The UAE now has a third mobile provider: will it offer better prices?

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Virgin Mobile has officially launched in the UAE – so how do the prices compare to du and Etisalat?

When it comes to mobile providers in the UAE, for a long time consumers have only had two options – du and Etisalat. Until now, that is.

The new player in town is Virgin Mobile (yes, as in Richard Branson’s company). Now, one caveat: it is owned by the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, which is also the parent company of du – but Virgin will be treated as a separate brand.

It appears to be aimed at the younger, more digital-savvy crowd, with all of its services offered via the Virgin Mobile UAE app. Meaning you don’t have to visit a store.

Using the app, you can choose own mobile number, customise a mobile plan, scan your ID and have your SIM card delivered anywhere in the UAE within an hour.

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Because it’s a subscription-based model, you don’t have to commit to any long-term contracts. You can set up monthly spend limits through the app, and track your data and minute usage in real time.

In a post on his website, Branson said: “I hope this new venture can bring this convenience and flexibility to customers in the UAE. It’s also good to create some healthy competition with a fresh new offering and to take on the big players.”

(Erm, it’s not like Richard Branson is exactly small fry himself, but ok…)

He continued: “The mobile sector in the UAE is ripe for disruption and the app signifies a paradigm shift to using digital tools to make life simpler for customers.”

Here’s hoping this will eventually mean cheaper calls and data across all providers…

WHAT ARE THE PRICING OPTIONS?

VIRGIN MOBILE

The cheapest plan is Dhs79 for 50 minutes and 1GB data (plus 1GB free) over a month (with no commitment for a year or anything). The most expensive is Dhs365 for 300 minutes of local calls, 200 minutes international, and 7GB data (plus 7GB free – so yes, 14GB). You can also adjust each category based on what you need most – for example, you might want lots of data but no calls. None of these plans have minimum commitments in terms of length.

Oh, and they’re offering a free one-month trial. You can find out more on the website.

ETISALAT

If you don’t want to sign up to a contract they offer a postpaid monthly plan for Dhs50, which includes 50 flexible minutes but only 100MB of data. There’s also a prepaid monthly plan for Dhs50, which includes 500MB, 50 flexi minutes, and 50 SMS.

For no commitments and data only on Etisalat you can pay Dhs149 for a month of prepaid 3GB of data – and you get an extra 2GB of social data to go along with that too.

Etisalat’s cheapest contract plan is Dhs150 a month, for 500 local minutes (or 200 flexible minutes) and 6GB data – but you have to sign up for 24 months.

DU

This provider has prepaid bundles starting from Dhs25 a month, which includes unlimited use of chat services like WhatsApp, Facebook, and 35 flexible minutes. You can also get a data bundle for Dhs100 a month, which includes 1GB data and 100 flexible minutes.

If you want to go postpaid, the cheapest plan is Dhs150, which includes 6GB data and 300 flexible minutes, on a 24-month contract.

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