UAE start-up Aladdin.life launches platform to compare telco service plans
The company has hired former du boss Osman Sultan as its chairman
A UAE start-up is launching an online platform to allow customers to compare and purchase telecom services.
The business, Aladdin.life, began a beta version of a site that allows users to put in call and usage details to try and secure the best plan out of the more than 1,500 offered by the three local operators Etisalat, du and Virgin Mobile.
The venture's founder, Subhra Das, said that many customers have been looking more closely at charges they incur under current plans since they have been working from home due to the restrictions in place to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Customers are currently re-assessing their budgets and needs … they are switching from pre-paid to post-paid and vice-versa, some need more local minutes, while some need more international [minutes] and data to stay connected with their family abroad,” Mr Das told The National.
“Consumers ... will emerge with entirely new sets of telco needs in the post-coronavirus period,” he added.
Founded in July last year, Aladdin commissioned independent research which found that only 20 per cent of UAE customers think they are on the best mobile plan and 70 per cent believe they can make moderate to significant savings by switching plans.
“These findings are consistent with global trends in the industry,” Mr Das said.
The company has also brought in former du chief executive Osman Sultan as its chairman, who left the company on December 31 after a 14-year spell at its helm. He described the company's offer as "a re-imagination of the entire buying experience in the telco industry … one that is focused to help customers take informed decisions”.
Aladdin.life is rolling out three new features - Genie to help find the best plan, an online marketplace for mobile plans known as Bazaar and a Community area to connect users, retailers and operators, Mr Das said.
He added that the Bazaar database has details of more than 1,000 pre- and post-paid mobile calling plans and 1,500 plans including devices, and will direct customers not only to major retailers but also to smaller sellers who may not have a web presence of their own.
“It’s an AI-centric model. Once consumers decide to opt for a new plan, it will direct them to the nearest physical retailers and also offer them options for online buying. Users can decide the medium on their own,” said Mr Das.
The company is also planning geographical expansion into Saudi Arabia – the Arab world’s largest economy – and the region's most populous country, Egypt.
“Business circumstances are the same in Saudi Arabia and Egypt … we will go live in the next few weeks and, in parallel, we will be adding fixed-line, SME business plans and individual devices to our portfolio,” said Mr Das.
He has more than 25 years of experience in the regional telco industry at companies including du, STC, Lebara, Globacom, Mobinil (now Orange Egypt), Ooredoo and Vodafone, working in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Nigeria, India and Europe.
Updated: April 26, 2020 06:00 PM