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Jeddah-King Abdulaziz Airport (JED) SIM Card Buying Guide

Jeddah – known for its landmarks, museums & historical attractions.

It is also the gateway to Mecca because Mecca has no (international) airport, and Jeddah is less than two hours away from the city.

As a result, Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport is the fourth-busiest airport in the Middle East (behind Dubai, Istanbul (IST – not SAW) & Doha).

It also has the fourth-largest terminal (Terminal 1) in the world (behind Dubai's Terminal 1, Istanbul (Main Terminal) & Beijing Capital (Terminal 3)).

Writing a list of all the cool things to do in Jeddah would require another blog post (or a dedicated Jeddah blog), so I will save you from that because you want to know what SIM card options are available at the airport.

Anyway, which SIM cards are available at the airport?

You can get an STC KSA, Mobily, or Zain KSA SIM card for between 63.25 SAR (17 USD) and 410 SAR (109.30 USD) at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED).

Worry not; you will not pay more than 250 SAR (53.30 USD) for most SIM cards.

The 410 SAR plan (Zain KSA) includes unlimited data and minutes, whereas its second-most expensive plan (230 SAR) is already generous with 100 GB of data and 1200 local minutes.

Anyway, let's review all your options and see if getting a SIM card at Jeddah Airport is even worth it.

Buying a SIM Card at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport

Original publication: 10th of December 2023. Last updated: 18th of January 2024.


Table of Contents

Mobile Operators in Saudi Arabia

Before I tell you about the SIM card and eSIM options you have at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED), you first need to know about all the mobile operators in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has three mobile operators and three Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) offering prepaid services easily accessible to travelers:

  • STC KSA
  • Mobily
  • Zain KSA
  • Jawwy (STC KSA sub-brand)
  • Lebara Mobile KSA (Mobily MVNO)
  • Virgin Mobile KSA (STC KSA MVNO)
    Cellular Connectivity Illustration by Phone Travel Wiz

Only STC KSA, Mobily & Zain KSA SIM cards are sold at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport.

My Saudi Arabia SIM card buying guide discusses the options for Lebara KSA and Virgin Mobile KSA if you want their SIM cards and are willing to get them outside of Jeddah Airport. This Jawwy guide focuses on Jawwy specifically.

Buying a SIM Card in Saudi Arabia Guide (logos of STC, Mobily, Zain, Jawwy, Lebara & Virgin Mobile)

These mobile operators only sell their tourist SIM cards at the airport (at slightly higher prices than at their regular stores).

Those visiting the Kingdom for Umrah can only purchase tourist SIM cards – Umrah plans are only sold at regular stores.

During Hajj, Hajj-special plans are available too.

However, I did not visit Saudi Arabia during the Hajj. When Hajj is back (June 2024), I will link to a guide mentioning all exclusive Hajj plans for you 😜.

Alright, back to what Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport offers us.


Where to Buy a SIM Card at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport

STC KSA, Mobily & Zain KSA SIM cards are sold in the arrivals halls of Terminal 1, North Terminal & Hajj Terminal at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED).

Most international flights, including most by FlyNas, FlyaDeal & Saudia, use Terminal 1.

The North Terminal is rather unpleasant and is used by airlines like Air Arabia (Egypt), Air Cairo, Air India, EgyptAir, Jazeera Airways, Lion Air, Pegasus, Salam Air, SpiceJet, Tarco Air, Uzbekistan Airways & Vistara (but also Saudia, such as its Addis Ababa flights).

The Hajj Terminal is, as to be expected, used around Hajj.

However, some non-Hajj flights use this terminal (such as all Air Algerie, Biman Bangladesh Airlines & Pakistan Airlines flights + Saudia's flights to and from Jakarta).

Note: there are no transfers between the three terminals. You would need to take a taxi to do so. The stalls may not be open if you arrive at night or early in the morning. You would have to purchase a SIM card in Jeddah proper then.

I flew with Saudia from Doha-Hamad International Airport to Jeddah Airport and arrived at Terminal 1.

Buying a SIM Card at Doha-Hamad International Airport Guide

As mentioned in the previous note, transferring between terminals is not easy, and a taxi is required – the drive can take up to 15 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

As a result, this guide will focus on the locations and offers of Terminal 1 because I did not visit the North Terminal or the Hajj Terminal on this trip (maybe in the future).

After luggage claim and customs, there is only one way to enter and leave the arrivals hall (on the left when exiting the secure area doors).

Once you go up the ramp, you will see the stores of Zain KSA, Mobily & STC KSA (from left to right).

Zain Saudi Arabia Store at Jeddah Abzulaziz International Airport Terminal 1
Mobily Saudi Arabia Store at Jeddah Abzulaziz International Airport Terminal 1
STC Saudi Arabia Store at Jeddah Abzulaziz International Airport Terminal 1

As a heads up, many confused travelers will be walking around the airport – some who have never flown before (and are in the Kingdom for Umrah).

As a result, expect some queue-cutting (but even when it happens, it is more of the oblivious kind instead of the malicious/rude kind).

Stand firm – or approach the side of the counter where a salesperson is doing nothing (usually, one or two staff members are working while the other two are chatting/playing on their phones – really!).

That way, you do not join a queue for the sake of being in a queue.

Half of the people standing in front of a booth are there… for no reason (as in, they do not intend to buy a SIM card 🗿).

Finally, note that while SIM cards sold at Jeddah Airport are not overpriced (you will be charged the official prices, unlike at most airports), the cheapest plans are not sold here.

For example, the cheapest tourist SIM card available is by Mobily – its Visitor 30 SIM card (costing 20 SAR – or 23 SAR if we include taxes (15%)).

Mobily Saudi Arabia Visitor 30 SIM Card

Yet the cheapest plan sold by Mobily at Jeddah Airport costs 115 SAR (VAT inclusive).

So, if you want the truly cheapest options, you will have to buy a SIM card in Jeddah proper.

For now, let's review each mobile operator to see what they offer us at the airport.


What SIM Cards & Plans Does STC KSA Sell at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (+Prices)?

STC Logo
© STC

STC KSA SIM cards are available in the arrivals halls of Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED), costing 55 SAR, 70 SAR, or 110 SAR.

STC KSA, just STC, is the largest mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.

STC stands for Saudi Telecom Company (but the company is also active in Bahrain and Kuwait).

The mobile operator is regarded as the best in the Kingdom.

After luggage claim and customs, there is only one path to the arrivals hall.

At the end of the ramp, towards the train station, you will find the stalls of the mobile operators next to each other.

The STC stall is on the right and cannot be missed.

STC Saudi Arabia Selling SIM Cards at Jeddah King King Abdulaziz International Airport Arrivals Hall

Unlike Mobily and Zain KSA, STC does not have a paper with all the plans it sells.

In fact, the salespeople cannot be bothered to tell you what they have.

Instead, they are shown on a screen that switches languages every few seconds.

STC Saudi Arabia Tourist SIM Cards (Visitor Flex) at Jeddah King King Abdulaziz International Airport

STC sells three Sawa Visitor plans at Jeddah Airport: Sawa Visitor 55, Sawa Visitor 70 & Sawa Visitor 100.

To many people's surprise, these are not the prices you will be charged, as they are exclusive of VAT.

From January 2018 to July 2020, the VAT rate in the Kingdom was 5% (previously, VAT did not exist).

From July 2020, the VAT rate increased from 5% to 15%.

And in all these years, STC has not bothered to show its prices inclusive of taxes at its airports (but also its regular stores) 🙄.

So here is how much you will be charged for each Sawa Visitor Plan at Jeddah Airport:

PricePlanData 1Minutes 2Validity
63.25 SARSawa Visitor Flex 5515 GB120 minutes14 days
80.50 SARSawa Visitor Flex 7020 GB180 minutes21 days
115 SARSawa Visitor Flex 10040 GB300 minutes28 days

1 5G NR access
2 local and international minutes. International minutes can be used for calls to Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates & Yemen

STC Saudi Arabia Sawa Visitor Flex Tourist SIM Cards sold at Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport

I bought the Sawa Visitor Flex 55 SIM card because I had less than 24 hours in Jeddah.

Initially, I was supposed to be in Riyadh for two days. Because I wanted to visit my friend, Majed, in Qatar instead, I chose Jeddah as a long layover (24 hours). Saudia thought our afternoon flight to Casablanca (Morocco) was scheduled at a sensible time and pushed it to the early morning. To make things worse, the drive from the airport to the hotel took 1:30 hours instead of 30 minutes due to rush hour and multiple accidents – even less time in the Kingdom 🥲. Oh yeah, people drive like maniacs in KSA!

I paid 63.25 SAR for it by card (and you can pay by cash if you want, but only in Saudi Riyal (SAR)).

Before I got my SIM card, I had to hand over my passport and show my visa number (I had an eVisa, so I had to show the PDF document to the salesperson).

Because I flew with Saudia and had an onward flight with it too (within 96 hours/4 days), I was eligible for a reduced stopover visa (94 SAR/25 USD) instead of the regular tourist (e)Visa (535 SAR/142 USD – multiple entries for up to 90 days each stay within a year).

If you fly with Flynas or Saudia (like I did) with Saudi Arabia as a stopover and not as a final destination (so from country A flying to Saudi Arabia for less than 96 to country B with the same airline (Flynas or Saudi), you can get the Stopover Visa for free. But fees may apply. I had to pay 94 SAR because I booked my flights before the 90-day timeframe. Although others claim these “free” visas have not been free for a while.

If a visa label has been attached to your passport, you only have to show that one.

Biometrics, your fingerprint(s), are also captured as part of Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration laws.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

STC captures your right index finger and right little finger (pinky).

Once all is settled, the SIM card is handed to you… and you have to figure things out yourself.

You do not have to ring several USSD codes or change (APN) settings for the SIM card to work.

But almost all mobile operators selling SIM cards at airports, and even regular stores, I have been to at least want to confirm your SIM card work.

Not STC… and neither did Mobily and Zain 🗿.

Anyway, once you have inserted your SIM card into your phone, you will get a text message from STC (900).

The first one I received was about successfully enrolling in marketing text messages.

No thanks – I do not need those. Especially when they are in Arabic.

So, I texted “3311” back to the same number (900) to unsubscribe.

STC Saudi Arabia Promotional text Unsubscribe Code

And that was it – that is how I got my STC SIM card at Jeddah Airport.

One thing the STC store at the airport cannot do for you is give you STC eSIMs (even though they are available to prepaid customers).

You can only get an eSIM if you get one of STC's regular prepaid plans, which are not sold at Jeddah Airport.

Fortunately, travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia are available for reasonable prices.

Even unlimited data options are available.

Another perk with them is that you do not have to deal with Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

I write about the best travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia in my Best Saudi Arabia eSIM buying guide.

Buying an eSIM for Saudi Arabia Guide (logos of Holafly, Nomad, Menalink, Discover+, Red Sand, Alosim & Airalo)

I even tried many of them extensively for my Saudi eSIM review series.

Support Me on Ko-Fi Orange

What SIM Cards & Plans Does Mobily Sell at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (+Prices)?

Mobily Saudia Arabia Logo
© Mobily

Mobily, by Etisalat from the United Arab Emirates, is the second-largest mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.

Etisalat Logo New
© Etisalat

It was the mobile operator to end STC KSA's monopoly.

Subsequently, it was also the first to offer 4G/LTE in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

After luggage claim and customs, you head to the arrivals hall by taking a left turn after passing the doors.

After a short hike, you will find the Mobily stand on your left side (on the left of the Zain stall).

Mobily Saudi Arabia Store at Jeddah Abzulaziz International Airport Terminal 1

Unlike the staff members at STC KSA on the right, the Mobily employees will explain the plans to you.

Some airport-specific, perhaps even Jeddah Airport-specific, plans are sold by Mobily.

Some of its regular plans and Visitor (Tourist) SIM cards are sold here – only the expensive ones, of course 🙄.

Mobily Saudi Arabia Visitor Plans

Even then, Mobily's plans are still reasonably priced with generous allowances.

Mobily sells two different types of plans: one with international call credit and another without.

The following three plans with international call credit (some of which are Visitor Plans) are sold by Mobily at Jeddah Airport:

PriceDataSocial Data 1Local MinutesInternational MinutesValidity
115 SAR20 GBUnlimitedUnlimited200 minutes14 days
115 SAR10 GB15 GB500 minutes25 SAR28 days
172.50 SAR15 GB25 GBUnlimited40 SAR28 days

1 for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp & YouTube

And unlike STC KSA, these prices are VAT inclusive – so you do not need to add an extra 15% on top of the listed prices.

Then you have these four plans without international calls are sold by Mobily at Jeddah Airport:

PriceDataSocial Data 1Local MinutesValidity
172.50 SAR59 GBUnlimited3000 minutes28 days
207 SAR79 GBUnlimitedUnlimited28 days
253 SAR100 GBUnlimitedUnlimited28 days
395 SARUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited28 days

1 for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp & YouTube

Mobily Saudi Arabia Tourist SIM Cards at Jeddah King King Abdulaziz International Airport

The plans above are called Prepaid and can be purchased in Jeddah proper as well, for example.

If you were to do so, a few cheaper ones are available too, as shown below:

Mobily Saudi Arabia Prepaid Plans (JED)

I bought the 115 SAR SIM card (with 20 GB of data) because I had less than 24 hours in Jeddah – the STC KSA section explains why.

This turned out to be the Mobily Visitor Package 100 (I initially thought regular tourist SIM cards were not sold at Jeddah Airport).

Before I got my SIM card, I had to hand over my passport and show my visa number (I had an eVisa, so I had to show the PDF document to the salesperson).

Because I flew with Saudia and had an onward flight with it too (within 96 hours/4 days), I was eligible for a reduced stopover visa (94 SAR/25 USD) instead of the regular tourist (e)Visa (535 SAR/142 USD – multiple entries for up to 90 days each stay within a year).

If you fly with Flynas or Saudia (like I did) with Saudi Arabia as a stopover and not as a final destination (so from country A flying to Saudi Arabia for less than 96 to country B with the same airline (Flynas or Saudi), you can get the Stopover Visa for free. But fees may apply. I had to pay 94 SAR because I booked my flights before the 90-day timeframe.

If a visa label has been attached to your passport, you only have to show that one.

Biometrics, your fingerprint(s), are also captured as part of Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration laws.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Mobily captures your right index finger.

Once all is settled, the SIM card is handed to you… and you have to figure things out yourself.

Sure, you do not have to ring several USSD codes or change (APN) settings for the SIM card to work.

But almost all mobile operators selling SIM cards at airports, and even regular stores, I have been to at least want to confirm your SIM card work.

Not Mobily… and neither did STC KSA and Zain KSA 🗿.

Anyway, once you have inserted your SIM card into your phone, you will get various text messages in Arabia/English or Arabic first and then English (unlike STC, which just sends them in Arabic).

This is when you know your SIM card has been fully activated, and information regarding your plan is texted as well.

Mobily Saudi Arabia Activation Text Message

And that was it – that is how I got my Mobily SIM card at Jeddah Airport.

One thing the Mobily store at the airport cannot do for you is give you Mobily eSIMs (even though they are available to prepaid customers).

You can only get an eSIM if you visit a normal Mobily store (in Jeddah proper, for example).

Fortunately, travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia are available for reasonable prices.

Even unlimited data options are available.

Another perk with them is that you do not have to deal with Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

I write about the best travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia in my Best Saudi Arabia eSIM buying guide.

Buying an eSIM for Saudi Arabia Guide (logos of Holafly, Nomad, Menalink, Discover+, Red Sand, Alosim & Airalo)

I even tried many of them extensively for my Saudi eSIM review series.

Support Me on Ko-Fi Orange

What SIM Cards & Plans Does Zain KSA Sell at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (+Prices)?

Zain Logo
© Zain

Zain KSA SIM cards are available in the arrivals halls of Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED), costing between 120 SAR and 410 SAR.

Zain KSA, just Zain, is the smallest mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.

After you finish with customs, you turn left to get to the arrivals hall of Jeddah Airport.

At the end of the ramp, you will find the Zain stall on your left.

Zain Saudi Arabia Store at Jeddah Abzulaziz International Airport Terminal 1

When you approach the store, just say you are interested in a SIM card, and the staff will help you.

Do not expect the staff to be proactive. Many travelers seem to stand in front of the stall for the sake of it – they do not want to buy a SIM card. The employees know about this, so they cannot be bothered to ask everyone if they want a SIM card or not. You will not be considered rude for being proactive. Just do not cut the line if other travelers are being assisted.

Some regular Zain prepaid plans are sold at Jeddah Airport (without a surcharge).

While there are some others that seem to be (Jeddah) Airport-specific (plans you could not get in a regular Zain store).

The following five plans without international call credit are sold by Zain at Jeddah Airport:

PriceData 1Social Data 2Local MinutesValidity
120 SAR25 GB25 GB800 minutes28 days
150 SAR25 GBUnlimited1200 minutes28 days
180 SAR50 GBUnlimited1200 minutes28 days
230 SAR100 GBUnlimited1200 minutes28 days
410 SARUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited28 days

1 5G NR access
2 for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp & YouTube

Then you have these two plans with international calls:

PriceData 1Social DataLocal/International MinutesValidity
115 SAR20 GB20 GB 2500 minutes 428 days
150 SAR25 GBUnlimited 3350 minutes 528 days

1 5G NR access
2 for Facebook, Skype & YouTube
3 for Facebook, Snapchat & WhatsApp
4 for local use and to Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Sudan & Yemen
5 for local use and to Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates & Yemen

Zain Saudi Arabia Tourist SIM Cards at Jeddah King King Abdulaziz International Airport

Officially, the prices of all plans listed above prices are VAT-exclusive, so you would need to add an extra 15%.

But I was charged the quoted price when I bought my SIM card.

So either the prices are VAT-inclusive, or the employee forgot to charge me VAT 😳.

Tourists are not exempt from VAT because STC KSA charged me VAT when I bought a SIM card from them.

Interesting 🤔 – I bought the 120 SAR SIM card with 25 GB of data because I had less than 24 hours in Jeddah – the STC KSA section explains why.

Before I got my SIM card, I had to hand over my passport and show my visa number (I had an eVisa, so I had to show the PDF document to the salesperson).

Because I flew with Saudia and had an onward flight with it too (within 96 hours/4 days), I was eligible for a reduced stopover visa (94 SAR/25 USD) instead of the regular tourist (e)Visa (535 SAR/142 USD – multiple entries for up to 90 days each stay within a year).

If you fly with Flynas or Saudia (like I did) with Saudi Arabia as a stopover and not as a final destination (so from country A flying to Saudi Arabia for less than 96 to country B with the same airline (Flynas or Saudi), you can get the Stopover Visa for free. But fees may apply. I had to pay 94 SAR because I booked my flights before the 90-day timeframe.

If a visa label has been attached to your passport, you only have to show that one.

Biometrics, your fingerprint(s), are also captured as part of Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration laws.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Zain captures your right thumb.

Once all is settled, the SIM card is handed to you… and you have to figure things out yourself.

It is because Zain, and the other Saudi mobile operators, cannot be bothered to confirm everything works (which is very different from airport stores worldwide).

Fortunately, you do not have to change any APN settings yourself or ring USSD codes – all should work as soon as you get your SIM card.

But a bit of after-sale service would be nice 😒 (do not worry, I am not that spoiled 🤪).

Anyway, once you have inserted your SIM card into your phone, you will get various text messages in Arabia/English or Arabic first and then English (unlike STC, which just sends them in Arabic).

This is when you know your SIM card has been fully activated, and information regarding your plan is texted as well.

And that was it – that is how I got my Zain SIM card at Jeddah Airport.

One thing the Zain store at the airport cannot do for you is give you Zain eSIMs (even though they are available to prepaid customers).

You can only get an eSIM if you visit a normal Zain store (in Jeddah proper, for example).

Fortunately, travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia are available for reasonable prices.

Even unlimited data options are available.

Another perk with them is that you do not have to deal with Saudi Arabia's SIM card registration.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

I write about the best travel eSIMs for Saudi Arabia in my Best Saudi Arabia eSIM buying guide.

Buying an eSIM for Saudi Arabia Guide (logos of Holafly, Nomad, Menalink, Discover+, Red Sand, Alosim & Airalo)

I even tried many of them extensively for my Saudi eSIM review series.

Support Me on Ko-Fi Orange