Virgin Mobile eyeing UAE entry, says Branson

Virgin boss says he wants to “roll out Virgin Mobile throughout the Middle East”
By Roger Field
Tue 14 May 2013 03:21 PM

Virgin boss Richard Branson said on Sunday that he wants to “roll out Virgin Mobile throughout the Middle East” and added that he is in discussions to potentially bring the brand to the UAE.

He added that Virgin, which is exploring mobile opportunities in the region via its subsidiary Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa, is also interested in other Middle East markets including Bahrain and Kuwait.

Asked whether he was optimistic about gaining an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence in the UAE, Branson told CommsMEA: “We’ll see. We have had discussions and I think the odds are that an MVNO of some kind will happen, and we’ll wait and see what the authorities have to say on it.”

Virgin Mobile is also closer to launching operations in Saudi Arabia after the country’s regulator, the CITC, revealed that the company was one of five firms shortlisted to scoop one of three MVNO licences being offered in the country.

For the Saudi Arabia MVNO licence, Virgin Mobile MEA had partnered with the country’s incumbent operator, STC, according to Mikkel Vinter, CEO of Virgin Mobile MEA.

While the company still awaits final confirmation of the KSA licence, Branson appeared upbeat about the potential of the brand in the country. “I think the perception of Virgin in the Middle East is of a quality brand and I think that is how we will pitch the brand, but we will save details of exactly how we will present it until we have got a licence and then we will hopefully come out with guns blazing,” he said.

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