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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Review (+5G Speedtests)

In November 2022, Airalo introduced its Menalink eSIM.

Standing for Middle East and North Africa-link, the eSIM can be used in 15 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

At that time, I had travel plans to stay in the Asia Pacific region, so I could not test it as soon as it was released.

On the first anniversary of the introduction of Menalink, I finally managed to try out the eSIM in various countries (and it will be tested in more destinations in 2024).

And at each destination, I was accompanied by friends.

You may recall Jakub from my North America SIM card and eSIM series, who joined me in Egypt.

Adu and Jakub on their way to Istanbul Turkey

And a new face, Majed, accompanied me to the remaining destinations.

Adu and Majed on their way to Jeddah Saudi Arabia while in Doha Qatar

That's enough introductions for my travel friends – let's cover the Menalink basics first.

Airalo Menalink eSIM Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 8th of December 2023. Last updated: 14th of January 2024.


Table of Contents

Which Phones are Compatible with Airalo eSIMs?

Before discussing the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM, you must know whether your phone can support Airalo's eSIMs.

Sure, your phone may support eSIM, but the local mobile operator and travel eSIM provider, like Airalo, must certify a phone before the users can use their products.

As of November 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Airalo eSIMs:

Airalo eSIM Compatible Devices List Infographic (December 2023 Edition) by Phone Travel Wiz

With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Airalo Menalink eSIM!

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How Much Does the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Cost?

You can get the Airalo Menalink eSIM for 1 GB (7 days), 2 GB (15 days) & 3 GB (30 days) for 15 USD, 28 USD & 39 USD, respectively. The eSIM can be used in 15 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates.

While Turkey is considered to be part of the Middle East by many, the Menalink eSIM does not cover the country. You will need the Airalo Eurolink (Europe) eSIM instead, which I have tested in Turkey (the review is being written).

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM with Prices

The prices shown in the screenshot above were during a sale.

It was the first time I had seen Airalo discounting the Menalink eSIM – let alone by 70%.

If the prices were always 4.50 USD, 8.40 USD & 11.70 USD, this eSIM would be highly competitive, and I would be a big fan (it would be even cheaper than most country-specific eSIMs in the region).

But at its standard price range, it is one of Airalo's most expensive eSIMs.

Regardless of the currency used in your country, Airalo will always charge you in USD (US Dollar).

If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.

Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).

I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.

Open a Wise account for FREE!

Wise Currency Exchange Banner
© Wise

Moreover, regardless of which Airalo Menalink eSIM you choose, you can always top it up for the same amount of data and prices as listed above.

For example, suppose you buy the 2 GB Airalo Menalink eSIM (15 days, costing 28 USD) but realize you need more data.

You can top it up with the 1 GB top-up (7 days, costing 15 USD) or the 3 GB top-up (30 days, costing 39 USD).

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM Airalo Data Top-Ups

Many eSIM providers out there do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Airalo allows you to do so.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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In Which Countries Can the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Be Used?

The Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM can be used in 15 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. However, not all countries in either region are covered, with Turkey being the notable exception.

For Turkey, You can use the Turkey eSIM (Merhaba), Eurolink (for 39 “European” countries), or Discover+ (for 130 countries in all continents + call and texting feature. If you plan on visiting Algeria and/or Tunisia + various other African countries, you better get the Hello Africa eSIM, which can be used in 26 African countries. But it is significantly more expensive than the Menalink eSIM.

Below is a complete overview of countries where the Airalo Menalink eSIM works:

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia 1
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates

1 while not officially mentioned or confirmed by Airalo, you get 5G NR access with the Menalink eSIM in Saudi Arabia (at least, I did in December 2023)

With the Airalo Menalink eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit.

So if you plan on visiting two or more countries in the Middle East or Northern Africa, getting the Airalo Menalink eSIM will be convenient AND will save you a lot of money.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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My Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Experiences

I have used and will use the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in most supported countries.

I am not in a hurry to visit Iraq, Israel, Palestine & Sudan for the time being.

Although I was supposed to go to Israel on this trip, something made me reconsider the journey if you get me 🥲.

Either way, achieving the goal of visiting most or all supported Menalink countries will take me a while if I want to get meaningful data to analyze for you.

So stay tuned 😏.

Before continuing, I want to show you how travel eSIM providers like Airalo work.

It is impossible for Airalo, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.

And do not worry about the word roaming yet – roaming can be expensive, but roaming with Airalo or other travel eSIM providers will not result in a 5000 USD roaming bill.

What Airalo does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so their customers can stay connected abroad.

The Airalo Menalink eSIM uses the networks of 15 local mobile operators (mostly Ooredoo, Orange & Zain) with the help of Singtel from Singapore.

Singtel Singapore Logo
© Singtel

This surprised me, as I would think Orange France/Webbing (Solutions) or Annatel/Partner Israel would be better due to geographical proximity (reducing latency).

Anyway, some of the networks the Menalink eSIM uses are good, while the others suck.

Worse, you often have a not-up-to-par performance on their network.

That is because you are roaming on the local networks instead of being a native customer.

But that does not mean you will have (incredibly) slow speeds – just slower than native customers.

I cannot give an average percentage because it depends on the roaming agreement Airalo has made… that is why I have to test the eSIM everywhere!

While I will extensively test the Airalo Menalink eSIM in each city and country I visit, I will not analyze it in-depth in this review.

Not because I do not want to, but this review would be excessively long after analyzing a handful of countries.

So, I will give you a “brief” analysis, which is still elaborate (lol), of the eSIM's performance per country and will link to the in-depth country-specific review, like my Airalo Menalink experience in Egypt (review has yet to be written).

That way, this review loads fast on your end, and you can have a quick overview of which countries the eSIM works well and which ones it does not.

But you can click the links below to jump to the country you are interested in – or read about them all!

  • Bahrain (may visit in 2024)
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan (may visit in 2024)
  • Kuwait (may visit in 2024)
  • Morocco
  • Oman (may visit in 2024)
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates (will visit in 2024)

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Egypt Experiences + Speed Test Results

Flag of Egypt

I used my Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Alexandria (primarily) and Cairo, where I could only access one of the four Egyptian networks (Orange Egypt).

Airalo Menalink eSIM Supported Network in Egypt (Orange)

Taking all 17 speed tests I did in Egypt into account (with the results of four locations missing, leaving 13 in total), I had an average overall download speed of 9.12 Mbps and a median download speed of 4.40 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

Compared to the global median in October 2023 (48.47 Mbps), the Menalink eSIM did poorly.

Speedtest Global Index Median Download and Upload Speed October 2023

When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 4.64 Mbps and a median upload speed of 1.35 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM in Egypt.

And that was… bad. The global median was 11.03 Mbps.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Morocco Experiences + Speed Test Results

Flag of Morocco

I used my Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Casablanca, Marrakesh & Rabat, where I could access only one of the three Moroccan networks (Orange Morocco).

Airalo Menalink eSIM Supported Network in Morocco (Orange)

Taking all 19 speed tests I did in Morocco into account (with the results of two locations missing, leaving 17 in total), I had an average overall download speed of 33.24 Mbps and a median download speed of 18.07 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

Compared to the global median in October 2023 (48.47 Mbps), the Menalink eSIM did well.

Speedtest Global Index Median Download and Upload Speed October 2023

When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 9.29 Mbps and a median upload speed of 6.65 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM in Morocco.

And that was… decent. The global median was 11.03 Mbps.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Qatar Experiences + Speed Test Results

Flag of Qatar

I used my Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Doha, where I could access only one of the two Qatari networks (Ooredoo Qatar).

Airalo Menalink eSIM Supported Network in Qatar (Ooredoo)

Taking all 21 speed tests I did in Qatar into account (with the results of seven locations missing, leaving 14 in total), I had an average overall download speed of 190.65 Mbps and a median download speed of 169.22 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

Compared to the global median in October 2023 (48.47 Mbps), the Menalink eSIM did remarkably well.

Speedtest Global Index Median Download and Upload Speed October 2023

When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 35.34 Mbps and a median upload speed of 38.88 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM in Qatar.

And that was… impressive. The global median was 11.03 Mbps.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Saudi Arabia Experiences + 5G Speed Test Results

Flag of Saudi Arabia

I used my Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Jeddah, where I could access only one of the three Saudi networks (Zain Saudi Arabia).

Airalo Menalink eSIM Supported Network in Saudi Arabia (Zain)

At the time of writing, December 2023, Airalo's site claims you cannot use Zain Saudi Arabia's 5G NR network with the Menalink eSIM, but I could.

Of course, you need a 5G NR-compatible device to use that network.

I installed my Airalo Menalink eSIM on a Pixel 7 Pro, which cannot use 5G NR in any Middle Eastern or Northern African country, as per Google. Yet I had 5G NR access on the phone in Saudi Arabia (which I did not expect). I wonder if I could have used 5G NR in Qatar as well if I had installed it on another phone – a reason to go back and find out? 😏

5G NR Access with Google Pixel Phones
5G NR Access with Google Pixel Phones

Because Saudia (Airlines) pushed my flight from Jeddah to Casablanca (Morocco) much earlier than I initially booked (from noon to early in the morning) and Jeddah had ridiculous traffic during rush hour, I was not able to test the eSIM (or any other SIM card or eSIM) as extensively as I wished 😔.

Taking all seven speed tests I did in Saudi Arabia into account; I had an average overall download speed of 101.85 Mbps and a median download speed of 78.09 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

Compared to the global median in October 2023 (48.47 Mbps), the Menalink eSIM did exceptionally well.

Speedtest Global Index Median Download and Upload Speed October 2023

When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 12.95 Mbps and a median upload speed of 12.42 Mbps with the Airalo Menalink eSIM in Saudi Arabia.

And that was… decent. The global median was 11.03 Mbps.

>>> Get your Airalo Menalink eSIM now! <<<

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