A new mobile service brand, Virgin Mobile Qatar, launched yesterday over the network of Qatar Telecom (Qtel). Virgin claims to be Qatar’s first youth-oriented mobile brand, and offers pre-paid-only, simplified all-day tariff plans (with no distinction between peak and off-peak), with a 180-day airtime validity – which it says is the longest available in the country. Local calls are charged at QAR0.55 (USD0.15) per minute for the first five minutes used in each day, and QAR0.30 per minute after that, whilst mobile internet access costs QAR1 per 1MB. Richard Branson, chairman of UK-based Virgin Group, said: ‘Virgin Mobile [has] more than 15 million customers around the world … I am proud to have partnered with Qtel to make Virgin Mobile Qatar our first mobile launch in the Middle East.’ The service is the eighth Virgin Mobile branded operation in the world, following on from launches in the UK, Australia, the US, Canada, France, South Africa and India. Branson added that Virgin Group is mulling further partnerships with Qtel, which has a group presence in 17 countries.