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Airalo Menalink eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review (+5G Speedtests)

Many people visit Saudi Arabia for religious reasons (Hajj and Umrah).

And as of 2019, the Kingdom opened up to tourism (which was surprisingly close to impossible before that time).

Being in the top 15 largest countries worldwide (rank 13), staying connected while exploring the country is crucial.

So, while trying to find the best way to stay in Saudi Arabia, I tried out seven travel eSIMs from various eSIM providers, including Airalo's Menalink (Middle East) eSIM, and three Saudi SIM cards.

Menalink Middle East North Africa (MENA) eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

I spent over 250 USD for my Saudi Arabia SIM card and travel eSIM review series – I went all out 😎.

In most countries, getting a local SIM card is the cheapest way to stay connected (and you will have a local phone number, something you often do not get with a travel eSIM).

But installing an eSIM is quick, easy & convenient, as you do not have to queue up upon landing (after a long flight) or deal with SIM card registration requirements (such as getting your passport details and fingerprints captured in Saudi Arabia – mandated by law).

And travel eSIMs, like Airalo's Menalink, are affordable (especially when you plan to visit multiple Middle Eastern countries).

But what matters is how the eSIM performed in Saudi Arabia (and neighboring countries) – especially compared to the local mobile operators (and the network Menalink uses in the Kingdom).

Let's get started.

Airalo Menalink eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 12th of January 2024. Last updated: 1st of February 2024.


Table of Contents

Airalo's List of Compatible eSIM-Supported Phones

Before I even focus on Airalo's Menalink (Middle East) eSIM, does your phone support Airalo eSIMs?

If you have an eSIM-compatible smartphone, it is almost guaranteed that you can use an Airalo eSIM.

While Airalo had to certify phones in the past, almost all are supported nowadays.

As of December 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

Now we can actually focus on the Menalink eSIM (in Saudi Arabia).


Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Prices

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 Saudi Arabia.

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).

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM with Prices
See the section above for up-to-date prices and allowances. The figures in this image may be outdated.

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%.

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM 50% Off

But at the time of writing, each variant is half off (and has been for weeks, which is impressive).

In fact, I wish the Airalo Middle East eSIM was always priced at these numbers – it would be highly competitive.

Especially with the country-specific eSIMs, like the Airalo Red Sand eSIM for Saudi Arabia (review), being more expensive than eSIMs for more popular destinations (the ones for Asia, Europe & North America).

Airalo Saudi Arabia Red Sand
© Airalo

Let alone buying an eSIM for each individual Middle Eastern country.

Anyway, the links above will bring you to the product page of the Menalink eSIM.

And if you already have the Airalo app installed on your phone, the links will open the respective app (Android or iOS).

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 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

What if you buy the 3 GB Menalink eSIM, as I did, and realize you need another 3 GB of data close to exhausting your data allowance (because 3 GB is nothing)?

Airalo Red Sand Purchase by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Would you need to purchase a new eSIM? Not at all.

You can top up your Airalo Menalink eSIM for the same amount of data and prices as listed earlier.

The 3 GB top-up would still cost 39 USD (or whatever promotional pricing) as if you bought the 3 GB eSIM from the start.

And you can purchase as many top-ups as you wish/need.

Airalo Menalink Middle East Purchases by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz
I was lucky top-ups were 70% off when I was in the Middle East (11.70 USD for 3 GB). Else, they would have been expensive 🫠

That way, you will never run out of data.

A handful of Airalo eSIMs do not allow for top-ups. But that does not apply to the Menalink eSIM – so worry not.

Airalo Menalink Middle East eSIM Top Ups

You can top-up on the Airalo website or its apps.

And if you buy a top-up before you have fully exhausted your data allowance, Airalo will not use your top-up yet.

As a result, the validity of the top-up will not start until you start using the top-up data (which is not the case with all travel eSIMs).

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

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM Country List

The Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM can be used in 15 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, including Saudi Arabia.

Airalo Menalink Middle East eSIM Eligible Countries Map Infographic by Phone Travel Wiz (October 2023 Version)

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 – more about that later)

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 in Saudi Arabia Experience

Flag of Saudi Arabia

During this trip, I used my Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM only in Jeddah.

Although I plan on testing the eSIM in various other Saudi cities in the (near) future.

Travel eSIMs, including the Menalink eSIM, roam on the networks of local mobile operators.

Airalo itself is not a mobile (network) operator (MNO), so it partners with various MNOs, which roam on local MNOs' networks.

Okay, that may sound a bit confusing – all you need to know is that you will be treated as a guest on one of the Saudi mobile networks while using another network to make this system work.

Airalo's Middle East eSIM uses the Zain Saudi Arabia network (review) while being powered by Singtel from Singapore (so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are on Singtel instead of Airalo – that is correct).

Singtel Singapore Logo
© Singtel

So, is Zain Saudi Arabia any good? Kind of.

Zain Logo
© Zain

Regarding 4G/LTE availability in Saudi Arabia, the three mobile operators cover almost all populated areas of the country, with an availability of more than 95.7%.

If we focus on 5G NR availability, Zain Saudi Arabia is behind (19.9%) but not by much (20.8% for Mobily (review) and 22% for STC Saudi Arabia (review)).

If we look at speeds, Zain Saudi Arabia is supposed to be the slowest in all categories (4G/5G download/upload speed).

Do not worry yet; these figures are worse than Zain's actual performance (in Jeddah) due to Opensignal not having as many data points as Speedtest typically has (but it has not made a recent report for the Kingdom at the time of writing).

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app throughout Jeddah.

Speedtest Logo
© Ookla

For reference, I consider an average download speed of 25 Mbps and an average upload speed of 10 Mbps fast enough.

Why is that? A more than 25 Mbps download speed is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.

Social media sites that do live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.

I have way higher standards, but not everyone demands a download speed of 500 Mbps 🤪.

In the section below, you will find various colors and formatting.

Results in dark green mean that the result was the fastest download or upload among all SIM cards and travel eSIMs I tested at that location.

Fastest Result (Dark Green) Among All Example for Speed Test Results

Whereas results in light green were the fastest download or upload within the category (among all SIM cards OR all travel eSIMs) but not the fastest when considering the other category.

Fastest Result (Light Green) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

The same applies to dark red and light orange results – the slowest download or upload among all (dark red) or the slowest within a category (light orange).

Slowest Fastest Result (Dark Red) Among All Example for Speed Test Results
Slowest Result (Light Orange) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

All underlined results are on 5G NR, while results in italics are on 3G – results without additional formatting are on 4G/LTE.

Underlined (5G) Result Example for Speed Test Results
Italics (3G) Result Example for Speed Test Results

That should clear up the colorful speed test results in the next section.

For now, let's see how the Airalo Menalink eSIM performed in Jeddah.

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

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Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Jeddah Speed Test Results

Jeddah City Council Logo
© Jeddah City Council

I tried to test the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM as much as I could.

But as I mentioned before, getting into the city from the airport took thrice as long and the next day's flight was moved forward by hours, leaving me with little time to explore Jeddah (which in turn meant fewer test locations).

Worry not; I will revisit Jeddah/Saudi Arabia for sure and get more results for you in the (near) future.

The majority of travel eSIMs I tested used the Zain Saudi Arabia network (including the Menalink eSIM).

So I will compare the Menalink results with Zain Saudi Arabia and all the other travel eSIMs using the same network.

This includes Airalo (Red Sand), Airalo Discover (global – can also use Mobily), Alosim (can also use Mobily), Holafly (can also use Mobily), Nomad Saudi Arabia (can also use Mobily) & Nomad Middle East (can also use STC Saudi Arabia).

Below are the results:

Airalo Menalink eSIM Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia vs Zain Saudi Arabia, Airalo, Airalo Discover Global, Alosim, Holafly, Nomad and Nomad Middle East

Fast speeds with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

Even with my limited results, the Airalo Middle East eSIM was often faster than other travel eSIMs using the Zain Saudi Arabia network.

In fact, it was even faster than Zain Saudi Arabia itself at four of the five locations.

These were at Albaik (Nahdat at Talif branch), the arrivals hall at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED), Novotel Jeddah Tahlia & Prince Majid Park – 144 Mbps (5G), 43.54 Mbps (4G), 310.13 Mbps (5G) & 78.09 Mbps (4G), respectively.

Airalo Middle East in Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Albaik Nahdat at Talif (144 Mbps)
Airalo Menalink @ Albaik Nahdat at Talif
Airalo Middle East in Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Novotel Jeddah Tahlia (310.13 Mbps)
Airalo Menalink @ Novotel Jeddah Tahlia
Airalo Middle East in Saudi Arabia Speed Test at King Abdulaziz International Airport Arrivals Hall (43.54 Mbps)
Airalo Menalink @ King Abdulaziz International Airport Arrivals Hall
Airalo Middle East in Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Prince Majid Park (78.09 Mbps)
Airalo Menalink @ Prince Majid Park

Compared to Zain Saudi Arabia's 131.18 Mbps (5G), 18.95 Mbps (4G), 268.88 Mbps (5G) & 63.55 Mbps (4G).

Zain Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Albaik Nahdat at Talif (131.18 Mbps)
Zain Saudi Arabia @ Albaik Nahdat at Talif
Zain Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Novotel Jeddah Tahlia (268.88 Mbps)
Zain Saudi Arabia @ Novotel Jeddah Tahlia
Zain Saudi Arabia Speed Test at King Abdulaziz International Airport Arrivals Hall (18.95 Mbps)
Zain Saudi Arabia @ King Abdulaziz International Airport Arrivals Hall
Zain Saudi Arabia Speed Test at Prince Majid Park (63.55 Mbps)
Zain Saudi Arabia @ Prince Majid Park

This can happen – perhaps the cellular tower was busier when I did the test with my Zain SIM card.

But based on the results I got with Zain Saudi Arabia, it does not throttle the speed (of prepaid customers – some mobile operators do so).

Let's look at other Airalo eSIMs that can be used in the Kingdom: Airalo Red Sand (Saudi Arabia-only eSIM (review)) and Airalo Discover (global eSIM to be used in 125+ countries (KSA review)).

Airalo Red Sand eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Airalo Discover eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

The Red Sand eSIM is powered by Edge Mobile LLC/AT&T from the United States (same for the Alosim Saudi Arabia eSIM), whereas eSIM Go/Drei Austria powers Discover(+).

The results between the Menalink and Red Sand and eSIMs were similar (average download speed of 101.85 Mbps and 122.49 Mbps, respectively).

Airalo Middle East Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia
Airalo Red Sand Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

However, 5G NR access was slightly better with the Airalo Saudi Arabia eSIM.

For some reason, the Discover+ eSIM was barely on 5G NR (even though it can, such as the results at immigration and baggage claim at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport – 67.30 Mbps download and 3.80 Mbps upload).

Airalo Discover Saudi Arabia Speed Test at King Abdulaziz International Airport Immigration & Baggage Claim (67.30 Mbps)
Airalo Discover+ @ King Abdulaziz International Airport Immigration & Baggage Claim

The results of the Airalo Menalink eSIM were slightly worse than those of Airalo Red Sand and Alosim Saudi Arabia (review).

Alosim eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Primarily due to it being powered by a Singaporean mobile operator (Singtel) – it is adding at least another 2000 kilometers in terms of latency (when looking at Vienna to Jeddah and Singapore to Jeddah distances).

Even then, the Airalo Middle East eSIM did well, with an average download speed of 101.85 Mbps.

Airalo Middle East Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

Compared to Red Sand's 122.49 Mbps and Alosim Saudi Arabia's 127.45 Mbps.

Airalo Red Sand Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia
Alosim Saudi Arabia Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

The eSIMs of Holafly (review) and Nomad (Saudi Arabia (review) and Middle East (KSA review)) are powered by Drei Austria (although Nomad goes through eSIM Go instead).

Holafly eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Nomad eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Nomad Middle East eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

While their results are nothing to scoff at (80.21 Mbps, 62.65 Mbps & 90.63 Mbps, respectively), they were worse than Red Sand's.

Holafly Saudi Arabia Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia
Nomad Saudi Arabia Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia
Nomad Middle East Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

Overall, the speeds I got with Airalo's Middle East eSIM were satisfactory.

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

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My Overall Experience with the Airalo Menalink (Middle East) eSIM in Saudi Arabia – Is It Worth Your Money?

I would recommend the Airalo Menalink eSIM, and it would be one of my top recommendations for anyone wanting to buy a Middle Eastern travel eSIM (but not if you only visit Saudi Arabia).

Phone Travel Wiz Approved Seal

Getting the Airalo Menalink eSIM or any other Airalo eSIM is extremely easy.

Menalink Middle East North Africa (MENA) eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Airalo is one of the few eSIM providers that allow you to install an eSIM directly to your phone (without the need to scan a QR code), which makes the installation process a piece of cake (hence, I did not spend any time on how to install in this review – it is easy!).

Moreover, you do not have to adjust the APN settings with the Airalo Menalink eSIM, making it more manageable.

But… the Middle East eSIM is not affordable.

When I was in the Middle East (November 2023), the eSIM was discounted by 70%, making it very affordable.

For example, the 3 GB eSIM was only 11.70 USD instead of 39 USD.

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM with Prices

With these prices, it was even cheaper to get the Menalink eSIM instead of the Airalo Red Sand (Saudi Arabia) eSIMs (review), costing 5 USD for 1 GB (+0.50 USD), 8.50 USD for 2 GB (+0.10 USD) & 11 USD for 3 GB (-0.70 USD), while being able to use the eSIM in 15 countries.

But after Black Friday, the discounted price went from 70% to 50% (which is still accurate at the time of writing in January 2024).

Airalo Middle East & North Africa Menalink eSIM 50% Off

Using the same 3 GB example, it costs 19.50 USD (instead of 11.70 USD in November).

That is a price increase of 8 USD, which is not minor. But it is better than paying the original 39 USD.

Personally, I would love it if these promotional prices were permanent so that Airalo could compete with Nomad's Middle East eSIM (review).

Nomad Middle East eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Which sells its 1 GB eSIM for 9 USD (15 USD for Menalink) and 3 GB for 16 USD.

Moreover, more generous data allowances are available: 5 GB for 22 USD and 10 GB for 34 USD – cheaper than the highest data allowance Airalo offers (3 GB).

Nomad Middle East eSIM with Prices

That is enough about pricing – how did the Airalo Menalink eSIM perform in Saudi Arabia?

The Menalink eSIM uses the Zain Saudi Arabia network (review), which has extensive 4G/LTE availability throughout the country.

Zain Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

And its 5G NR coverage is good in urban areas – and yes, you get 5G NR access with the Airalo Menalink eSIM.

The eSIM was fast, with an average download speed of 101.85 Mbps.

Airalo Middle East Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

This was slightly slower than the Airalo Red Sand eSIM and Alosim Saudi Arabia eSIM (review), with average download speeds of over 120 Mbps.

Alosim eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

When looking at upload speeds, Menalink also performed well at 12.95 Mbps.

All the other travel eSIMs on the Zain KSA network, except for Airalo Discover+ (review), had an average upload speed of more than 12 Mbps, which is fast enough for HD live streaming.

When/if Airalo reverts its prices for the Menalink eSIM, it becomes an expensive one again

Unfortunately, few eSIM providers have regional eSIMs for the Middle East, so the choice is limited.

As mentioned, the Nomad Middle East eSIM will be significantly cheaper than the Menalink eSIM.

But you can also consider the Airalo Discover (global) eSIM (KSA review), which can be used in 125+ countries, including most in the Middle East, but you can also get a phone number for global use (in/to any country).

Airalo Discover eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz

You can call phone numbers the eSIM cannot use data in (like Russia).

Compared to Menalink's original prices, 1 GB is available for 9 USD (15 USD for Menalink), 2 GB for 17 USD (28 USD) & 3 GB for 24 USD (39 USD).

The eSIMs with the calling and texting feature are slightly cheaper (0 USD, 1 USD & 3 USD, respectively) yet offer much more than Menalink.

In Saudi Arabia, the Discover eSIM had the worst performance of all the eSIMs I tested… which was interesting.

With an average download speed of 41.59, it was way slower than all the others.

Airalo Discover Global Overall Speed Test Results in Saudi Arabia

At least that eSIM can be used in 125 countries 🤷🏿‍♂️.

Anyway, the eSIM uses a near-perfect 4G/LTE network but has relatively expensive plans (when not discounted). But you do get super-fast download speeds. Therefore, you should have a smooth browsing experience with the Airalo Menalink eSIM in Saudi Arabia.

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

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Saudi Arabia eSIM & SIM Card Reviews

Besides Airalo's Menalink (Middle East) eSIM, I also tried other Airalo eSIMs and other travel eSIMs in the Kingdom.

I encourage you to read those reviews to decide which eSIM suits your needs.

>>> Airalo Red Sand (formerly Salaam) eSIM | Airalo Discover (global) eSIM in Saudi Arabia | Alosim Saudi Arabia eSIM | Holafly Saudi Arabia eSIM | Nomad Saudi Arabia eSIM | Nomad Middle East eSIM in Saudi Arabia <<<

Airalo Red Sand eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Holafly eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Alosim eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Nomad eSIM in Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
  • Check out my eSIM reviews page if you want to read all the other eSIM reviews I have written, including those I tested in other Middle Eastern countries.
eSIM Reviews by Phone Travel Wiz

Besides travel eSIMs, I also tried Saudi SIM cards.

You can find those below.

>>> STC Saudi Arabia | Mobily | Zain Saudi Arabia <<<

STC Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Mobily Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Zain Saudi Arabia Review by Phone Travel Wiz