Apple sheikhs up its retail operation, opens stores in the Middle East

It only took Apple 7,515 years to arrive with its caravan of shiny iPhones, iPads, Macs and assorted accessories, but they’ve finally made it to the Arab world!

The Silicon Valley-based tech giant traveled 8,108 miles as the Peregrine falcon flies to open its first two stores in Arabia. And not a moment too soon, either: people first started living in what is now the United Arab Emirates way back in 5,500 BC. So the pent-up demand for an iOS retail outlet must have been something else.

Hopefully Apple’s two outlets – in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall – have enough AC on hand to keep all the desert-born fanboys cool while they push their way back toward the Genius Bar. U.A.E is subtropical-arid, with its hottest months of July and August boasting average maximum temperatures above 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take that, Siri!

According to an AP blurb in U.S. News & World Report, Apple’s big move – its own sort of retail Arab Autumn – had been in the works for years – in fact, ever since the first Apple Stores opened for business in California and Virginia:

Apple has focused its attention outside of the Arab world since beginning its retail operations in 2001. Resellers and gray-market stores filled the gap for years, with most new iPhones regularly available from mall kiosks across Dubai soon after their U.S. release.

Now though, analysts say Apple wants to reach wealthy consumers like other high-fashion brands at Emirati malls. That’s especially true as Apple tries to sell its new Apple Watch line, with some of the high-tech timepieces costing as much as $17,000.

And speaking of watches, my former colleague Chris O’Brien estimates on VentureBeat that Apple’s been doing a bang-up business in wearable tech. Chris perused Apple’s most recent annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and discovered that:

Apple Watch, which was available less than half of FY 2015 still “accounted for more than 100% of the year-over-year growth in net sales of Other Products.” A little math: Other Products grew from $8.379 billion in 2014 to $10.067 billion in 2015. That means Apple has sold at least $1.688 billion worth of Apple Watches. But as the statement implies, the actual figure is higher in a category that was dragged down by falling iPod sales. If that pace can be maintained, it’s reasonable to think Apple Watch could be at least a $5 billion business in this current fiscal year.


Apple can expect to move a lot of product at its two new stores on the Arabian Penninsula. The UAE has a population of nearly 10 million and, thanks to its oil reserves that are the seventh-largest in the world, there’s a mess o money sloshing around in search of a brand-new iPhone 6s.


The UAE enjoys the second-largest economy in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia.

It claimed a GDP of $377 billion in 2012.

And while its biggest city, Dubai, went through a painful recession between 2007 and 2010, it’s now running a balanced budget.

Last but not least, Dubai is the kingdom’s crown jewel of tourism, holding two-thirds share of the UAE’s tourist economy.

And tourism, of course, is about to get added boost when everyone in the region starts flying into Dubai and heading for those new Apple Stores.

Credit: Karl Mondon/Staff


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  • Jeff Bottaro

    NOTICE the diminishing volume as this over-appreciated equity enters the endgame of its own bubble. EVEN THE BUSINESS STRATEGY has the overt appearance of squeezing the last drops out of what WAS a copious harvest. The NUMBER of phones sold by AAPL actually fell SHORT of analysts’ estimates; unsustainable organizational / promotional strategy has, for the time being, propped up earnings.