There’s now a fourth mobile provider in the UAE, but it comes with a catch

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You have to be under 29 to get a plan with them. Yes, actually…

Virgin Mobile made a big splash yesterday when it officially launched in the UAE, giving consumers a third option to choose from over the standard packages offered by du and Etisalat.

Well, it seems that Etisalat weren’t going to be outdone and have been prepping what looks like a fourth alternative in response (remember Virgin Mobile is actually owned by du’s parent company the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company – but is run as a separate brand).

A member of the What’s On team came across a YouTube ad that pointed them in the direction of Swyp.ae, a youth-centric UAE mobile service brand with a focus on data over calls or SMS, and that offers discounts to its customers at a number outlets across the UAE. The irony is the particular team member would be unable to use the service. Why? Well…

You have to be between 19 and 29 years old to register. They’ll even ask to check your ID before handing over your SIM card.

So, how does it differ to what Virgin Mobile is offering?

For starters, it appears that Swyp is purely a prepaid service.

The base plan offers you 5GB of social data (this appears to be confined only to ‘social apps’) for Dhs50 for a month.

You can then pay for add-on packages for general data that range from Dhs25 for 500MB to Dhs150 for 4GB, with the option to sign up for a 1GB plan specific to Snapchat and Instagram. You can also pay Dhs25 for additional 50 flexi national and international minutes to 100 countries.

Like Virgin Mobile, Swyp prides itself on being app-centric (although the website does say you can sign up via an Etisalat store at various malls around Dubai if you wish), allowing you to apply for a new number, or port your existing one over from your current carrier, and then manage and recharge your account without ever needing to put down your smartphone.

You also get access to Swyp’s network of WiFi hotspots throughout the city (which, while we don’t know for sure, we imagine are connected to Etisalat’s network).

The final perk, as we mentioned, is “discounts that really matter to you”, which based on the list of logos on the website looks like deals on everything from pizza to cinema tickets. Not bad (now we feel even more excluded as folk in our thirties).

By comparison, Virgin Mobile’s cheapest plan clocks in at Dhs79 for 50 minutes and 1GB data (plus 1GB free – and this isn’t just social data), and isn’t age restricted, so appeals to a wider customer base. Oh, and Virgin are offering a free one-month trial too.

We’ve reached out to Etisalat for more information and comment on Swyp and will keep you updated…

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