By Sarah Townsend
Planned launch of outlets in Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall has been pushed back by up to two months
Apple stores in the UAE will not open in September as scheduled, sources have said.
Official launches of Apple stores in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi have been deferred by ‘one or two months’, Emirates 247 reported.
Sources also told the newspaper that there would be no Apple store in Dubai Mall; just the two aforementioned locations.
“There will be no store in Dubai Mall,” one unnamed source was quoted as saying. “The only two stores are located in Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and Mall of the Emirates. We have our men in both the locations.”
The technology giant had reportedly been pushing for the stores to open by September. But the source said: “The pace at which work is progressing is going to be challenging.”
Apple did not respond to Arabian Business’s request for comment.
News of the delay comes after a senior official insisted that the US tech giant has not been given special treatment to encourage it to open stores in the UAE, amid speculation over a report by Bloomberg claiming that Apple will be granted an exemption to UAE foreign ownership rules that stipulate minimum 51 percent Emirati ownership.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is likely to be allowed 100 percent ownership of its planned new stores in the UAE if the foreign company establishes itself within a ‘free zone’.
Last week, however, Ahmad Al-Hosani, director of trade registration department at the Ministry of Economy, told Arabian Business that Apple, as with all foreign companies, is subject to the UAE’s laws and regulations.
“Apple was licensed in the UAE through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches," Al-Hosani said.
"Within this mandate, branches of foreign companies in the UAE have full management rights provided they work through an Emirati service agent,” he added.
Apple has two registered entities in the UAE, one at the Jebel Ali Free Zone, which is 100 per cent owned by Apple and another branch at Downtown Dubai, according to Bloomberg.
It has been reported that its new store in Mall of the Emirates is expected to be its biggest outlet in the world – more than double the flagship 23,000 square feet Grand Central Store in New York.
The retail space is expected to be about 50,000 square feet in total, with a main entrance on the second level of the mall's new Fashion District.
But commentators say the new store openings are unlikely to have an adverse impact on Apple resellers or the current prices of Apple devices, as these are set by the manufacturer.
Instead, they could boost overall demand in the UAE for Apple products.
Mueez Rahman, the business development manager for Albatha Group told the National on Thursday: “Apple is in a titanic global struggle with Samsung and the Android operating system; it wants all its products in as many outlets as possible.
“Tourists may want to visit the Apple store, but most people in the UAE will be buying from their local shops.”For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.