‘There will be some remote areas where we will use the Etisalat network,’ said du chief executive officer Osman Sultan. ‘But the most densely populated areas will be covered by our network. We know that we are facing a tremendous challenge [in terms of competition].’

The new operator has a full-service licence and expects to start providing mobile services in the second half of 2006. Sultan would not be drawn on the status of du’s fixed-line plans. ‘Things are happening on a fixed-line network. It depends on our ability to use the existing infrastructure. We are in ongoing discussions,’ he said.

Du will close an initial public offering of 20 per cent of its shares on 14 March that will list on the Dubai Financial Market (MEED 24:2:06).