These are three mobile GSM providers Saudi Arabia:
- STC (Jawwy)
Since 2014 different MVNOs started in Saudia Arabia too. The most accessible to foreigners are Virgin Mobile, Friendi and Lebara mobile.
- 1 Frequencies
- 2 Coverage and speeds
- 3 Regulations
- 4 Censorship
- 5 VoIP ban lifted
- 6 STC (Jawwy)
- 7 Jawwy
- 8 Mobily
- 9 Zain
- 10 Friendi mobile
- 11 Virgin mobile
- 12 Lebara mobile
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+. Some providers have announced to shut down 3G in 2020.
- 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.
- 5G has been started in 2019 in some cities in the Kingdom
Coverage and speeds
Coverage is quite good in populated areas and along highways, but can be down to non-existent in remote places.
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.
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 messaging through Twitter or WhatsApp are not restricted.
VoIP ban lifted
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 authorities.
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).
They have announced to shut off 3G services permanently in 2020. STC channels now its prepaid products mostly to the new brand of Jawwy (see below). As of 2019 5G is available in some places of Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Damman. At the end of 2019 they changed logos.
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 a credit card.
Data feature packs
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:
|15||400 MB||400 mins||1 day||SR 15||7015|
|Daily||200 MB||200 mins||1 day||SR 10||8111|
|Like||2 GB||2 GB||5 GB||500 mins||28 days||SR 65||7065|
|Flex||8 GB||200 mins||28 days||SR 90||7090|
|Share||5 GB||5 GB||10 GB||unlimited||28 days||SR 110||7110|
|Post||10 GB||10 GB||unlimited||unlimited||28 days||SR 160||7160|
|Star||100 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. For more data you can add the Data Keys bundles below as well by the relevant code.
STC has also released a SIM with data only once called QUICKnet, now also Data Keys. It's open to 5G as well and can be used with similar packages for SAWA plans as well..
You can activate these packages:
|1 GB||1 week||SR 15||2151|
|1 GB||1 month||SR 30||2152|
|2 GB||1 month||SR 50||2153|
|5 GB||1 month||SR 80||2154|
|10 GB||1 month||SR 110||2155|
|10 GB||2 months||SR 155||2155|
|10 GB||3 months||SR 180||2157|
|50 GB||2 months||SR 230||2158|
|100 GB||3 months||SR 350||2159|
|300 GB||3 months||SR 470||2160|
|unlimited||1 day||SR 20||2120|
|unlimited||1 week||SR 100||2162|
|unlimited||1 month||SR 350||2161|
Activation is by texting code to 900. Add 5% taxes. Check balance by *166#.
- APN: jawalnet.com.sa
- *Website of STC in English: http://www.stc.com.sa/wps/wcm/connect/english/individual/individual
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.
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.
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 GB 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.
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
- APN: jawalnet.com.sa
- Website of Jawwy in English: https://www.jawwy.sa/en
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.
They have various 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. A 5% tax is deducted at recharge.
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
Default data is SR 0.15 per MB. These packages valid for 28 days can be activated on the prepaid card:
|30||1 GB||1 GB||100 mins||SR 30||30||030|
|75||5 GB||5 GB||500 mins||SR 75||75||075|
|150||15 GB||unlimited||2250 mins||SR 150||150||0150|
|220||100 GB||unlimited||unlimited||SR 220||220||0220|
To activate a package, text code to 1100. Social media includes YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Voice and SMS allowances are on-net only. All all packs auto-renew. To stop text code to 1100, to check balances text 4 to 1411. For more data you can add a data bundle:
|150 MB||14 days||SR 5||750||0750|
|500 MB||30 days||SR 20||6090||6092|
|1 GB||30 days||SR 30||6100||6102|
|2 GB||30 days||SR 50||7200||7202|
|5 GB||30 days||SR 75||7300||7302|
|15 GB||30 days||SR 95||7050||7052|
|20 GB||30 days||SR 135||6300||6302|
|30 GB||90 days||SR 165||6070||6072|
|40 GB||90 days||SR 220||8200||8202|
|50 GB||60 days||SR 210||7090||7902|
|100 GB||30 days||SR 160||7080||7802|
|150 GB||90 days||SR 320||8080||8080|
|300 GB||90 days||SR 450||300|
|600 GB||6 months||SR 900||606|
To subscribe, text code to 1100, to renew, text the same code, to unsubscribe, text deactivation code to 1100.
You can recharge by sending an SMS to 1100 include the following: <CustomerID><VoucherNumber>. Check data balance by *1411#
For unlimited data only in routers intended for house use, Mobiliy sells SIM card plans called "eLife Connect". These can be filled by these packages:
- 30 GB for 3 months: SR 175, activation: 6070
- 40 GB for 3 months: SR 230, activation: 8200
- 50 GB for 2 months: SR 220, activation: 7090
- 150 GB for 3 months: SR 335, activation: 8080
- 300 GB for 3 months: SR 450, activation: 30
To activate or re-subscribe text code to 1100.
Mobily offers cheap roaming rates to about 80 countries worldwide:
- 500 MB for 24 hours: SR 49, activation: Trip0
- 2 GB for 3 days: SR 99, activation: Trip1
- 7 GB for 7 days: SR 199, activation: Trip2
- unlimited for 30 days: SR 349, activation: Trip4
- 30 GB for 60 days: SR 599, activation: Trip5
For activation, text subcription code to 1100 or enter *1100# and choose package.
- APN for prepaid: web2
- Website in English: http://www.mobily.com.sa
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.
In 2019 5G has started in some city centers and is available for prepaid with a capable device (5G coverage map).
Their prepaid plans are available at their stores: locator. They don't come with data. The only exception is the Shabab Prepaid starter that involves a combo plan (see below).
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
Default data is 0.15 SR per MB.
For the Shabab Plan these options are available valid for 28 days
|59||4 GB||5 GB||500 mins||SR 59||S59||CS59|
|140||10 GB||unlimited||1500 mins||SR 140||S140||CS140|
|199||100 GB||unlimited||unlimited||SR 199||S199||CS199|
To activate a package, text code to 959. Social media includes YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Voice allowances are to all nets. All all packs auto-renew. To stop text code to 959, to check balances text 'BC' to 959.
For more data and all other prepaid plans too, you can add a data bundle:
|50 MB||1 day||SR 1.50||D50||CD50|
|200 MB||7 days||SR 5||D200M||CD200M|
|500 MB||7 days||SR 12||D500||CD500|
|2 GB||30 days||SR 29||D2G||CD2G|
|5 GB||30 days||SR 50||D5G||CD5G|
|15 GB||30 days||SR 95||10GBM||C10GBM|
|10 GB||90 days||SR 165||10GB||C10GB|
|40 GB||60 days||SR 220||20GB||C20GB|
|75 GB||90 days||SR 265||50GB||C50GB|
|150 GB||90 days||SR 320||100GB||C100GB|
|300 GB||90 days||SR 430||300GB||C300GB|
Activation is in Zain shop or by your online self service account by the relevant code to 959. All packages auto-renew. To stop send deactivation code to 959. To check data balance, text 'BC' to 959.
For data only, Zain has released a data-only SIM with very similar packs as mentioned above.
As Saudi-Arabia is slowly opening up to tourism, Zain has introduced the first Visitor Packages. Two different starter packs are available:
- Visitor 55: 2 GB, unlimited mins on-net, 30 mins to other domestic netwoks, SR 20 international credit for 28 days: SR 55.
- Visitor 99: 4 GB, unlimited mins on-net, 60 mins to other domestic netwoks, SR 50 international credit for 28 days: SR 99.
You can extend or renew this pack by texting code V55 or V99 to 959 or add any local data package shown above.
They offer very cheap roaming rates in the GCC countries Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and Oman
- 3 days of unlimited data: 179 SR, activation: GCC3 to 959
- 7 days of unlimited data: 349 SR, activation: GCC7 to 959
- 15 days of unlimited data: 599 SR, activation: GCC15 to 959
Furthermore, they offer data roaming bundles to about 80 countries worldwide (list):
- 2 GB for 3 days: 99 SR, activation: RD2 to 959
- 7 GB for 7 days: 199 SR, activation: RD7 to 959
- 10 GB for 30 days: 299 SR, activation: RD10 to 959
To check bundle balance, text RBC to 959.
Similar to Jawwy by SBS Zain has also launched an app-based plan which can be customized and is fully managed by their Yaqoot app. But this plan is only available online and needs to be delivered by courier to a local address. This is why it's not mentioned any further.
- Website of Yaqoot: https://yaqoot.sa/en
- APN: zain
- Website in English: https://www.sa.zain.com
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.
Their 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 dialing *113#..
Data feature packages
On the standard voice & data SIM default rate is SR 0.15 per MB. You can activate these packages:
|30 MB||1 day||SR 1.99|
|100 MB||3 days||SR 4.99|
|300 MB||7 days||SR 8.99|
|750 MB||30 days||SR 18.99|
|1.5 GB||30 days||SR 28.50|
|3 GB||30 days||SR 45|
|5 GB||30 days||SR 60|
|8 GB||30 days||SR 90|
|15 GB||30 days||SR 95|
|10 GB||90 days||SR 110|
|30 GB||90 days||SR 189|
|75 GB||90 days||SR 260|
|150 GB||90 days||SR 320|
Activation, data check and stop of auto-renew is by typing *108# <call>
On the data-only SIM card, these monthly packages can be added:
- 2 GB: SR 50
- 3 GB: SR 70
- 5 GB: SR 110
Activation, data check and stop of auto-renew is by typing *109# <call>
- APN: internet
- Website in English: http://www.friendimobile.com
In 2014 Virgin Mobile started its own brand in Saudi Arabia. It operates as a MVNO the STC network providing 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. (for coverage and frequencies see above).
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. Check balance by *102#.
Data feature packages
Data rate is SR 0.55 per MB going down to SR 0.10 per MB after you have used more than SR 30 You can add these packages for 30 days:
|300 MB||50 mins||SR 15|
|1 GB||100 mins||SR 30|
|2 GB||100 mins||200||SR 45|
|10 GB||500 mins||1000||SR 70|
|40 GB||500 mins||1000||SR 165|
Activation of combo packs is by *108#. And they offer these data packages:
|50 MB||1 day||SR 3|
|500 MB||30 days||SR 15|
|700 MB||30 days||SR 21|
|1 GB||30 days||SR 24|
|2 GB||30 days||SR 45|
|4 GB||30 days||SR 75|
|8 GB||30 days||SR 90|
|10 GB||30 days||SR 100|
|20 GB||30 days||SR 120|
|40 GB||30 days||SR 140|
|80 GB||30 days||SR 170|
|100 GB||30 days||SR 180|
Activation is by typing *110#. All bundles auto-renew. To stop dial *100*3#.
- APN: internet
- Website in English: http://virginmobile.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, 3G and now on 4G/LTE (see coverage above) and targets mainly migrant workers.
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 SR 10 you'll get 50 MB, SR 20 - 200 MB, SR 50 - 500 MB and SR 100 - 1 GB free bonus data.
Data feature packages
Default data rate is 0.15 SAR per MB. You can add these monthly packages called Mobile Net Savers:
|100 MB||7 days||SR 5||*777*080#|
|300 MB||7 days||SR 9||*777*200#|
|700 MB||30 days||SR 19||*777*700#|
|1.5 GB||30 days||SR 25||*777*1000#|
|3 GB||30 days||SR 45||*777*2000#|
|7 GB||30 days||SR 65||*777*5000#|
|10 GB||30 days||SR 110||*777*10000#|
|20 GB||30 days||SR 189||*777*20000#|
|50 GB||30 days||SR 260||*777*50000#|
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.
Lebara also offers a data-only SIM without voice or text in these 4 options:
- 1 GB for 30 days: SR 25
- 2 GB for 30 days: SR 40
- 3 GB for 45 days: SR 50
- 10 GB for 120 days: SR 125
- APN: Lebara
- Website in English: https://www.lebara.sa