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Friday, May 14, 2010

Virgin Comes to Qatar (Again!)

Branson rode into Doha on a jetski yesterday, shooting out a plume of red and white smoke (from the jet-ski, not Branson!), heralding yet another British company's move into the country.

In what must be a bit of a blow for Vodafone, Virgin Mobile has brokered an exclusive deal with Qtel to offer its prepaid mobile phone service.

In some ways, Virgin seems like more of a match for Vodafone in Qatar. I have visited Vodafone's offices, and they are light, colourful and very modern, whereas one imagines Qtel to be a bit of a dinosaur.

But Virgin was the modern challenger to Vodafone in the UK, and in Qatar Vodafone have spurred on Qtel to be far sharper than they used to be, at least in regards to marketing.

Vodafone will certainly need their wits about them now. In the UK Virgin Mobile entered a crowded market and managed to shake it up simply by offering a simple and easy to understand pricing model when every other competitor was using incredibly complicated ones.

An essential element of the company - which is the fastest growing in Virgin group - is the brand, one which is already established here with Virgin Megastore in Villagio.

Virgin is also in Qatar with its cord-blood bank, as Shabina Khatri investigated last year in Qatar's Futuristic Cord Blood Bank.

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