resume when renewing the package.

More information Edit

  • APN: jawalnet.com.sa

Jawwy (from STC) Edit

Jawwy

STC has launched “Jawwy from STC" in 2016 with a new customer care model and new plans. A special Jawwy SIM is necessary to use the service, but customers will be able to keep their current numbers.

Jawwy app Edit

Everything is centered around the Jawwy app that allows to build, share and manage the plan in real time, instead of buying packages. The app offers a simple way for customers to activate services without calling customer support or visiting a store. Their app is available in both iOS and Android versions and in English too.

Availability Edit

You need to buy their SIM card first online to be delivered to Saudi-Arabia or offline in a special Click & Collect store (locator) and download their app. These starter packs are available:

  • 30 SR with 25 SR credit = minimum base plan with 500 MB and 50 mins for 1 month
  • 60 SR with 10 GB, 100 domestic minutes and 10 SR credit for 1 month
  • 180 SR with 40 GB, 400 domestic minutes valid for 3 months

For recharging you can now use regular Sawa recharge vouchers from STC.

Data options Edit

Open the Jawwy app or your personal account online to customize your monthly recurring base plan of data and minutes by choosing from the following options for data (open to 4G/LTE). First you need to choose a base plan. The minimum is a monthly plan with 500 MB and 50 mins for 15 SR to which data can be added like this:

  • per GB up to 20 GB: 10 SR per GB
  • per domestic min up to 2000 mins: 0.20 SR/min
  • 1 GB roaming data: 100 SR
  • 30 GB YouTube data: 50 SR or for free if plan is 100 SR+
  • 90 GB (max 3 GB per day) STC WiFi access for free as long as you have any plan

You can up- and downsize the data plans anytime by app. For upsize, you will be charged the price difference.

More informationEdit

MobilyEdit

Mobily

Mobily, partly owned by Etisalat, is the 2nd provider in Saudi-Arabia. It still gives good coverage and speeds in populated areas. 4G/LTE is in city centers only: coverage check on 1800 in FD-LTE and 2600 MHz in TD-LTE.

Availability Edit

They have different prepaid cards for SR 30 with SR 25 credit without data in their stores: (store-locator).

For recharges, they give high free bonus: all the SR 10, 30, 50 and 100 are doubled in valued, but bonus credit is only valid for 1, 3 ,5 or 7 days respectively.

Mobily has announced that prepaid SIM validity will now be based on activity rather than recharges only. This will apply to both new and existing subscribers. Prepaid customers should now use their package at least once within 90 days to sustain the SIM validity, whether for voice calls, SMS, internet, roaming or credit top-up. This gives greater flexibility to customers and avoid loss of their lines if not recharged.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data is SR 0.15/MB. You can add a Connect 4G Data Add-on package:

Data Validity Price Activation Renewal
150 MB 14 days SR 5 750 Renew Net150MB
500 MB 30 days SR 15 700 Renew Net500MB
1 GB 30 days SR 25 701 Renew Net1GB
2 GB 30 days SR 45 702 Renew Net2GB
5 GB 30 days SR 65 703 Renew Net5GB
10 GB 120 days SR 120 710 Renew Net10GB

To subscribe, text code to 1100, to unsubscribe, text 'UnSub <Code>' to 1100. You can refill ahead of time by texting 'Renew .....' to 1100.

Furthermore they sell these data vouchers:

  • SR 25: 1 GB for 1 month
  • SR 45: 2 GB for 1 month
  • SR 65: 5 GB for 1 month
  • SR 120: 10 GB for 3 months

You can recharge by sending an SMS to 1100 include the following: <CustomerID><VoucherNumber>. Check data balance by *1411#

Data-only SIM Edit

For data only in routers, modems and tablets, Mobiliy sells SIMs called "Connect" which are on 4G/LTE too. These can be filled by these packages:

  • 500 MB for 1 month: SR 20
  • 2 GB for 1 month: SR 55
  • 5 GB for 3 months: SR 90
  • 10 GB per month for 3 months: SR 270
  • 20 GB per month for 6 months: SR 630
  • 60 GB per month for 3 months SR 275, for 6 months SR 500, for 12 months SR 975

You can also add the vouchers mentioned above.

Roaming offer Edit

Mobily offers cheap roaming rates to about 80 countries worldwide:

  • 1 GB for 3 days: SR 99, activation: Trip1
  • 3 GB for 7 days: SR 199, activation: Trip2
  • 10 GB for 30 days: SR 349, activation: Trip3
  • 20 GB for 30 days: SR 499, activation: Trip4
  • 30 GB for 90 days: SR 799, activation: Trip5

For activation, text subcription code to 1100 or enter *1100# and choose package.

More info Edit

ZainEdit

Zain

Zain is the 3rd and smallest of the three mobile operators in Saudi-Arabia. Neverthess, it has still fair coverage in the populated areas in up to 4G/LTE, but can be very patchy elsewhere: make a coverage check. 4G is on 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz, all on FD-LTE, partly with three-band aggregation like in Jeddah. Zain offers the lowest rates in the Kingdom right now.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid plans are available at their stores: Store locator. They don't come with data. The only exception is the Shabab Prepaid starter that involves a combo plan.

Like Mobily Zain has started allowing subscribers to enjoy automatic extension to the line validity upon any kind of usage. With the new feature, the balance of prepaid lines will be extended for a further 90 days when the customer recharges, conducts a call, browses the internet or sends a SMS.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data is 0.15 SAR per MB. You can add these plans on all of their prepaid SIMs, open to 4G/LTE:

Data Validity Price Activation Deactivation
50 MB 1 day SAR 1 D50 CD50
500 MB 7 days SAR 10 D500 CD500
1 GB 30 days SAR 25 D1000 CD1000
2 GB 30 days SAR 45 D2000 CD2000
5 GB 30 days SAR 65 D5000 CD5000
10 GB 90 days SAR 110 10GB C10GB
75 GB 90 days SAR 199 75GB C75GB
300 GB 90 days SAR 299 300GB C300GB
600 GB 180 days SAR 549 600GB C600GB
1 TB 360 days SAR 999 1TB C1TB

Activation is by texting the code to 959. To check data balance, text 'BC' to 959. All packages auto-renew.

Data-only SIM Edit

As data-only SIM called SPEED 4G, Zain sells these internet plans as starter packs:

Data SMS Validity Price
2 GB 100 30 days SAR 45
5 GB 200 30 days SAR 65
10 GB 300 90 days SAR 119
75 GB 1000 90 days SAR 199
300 GB 2200 90 days SAR 299
600 GB 3400 180 days SAR 549
1 TB 5000 360 days SAR 999

Purchase is online through your personal profile.

Roaming offers Edit

They offer very cheap roaming rates in the UAE on Etisalat for data:

  • 2 days of unlimited data: 129 SAR, activation: UAE2 to 959
  • 7 days of unlimited data: 349 SAR, activation: UAE7 to 959

Furthermore, they offer data roaming bundles to about 80 countries worldwide (list):

  • 2 GB for 3 days: 99 SAR, activation: RD2 to 959
  • 4 GB for 7 days: 199 SAR, activation: RD4 to 959
  • 10 GB for 30 days: 299 SAR, activation: RD10 to 959

To check bundle balance, text RBC to 959.

More infoEdit

Friendi mobile Edit

Friendi logo

Friendi mobile, managed by the Virgin Mobile group, is the first MVNO in the kingdom. It started in October 2014 on the network of Zain in 2G and 3G (for coverage see above). It is mostly directed to expatriates.

Availability Edit

The prepaid SIM starter pack is sold for SR 25 with SR 20 credit valid for 21 days, in their stores all over the country: store finder. It comes as a standard prepaid card or can be changed to a Data SIM by dialling *113#.

Friendi has a 60 days recharge validity and gives you 200% bonus for recharges of SR 200 and more and 100% for SR 100 on the vocie SIM. Check balance by *102#.

Data feature packages Edit

On the standard voice & data SIM default rate is 0.15 RS per MB. You can book these packages:

Data Validity Price
30 MB 1 day RS 1.99
100 MB 3 days RS 4.99
200 MB 7 days RS 10
500 MB 14 days RS 14.99
750 MB 30 days RS 19.99
1 GB 30 days RS 29.99
2 GB 30 days RS 44.99

Activation, data check and stop of auto-renew is by typing *108# <call>

Data-only SIM Edit

On the data-only SIM card, these monthly packages can be added:

  • 2 GB: RS 50
  • 3 GB: RS 70
  • 5 GB: RS 110

Activation, data check and stop of auto-renew is by typing *109# <call>

More info Edit

Virgin mobile Edit

Virgin mobile

In 2014 Virgin Mobile started its own brand in Saudi Arabia. It operates as a MVNO on the network of Zain in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for coverage and frequencies see above). It's directed to the urban youth.

Availability Edit

The prepaid SIM starter pack is sold for SR 30 with SR 25 credit in their store: store finder. The starter pack comes with three SIM cards: one for voice and two for data. Start-up credit is vaild for 21 days.

For a recharge you get bonus: recharge 10 SAR: another 2 SAR for 3 days; for 20 SAT: 10 SAR for 7 days; for 50 SAR: 50 SAR for 14 days and for 100 SAR: 100 SAR for 30 days. Check balance by *102#.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data rate is 0.55 SAR per MB going down to 0.10 SAR/MB after you have used more than 30 SAR. You can add these packages:

Data Validaty Price
30 MB 1 day 2 SAR
100 MB 1 day 4 SAR
250 MB 3 days 8 SAR
300 MB 7 days 10 SAR
1.5 GB 15 days 30 SAR
500 MB 30 days 14 SAR
700 MB 30 days 20 SAR
1 GB 30 days 24 SAR
2 GB 30 days 45 SAR
3 GB 30 days 65 SAR
6 GB 30 days 130 SAR
10 GB 30 days 215 SAR

Activation is by typing *110#.

More info Edit

Lebara mobile Edit

Lebara SA

In 2014, Lebara mobile, the leading ethno provider from the UK, started its first non-European MVNO in Saudi Arabia. It operates on the network of Mobily in 2G and 3G (see coverage above) and targets mainly migrant workers.

Availability Edit

The prepaid SIM starter pack ard recharge vouchers are sold in their stores: store finder.

For every recharge you get free data: For a top-up of 10 SAR you'll get 50 MB, 20 SAR - 200 MB, 50 SAR - 500 MB and 100 SAR - 1 GB free bonus data.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data rate is 0.15 SAR per MB. You can add these monthly packages called Mobile Net Savers:

Data Validity Price Activation
30 MB 7 days SAR 2 *777*030#
80 MB 7 days SAR 5 *777*080#
200 MB 7 days SAR 9 *777*200#
250 MB 30 days SAR 15 *777*250#
500 MB 30 days SAR 19 *777*500#
1 GB 30 days SAR 29 *777*1000#
2 GB 30 days SAR 49 *777*2000#
5 GB 30 days SAR 99 *777*5000#
20 GB 30 days SAR 249 *777*20000#

You can buy as many Mobile Net Savers as you like as often as you like. Mobile Net Savers don't auto-renew on the expiry date or on exhaustion of the data allowance.

More info Edit

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