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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 possibly 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 2 prepaid SIM cards across all providers, while Saudis are restricted to as many as 10 prepaid SIM cards. This is considered a temporary procedure to curtail the large number of illegal SIM cards in the market.

The Saudi regulator (CITC) announced that mobile users are no longer required to enter their identification numbers to recharge prepaid SIM cards. The commission had made it mandatory for prepaid SIM users to enter their ID (Iqama) numbers in 2012 in a bid to curb the sale of unauthorized SIM cards.

In 2018 a new tax of 5% is imposed to any top-ups or packages which is not yet fully included in all prices below.

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 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, Tango, Viber or WhatsApp calls and video calls. The apps need to meet imposed regulatory requirements, including the removal of content that violates the Kingdom’s regulations. Be aware that any traffic through these apps will be heavily monitored by the authoritites.

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).

It channels now its prepaid products mostly to the new brand of Jawwy (see below).

Availability Edit

STC calls their prepaid plan SAWA and is available at any of their stores or any mobile phone shop. (store locator) for SR 31.5 (tax incl.) with SR 25 credit.

A SAWA SIM is valid for 90 days from activation date. Validity can be extended to 90 days for credit and to 360 days for SIM, using any paid services like (making calls, sending SMSs, credit recharging, subscribing to SAWA packages or services). In case of any paid activity for 90 days, the credit will be deducted. In case of any paid activity for 360 days, the service will be cancelled.

Recharge cards are available from SR 10 to SR 300 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 an internatl. credit card.

Data feature packs Edit

Data by default is SR 2 per MB called Easynet. This can be activated by texting 2002 to 900 and deactivated b 2001 to 900.

These packages can be activated on the SAWA prepaid card:

Pack Data WiFi Soc. Med. Voice+SMS Time Price Activation
15 400 MB 400 mins + 400 1 day SR 15 7015
Daily 200 MB 200 mins + 200 1 day SR 10 8111
Like 2 GB 2 GB 4 GB 500 mins 28 days SR 65 7065
Share 5 GB 5 GB 9 GB unlimited 28 days SR 110 7110
Post 8 GB 8 GB unlimited unlimited 28 days SR 160 7160
Star 30 GB 30 GB unlimited unlimited 28 days SR 220 7220

To activate a package, text code to 900. To all prices add 5% taxes. Social media includes YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Voice and SMS allowances are on-net only. All daily packages are once-off, all monthly packs auto-renew. To stop text 7009 to 900, to check balances text 8888 to 900.

Data-only SIM Edit

STC has also released a SIM with data only called QUICKnet.

You can activate these packages on QUICKnet:

Data Time Price Activation
20 GB 1 month SR 110 2721
20 GB 2 months SR 155 2729
50 GB 2 months SR 230 2723
100 GB 3 months SR 350 2727
300 GB 3 months SR 470 2728
unlimited 1 month SR 350 2726

Activation is by texting code to 900. Add 5% taxes. Check balance by *166#.

Jawwy Edit

Jawwy

STC has launched “Jawwy from STC" in 2016 with a new customer care model and completely 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 1 FB and 100 mins for 1 month
  • 70 SR with 10 GB, 500 domestic minutes and unlimited WiFi for 1 month
  • 150 SR with 10 GB, unlimited apps and 1500 domestic minutes valid for 1 month

To all prices add 5% taxes. After downloading Jawwy App and registering using your log-in ID, if there is no chargeable activity for 90 consecutive days, SIM will be disconnected and the service will be canceled

For recharging you can 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. First you need to choose a base plan. You can up- and downsize the data plans anytime by app. To upsize, you will be charged the price difference.

All plans come with 100 all-net mins (more can be added), 3000 on-net mins and a data quota for 30 days:

  • 1 GB: 30 SR
  • 3 GB: 60 SR
  • 5 GB: 75 SR
  • 10 GB: 100 SR
  • 15 GB: 110 SR
  • 20 GB: 120 SR
  • 50 GB: 150 SR

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
20 GB 30 days SR 150 6050 Renew Net20GB
100 GB 30 days SR 100 666 Renew Net100GB

To subscribe, text code to 1100, to unsubscribe, text 'UnSub <Code>' to 1100. You can refill ahead of time by texting 'Renew .....' to 1100. To all prices add 5% taxes.

Furthermore they sell these data vouchers (tax included):

  • SR 50: 2 GB for 1 month
  • SR 80: 5 GB for 1 month
  • SR 140: 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 unlimited data only in routers intended for house use, Mobiliy sells SIM card plans called "eLife Connect" which are on 4G/LTE too. These can be filled by these monthly packages differing in max. speed:

  • max. 25 Mbps: SR 314
  • max. 50 Mbps: SR 419
  • max. 100 Mbps: SR 524
  • max. 200 Mbps: SR 839

Discounts are given for 3, 6 or 12 months.

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. Zain reportedly offers the fastest data speeds partially due to 3CA.

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
2 GB 30 days SAR 45
5 GB 30 days SAR 65
10 GB 90 days SAR 110
50 GB 90 days SAR 199
220 GB 90 days SAR 299
unlimited 30 days SAR 325

Activation is in Zain shop or online self service account. 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
50 GB 500 90 days SAR 199
200 GB 800 90 days SAR 299

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 was the first MVNO in the Kingdom. It started in 2014 on the network of Zain in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for coverage see above). It's 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 activate these packages:

Data Validity Price
30 MB 1 day RS 1.99
100 MB 3 days RS 4.99
300 MB 7 days RS 8.99
750 MB 30 days RS 18.99
1.5 GB 30 days RS 35
3 GB 30 days RS 49.99
5 GB 30 days RS 59.99
8 GB 30 days RS 89.99
10 GB 90 days RS 130

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's directed to the urban youth and operates as a MVNO on the network of STC in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for coverage and frequencies see above).

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 valid for 21 days.

If your SIM is inactive for 60 days you will no longer be able to make outgoing calls or send texts from your phone. They will send you a message to remind you to top up your account to keep talking, texting and browsing. If your account is inactive for 90 days, you will no longer be able to receive calls or texts and your SIM will be deactivated.

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

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
50 MB 1 day 3 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
5 GB 30 days 65 SAR
8 GB 30 days 95 SAR
10 GB 30 days 110 SAR

Activation is by typing *112#. All bundles auto-renew. To stop dial *100*3#.

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
40 MB 7 days SAR 2 *777*030#
100 MB 7 days SAR 5 *777*080#
300 MB 7 days SAR 9 *777*200#
700 MB 30 days SAR 19 *777*700#
1.5 GB 30 days SAR 25 *777*1000#
3 GB 30 days SAR 45 *777*2000#
5 GB 30 days SAR 65 *777*5000#
10 GB 30 days SAR 110 *777*10000#
20 GB 30 days SAR 189 *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