VIDEO: du’s parent company launches UAE’s third mobile operator Virgin Mobile
Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co (EITC), the holding company for UAE phone service provider du, will launch Virgin Mobile as a new brand in the UAE, EITC’s chief executive Osman Sultan said on Tuesday.
EITC will have full ownership, management and operation of the Virgin Mobile brand in the country, Sultan told a news conference, adding that services under the brand would start “within weeks.”
EITC has acquired a licence from British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s privately owned Virgin Group to operate Virgin Mobile-branded services in the country.
EITC’s licence term is for over five years, granting it full rights to ownership, management and operation of the brand in the UAE, Sultan said at a news conference in Dubai. An EITC spokesman told Reuters the licence was bought from the Virgin Group.
The UAE Virgin Mobile brand and du will not compete head-to-head, he said, with the Virgin brand to focus on consumers.
Virgin Mobile will use EITC’s network and infrastructure in the same way that du does, and EITC has created an internal business unit to handle the brand in the UAE, he said.
Former Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia Chief Executive Karim Benkirane has been appointed managing director of the UAE brand and will report to Sultan.
“Our aim at EITC is to firmly establish the UAE’s leadership as a power centre for the region when it comes to telecommunications by introducing innovative brands that will drive the connectivity agenda in new and unexplored directions,” he said.
Benkirane said the new brand wants to “bring a differentiated experience, one that truly embraces digitilisation.”
The UAE is the third Middle East country to adopt the Virgin Mobile brand after Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Ooredoo, then branded QTel, was ordered to close its Virgin Mobile Services by the country’s regulator in 2011 while Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia continues to operate.
Meanwhile, in another development, Du said it had shed “tens” of jobs as part of months of restructuring, its CEO Sultan told reporters.
“Streamlining an organisation means that you find pockets of efficiency and some positions have been made redundant … I triggered this process in April/May last year,” he said.
The company’s financial performance has been under pressure since late 2014 as the pace of growth in the mobile market is unable to keep up with the increasing royalty rates paid to the government.
du was launched ending rival Etisalat’s domestic monopoly in 2007 and it claims it currently has more than 8 million customers in the UAE, which has a total population of 9.3m.
Sultan also said the government had yet to notify EITC of the royalty rate for 2017.
(With inputs from Reuters)