A consortium including Virgin Mobile has been awarded an international voice telephony licence in Oman, the latest instance of the MVNO building its presence in the Gulf states.

Connect Arabia International, whose backers include Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA), has won a 15-year international licence.

VMMEA is already active in Oman as an MVNO where it claims to hold nine per cent of the country’s mobile market.

Being able to terminate its own voice traffic will further strengthen Virgin Mobile’s position in the market.

And Virgin Mobile is pushing elsewhere in the region too. In Saudi Arabia, it was one of three companies awarded MVNO licences at the end of June. It will launch its mobile service on STC’s network.

The other winners in the Saudi contest were Jawraa Lebara and Axiom Telecom.

A requirement of the latest licence in Oman is that Connect Arabia International will sell 40 per cent of its shares through an IPO, according to Reuters.

In March, VMMEA’s expansion plans received the boost of a $50 million investment  from the Gulf Investment Corporation.

The MVNO also has operations in Jordan and South Africa, in addition to Oman and Saudi Arabia.