Will this force Etisalat and du to cut prices and shake up their outdated contract model?

Christine is a journalist from South Africa, who has lived and worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, covering everything from hard news to art to business & tech. Having been bitten by the travel bug as an infant, Christine finds it fairly easy to uproot herself in search of new adventures and stories. With degrees in both fine arts and journalism, she’s equally interested in visual storytelling as well as the written word. Having been part of three launch teams of three different media startups in her lifetime, she’s intimately familiar with what it takes to get a publication off the ground.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile has just become the third mobile brand to operate in the UAE, and it’s the first “fully digital” mobile service.

With only two two telecom operators licensed in the UAE at present, Etisalat and du, the introduction of Virgin Mobile UAE is expected to shake things up (at least a bit) with increased competition in the stagnant market.

du’s parent company, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), announced that the new brand would be on its way in January this year.

And although du will have to share its network with its new younger sibling, EITC has promised that Virgin would be planning to offer different price points and contract terms.

Aiming at a younger digital-savvy generation, Virgin Mobile will offer all its services via its app which can be found like any other, on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Potential customers can even keep their existing number while ordering their new SIM cards. They can also monitor call and data usage through the app, without having to visit a store.

“The app allows customers to choose their mobile number, custom-make a mobile plan, scan their ID, and have their SIM card delivered anywhere in the UAE within an hour,” the statement said.

The subscription-based model allows for use without a contract.

Osman Sultan, EITC’s chief executive officer, said: “Our team has developed an innovative digital platform to create customer-focused solutions. For example, there is no longer the need to go to a shop for your mobile needs, just download the app, and you can not only have your SIM delivered, but also manage your mobile plan through the app.”

Virgin founder Richard Branson also weighed in by saying “We have a fantastic team in place which I believe will make mobile better for customers across the UAE.”