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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 and VoIP calls through Skype remain accessible for now.

On the other side Telegram has faced throttling since 2016, when users reported severe bandwidth limitations preventing file- and image-sharing. The country’s regulator has taken an aggressive stance toward VoIP services that circumvent the country’s regulatory environment and the surveillance apparatus. The use of Viber to make calls has been blocked since June 2013, while WhatsApp calling has been restricted since March 2015. The authorities have also threatened to institute further restrictions on services such as Skype.

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

Dial 2002 to enable their data called "easy net". Data by default is SR2 per MB. These packages can be booked on the SAWA prepaid card and are up to 3G speeds valid for 1 month in the first table:

Src chart-0

To activate a package, text code to 902. These mentioned packages will not auto-renew.

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:

  • for 70 SR: 1 GB, valid for 1 month
  • for 200 SR: 50 GB valid for 2 months
  • for 1000 SR: 250 GB valid for 10 months

These recharge cards can be added to all three starters:

  • 50 SR: 1 GB for 1 month
  • 100 SR: 5 GB for 1 month
  • 200 SR: 25 GB for 2 months each
  • 400 SR: 60 GB for 4 months
  • 1000 SR: 250 GB for 10 months

These flexible renewal packages can be taken from your balance:

  • 1 GB for 1 month: 50 SR, activation: 2701 to 900
  • 6 GB for 1 month: 100 SR, activation: 2702 to 900
  • 30 GB for 2 months: 200 SR, activation: 2703 to 900
  • 70 GB for 4 months: 400 SR, activation: 2704 to 900
  • 300 GB for 10 months: 100 SR, activation: 2705 to 900

Roaming offer Edit

STC has the cheapest roaming option for the UAE right now on both Etisalat and Du networks:

  • unlimited calls and data for 3 days: 200 SR, activation: 6445 to 900
  • unlimited calls and data for 7 days: 400 SR, activation: 6444 to 900

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
  • 50 SR with 3 GB, 50 domestic minutes and 5 SR credit
  • 120 SR with 9 GB, 200 domestic minutes and 10 SR credit

For recharging you can't use STC vouchers, but only special "Jawwy from STC" vouchers.

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 SR30 with SR25 credit without data in their stores: (store-locator).

For recharges, they give free data bonus: 10 SAR - 100 MB, 30 SAR - 300 MB a.s.o. up to 300 SAR - 3 GB, all valid for 3 days only.

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 called Internet Basic (see table below).
Mobily chart

To subscribe, text code to 1100, to unsubscribe, text 'UnSub <Code>' to 1100. You can refill ahead of time by texting 'Renew Connect' to 1100. The Internet Basic bundle is automatically activated for prepaid Mobily subscribers and the default rate.

Data-only SIM Edit

For data only in routers, modems and tablets, Mobiliy sells SIMs called "Connect" which are on 4G/LTE too. They have these starter packs:

  • for 55 SR: 1 month, 2 GB
  • for 90 SR: 1 month, 5 GB
  • for 270 SR, 3 months, 10 GB
  • for 300 SR, 3 months, 20 GB
  • for 575 SR, 6 months, 60 GB

These can be added by these renewal packages:

Mobily2

Roaming offer Edit

Mobily offers the cheap roaming rates to about 50 countries worldwide:

  • 500 MB for 24 hours: SR 50, activation: Trip1
  • 2 GB for 7 days: SR 150, activation: Trip2
  • 5 GB for 7 days: SR 250, activation: Trip3
  • unlimited for 30 days: SR 350, activation: Trip4

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

More info Edit

ZainEdit

Zain-mtc-1-

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:

Validity Data Price Activation
Internet Light Plans:
1 day 50 MB 1 SAR D50
1 week 500 MB 10 SAR D500
Internet Basic Plans:
1 month 1 GB 25 SAR D1000
3 months 10 GB 110 SAR 10GB
Internet Unlimited:
1 month unlimited 500 SAR TUM

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:

Zain1

Delight contains 400 MB and has a 0.06 SAR per MB pay-as-you-go-rate. The starters can be added these reloads, also sold as recharge cards:

  • for 1 month: 2 GB: SAR 45, 5 GB: 69 SAR
  • for 3 months: 10 GB: SAR 119, 50 GB: SAR 199, 200 GB: 299 SAR
  • unlimited: for 3 months: SAR 320, for 6 months: SAR 600, for 12 months: SAR 1100

Roaming offers Edit

Like STC they offer very cheap roaming rates in the UAE for data:

  • 2 days unlimited calls and data: 99 SAR, activation: UAE2 to 959
  • 7 days unlimited calls and data: 299 SAR, activation: UAE7 to 959
  • 30 days unlimited calls and data: 499 SAR, activation: UAE30 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:

  • 30 MB, daily, RS 1.99
  • 100 MB, 3 days, RS 4.99
  • 200 MB, weekly, RS 10
  • 500 MB, 2 weeks, RS 14.99
  • 750 MB, monthly, RS 19.99
  • 1 GB, monthly, RS 29.99
  • 2 GB, monthly, RS 49.99

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 is 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; 20 SAT: 10 SAR for 7 days; 50 SAR: 50 SAR for 14 days and 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:

  • 100 MB , 24 hours, 4 SAR
  • 250 MB, 3 days, 8 SAR
  • 300 MB, 7 days, 10 SAR
  • 500 MB, 30 days, 14 SAR
  • 700 MB, 30 days, 20 SAR
  • 1 GB: 30 days, 24.99 SAR
  • 2 GB, 30 days, 49.99 SAR
  • 3 GB, 30 days, 69.99 SAR
  • 8 GB, 30 days, 209 SAR
  • 10 GB, 30 days, 259 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 Volume Period Price Activation
30 MB 7 days SAR 2 *777*030#
80 MB 7 days SAR 5 *777*080#
160 MB 7 days SAR 9 *777*160#
250 MB 30 days SAR 15 *777*250#
500 MB 30 days SAR 25 *777*500#
1 GB 30 days SAR 35 *777*1024#
2 GB 30 days SAR 50 *777*2048#
5 GB 30 days SAR 110 *777*5120#

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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