It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.
So, how does one connect while in Saudi Arabia
Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
By phone Useful numbers Police: 999 Car Accidents: 993 Ambulance: 997 Fire: 998 Phone Directory (Fees Apply): 905 The three mobile operators in Saudi, incumbent STC , Emirati rival Mobily and Kuwaiti newcomer Zain (Vodafone Network) are fiercely competitive, with good coverage (in populated areas) and good pricing. A starter pack with prepaid SIM and talktime starts from about SAR30, and you can sign up in most any larger mobile shop (bring your passport).
Local calls are under SAR0.5/minute, while calls overseas are around or less than SAR2/min. And yes, you can bring in your own phone: despite grumblings from the clerics, both camera phones and multimedia messaging (MMS) are now legal. By net Internet cafes abound in major Saudi cities, and many shopping malls feature a gaming parlour or two. Rates are around SAR5/hour. While Internet in Saudi Arabia is cordoned off by a filter, it aims primarily at pornography, non-Islamic religious and domestic political sites in Arabic, and (from the traveller’s point of view) is nowhere near as strict as, say, China’s. Google, Skype, Wikipedia, all major webmail providers etc are all accessible. By mail Saudi Post has a good network of post offices around the country, but offices are closed Friday and Saturday.
Stamps for postcards to anywhere in the world cost SAR4. The bigger problem is actually finding postcards, as the mutawwa periodically crack down on the celebration of non-Islamic holidays like Valentine’s Day, Christmas or even birthdays, causing all cards of any sort to disappear from book stores! Your best bet is thus gift shops in major hotels. Mail coming in to the country from overseas is notoriously unreliable. Stories abound of thing arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all. There are branches of DHL, FedEx and UPS operating throughout the kingdom so a good rule of thumb is to have anything important sent through those channels.
Other tips on staying connected while in Saudi Arabia? Please add your comments and tips.