STOCK Saudi / Jeddah / airport
Immigration counters are seen at the arrival hall at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Are you planning to visit Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah? Or do you plan to make a trip to the country to explore its many historical or natural attractions? If so, you might be wondering whether you can get a local SIM card, to be able to make calls and stay connected online.

While one option is to enable roaming services from your current telecommunications service provider, it might be more budget-friendly to buy a local SIM card if you are a heavy phone user.

How to get a SIM card in Saudi Arabia

You can choose to get a SIM card from any of the telecom providers that offer packages specifically for visitors and tourists. This can be done at the airport itself, or later on during your trip, by visiting any of the kiosks or stores of the telecom companies.

For example, if you are going to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah and land at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, you will see kiosks of mobile service providers like STC, Zain and Mobily as soon as you enter the arrival hall. Alternatively, you may also visit a shopping mall near your hotel to visit a kiosk, or find a mobile shop in your neighbourhood that is authorised to sell SIM cards.

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The following Saudi telecommunications service providers offer special SIM card packages for visitors:

1. Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) – Sawa visitor line

The Sawa visitor SIM card is available to visitors, whether they are on vacation, a business trip, Hajj or Umrah. Packages for visitors start from Saudi Riyal 35 (Dh34.26).

To get a SIM card, you simply need to visit any of the STC branches, kiosks and authorised mobile shops in the country. You may also book a number for the visitor line online, by visiting this link:

However, to activate your SIM card, once you land in Saudi Arabia, you will need to visit an STC sales office to provide your fingerprints, according to the STC website.

2. Mobily – Visitors package

Mobily offers ‘Visitors’ package’ to tourists and pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, with packages starting from Saudi Riyal 30 (Dh29.37).

To get a SIM card, you simply need to visit any of the Mobily branches, kiosks and authorised mobile shops in the country.

3. Zain

Zain offers SIM card packages for visitors, starting from Saudi Riyal 34.5 (Dh33.77).

While the companies mentioned above offer SIM card packages especially for tourists, Saudi Arabia also has other telecommunications providers, like Virgin mobile and Lebara, that offer prepaid SIM card options, which you may consider as well.

How to select a plan

While all the companies have starting packages that cost slightly more or less than Dh30, it is advisable to look at the different packages that are being offered. This is because you may be able to get a plan that is more expensive but provides you with a better package, for either flexible calling minutes or internet data package.

Documents required

In order to get a SIM card, you would only need to provide the following:

• Passport copy
Visa number/border number

You will also be asked to provide your fingerprints for biometric registration. Once the process is complete and you have made the payment, according to the plan you choose.