Etisalat to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone - UAE

The telecom company claims it's 'difficult' to directly compare prices in Saudi and UAE. 

Etisalat is to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone users in the UAE in the near future, the company revealed on Sunday.

“Etisalat will announce prepaid plans for the customers in the near future. However, as of now prepaid customers can also benefit from the free postpaid SIM card on purchase of every package and activate their iPhone,” a spokesperson said.

The country’s largest telecom operator also responded to criticism from Arabian Business readers over the difference in pricing of iPhone packages in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where Etisalat last month launched the Apple handset through its subsidiary, Mobily.

“Saudi Arabia and UAE are distinctly different markets in terms of size, iPhone projected penetration and pricing regulations. Hence, it is difficult to compare iPhone prices in these two countries,” the spokesperson said.

“Furthermore, pricing packages in UAE are decided in conjunction with the TRA (the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) and Etisalat [only has] limited control on the final pricing,” he added.

The monthly fee for a 16 GB iPhone 3G starts at SAR99 ($26.4) in Saudi Arabia and includes 75 minutes of talk time, 75 free text messages and 200 MB of data.

The handset then costs SAR2,650 ($706.6) to buy.

Etisalat’s price plans for the iPhone in the UAE start at AED199 ($54.2) per month, which includes 125 minutes of talk time, 125 free text messages and 500 MB of data. The phone then costs AED3,090 ($841.3) to buy.

“The elements of the package and the benefits being offered along with it are also as important as the base price,” the Etisalat spokesperson said.

“For instance, Etisalat is providing a higher data download bandwidth option for all the packages, considering that the iPhone users will require high bandwidth applications such as music and videos, that can be best utilized on Etisalat's advanced 3.5G network that covers 99 percent of the populated areas in the UAE,” the spokesperson added.

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Posted by: Dan

You made one good point, INFLATION, and Etisalat is helping it reach new heights. And a MONOPOLY that allows exorbitant rates is not the same as standing as a winner of war and dictating the conditions.

Posted by: Maz

If you compare Etisalat prices for phones and internet to almost anywhere in the world you will see that they are far more expensive.

Posted by: Doug

SS, both the riyal and the dirham are pegged to the dollar. That means nothing is essentially lost in the exchange rate. Fine, 1 SAR isn't 1 AED. But it does mean that 3000 AED will always be 3059 SAR. Inflation is also rife in both the KSA and UAE - neither of which explains why the Saudi iPhone is dramatically cheaper than the UAE iPhone. There isn't a difference in operating cost and in all honesty you would expect the iPhone to be cheaper in Etisalat's home market given that they control all the infrastructure and could easily offset any operational costs. With respect to the 'rules' of unfair competition, the point I was making was that the TRA sets regulations which PREVENT unfair competition. These rules include pricing tariffs so that one tariff from one telco isn't substantially cheaper than a comparable one from another telco (which is ridiculous since it hurts consumers). The rules also state that no phone can be exclusively offered by one telco and not the other. Evidently the rules have been bent because the iPhone is not available on a Du tariff. A far fairer system would be to allow both telcos in the UAE to service the iPhone and for both telcos to independently set their tariffs. This would mean prices would come down for consumers, and more people would buy the product, generating more money for the telco. This is all basic Economics 101, but then again, what do you expect from a country that honestly believes people will pay more for rent here than they would in somewhere like London or New York.

Posted by: SS

Allright, so the iPhone is here. And I am almost considering it a moral obligation to express my opinion to the lovers of this fantastic work of art and technology (it may seem I am about to start drooling about the iPhone,, Im not). First thing. What's all the fuss about? iPhone this iPhone that. If someone wants to watch YouTube, seriously guys sit at home and do it. You dont really need to be driving with one hand, coffee in the other, traffic overflowing to the point of no return, and somehow magically you manage to put your iPhone on your forehead to watch YouTube. Seriously. Second, I have a question for you Mr. Doug. Have you ever exchanged currency from Saudi Riyals to the UAE Dirham? If you answer yes, then I would not believe you because my friend, the exchange rate is NOT the same. 1 Saudi Riyal = 0.97 +/- UAE Dirham. When you reach a transaction of billions, millions even thousands frankly, it DOES make a difference. Third, the operational costs DO differ. How? Easy. Inflation. I will not bore you with the economics and finance behind it. As I said, Inflation. Period. And Etisalat is not breaking rules of 'unfair' competition. You dont HAVE rules in unfair competition. In the words of a smart man... After a war, the winner decides what were war crimes. Thank you for listening everybody.

Posted by: Michael Daniel

I've been waiting for the day when etisalat would bring the iPhone to the UAE, but upon examining the plans its quite clear that the consumer is the loser in this arrangement. Lets review shall we. first the one time payment of the iPhone the most expensive being 3090 is not a problem really if it weren't for the 199 per month that according to the etisalat people includes a rental charge for the phone so for 12 months during your contract you are paying an undisclosed amount towards the phone that you have already paid for cuz if you review prices of the phone direct from apple in HK, France or Italy when you buy an unlocked phone for use with any provider it works out to about 3000 AED so my question is why am i paying more especially when that price is tagged to a data and voice package that is laughable! The blackberry is 300 a month for unlimited data why not have the same plan. Also another annoying factor with iPhone is that I have to get a new number when i'm very happy with the number I have and when i ask why the need for a new number the response is usually very vague and uninformed. Is the new chip better equipped to work with the iphone and etisalat's systems. Also etisalat state that the added benefit of buying from them is that you'll get the service that comes with it, whereas if you have an unlocked or hacked phone you won't. My question is, are there certified apple professionals who will service my iPhone? I'm very skeptical of it. For etisalat to make it worth my while make the price a 1000 AED and let me choose my plan from a selection of plans that suit my needs. I mean My cell provider in canada offers a $75 plan 225 AED a month and you would get 500 minutes talk time weekdays then unlimited talk time during weekends unlimited text messages 1GB data transmission with visual voicemail. This is just a simple lets squeeze as much money as we can from our unsuspecting concumers. Not cool!

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