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Mon 2 Aug 2010 05:55 AM

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UAE retailers told to stop new BlackBerry subscriptions

Jacky's Electronics chief says it received no prior notice of TRA's ban decision.

UAE retailers told to stop new BlackBerry subscriptions
RETAIL CALL: Retailers in the UAE have been told to stop new BlackBerry subcriptions. (Getty Images)

Electronics retailers in the UAE have been told to stop activating new BlackBerry subscriptions following the announcement that some of the smartphone’s services will be banned from October 11, Arabian Business has learnt.

“We’ve been asked to stop activating new subscriptions,” Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky’s Electronics, which operators 12 stores in the UAE, told Arabian Business.

On Sunday, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) confirmed that some BlackBerry services will be suspended from October 11, as they contravene the emirate’s telecommunications regulations. However, retailers were not informed of the decision before Sunday’s announcement.

“No indication as such was given, we were following this in the press along with everyone else,” Panjabi said.

Sheriff Rizwan, CEO of online shopping portal ALshop.com, said the decision by the UAE authorities will have a “huge” impact on the UAE smartphone market.

However, he was not surprised by the move by the TRA and said it “was inevitable eventually because [the authorities] are trying to lock down on companies that work on independent platforms and open loop holes.”

“We hope something is worked out as the BlackBerry platform definitely does have its fans and we hope to see the UAE finding an amicable solution,” Panjabi said.

UAE operators Etisalat and du issued statements on Sunday confirming that they were looking to deliver alternative solutions to BlackBerry customers who face being unable to use services providing email, web browsing, instant messaging and social networking.

However, retailers are currently still in the dark as to what alternatives they can offer new and existing customers.

“It may mean the telecommunications providers need to re-tweak their pricing and service packages accordingly. The indications from both du and Etisalat are that they will communicate something in the next few days as an alternative. Till then we need to sit and wait as we await news from them,” said Panjabi.

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Mark Towers 9 years ago

I am very surprised how both Etisalat and Du have been taking upto 1800 dhs for a balckberry handset and then out of the blue announce this. Again it is a shame there is so little competition in the market as it is obvious we cannot trust the companies to advise customers effectively and with some compassion. When you are garaunteed a market share of about 50% I suppose the customer is not really that important. I fully support regulations and laws being adhered to but who was checking this compliance for the past few years as Blackberry got a majority share of the market. Has it took this long to realise there is a conflict with the regulations set out in the UAE and the way blackberry operates. There has either been a huge security risk uncovered recently or someone who checks compliance has made a mistake that will now hurt the consumer in the pocket . Either way it is the way you manage the bad news that helps you gain respect from your future customers. There is a valuable lesson in this for alot of local companies.

Kash 9 years ago

I am frequent traveller to UAE and other parts of the world for mostly business. I use Blackberry without any problems in other parts of the world, and it is one of the most important features of email that makes this smartphone so useful for most business applications. Does this mean now after October my BB wont work in UAE? we are hardly going to change our companies phones just because of this regulation in UAE? Not only will this effect normal users in UAE but will also start to have problems with overseas business users comming to UAE.

Joe Bloggs 9 years ago

This is purely and simply about protectionism. 1. The UAE rulers are worried about discontentment from UAE investors and heads of major local families, so they want to monitor what is being said and written about them. Blackberry Messenger does not allow them to do this. 2. The TRA/Etisalat/Du and in turn the government loses out on money when the BB messenger is used instead of SMS. (Similar situation to VOIP). 3. BB does not create or maintain local jobs. 4. The GCC governments are under severe scrutiny/pressure from countries such as the USA, to provide more data and information on its citizens, residents and activity in their countries, BB has an effect on their ability to do so. 5. The BB push-email system is unique and the only real reason people use the system. This is also secure and countries can't effectively monitor the activity, although there are ways and means (Please remember that any email you send or any conversation you have can and may be monitored not just by the UAE, but by any country, in the name of security). It already happens. 6. I would not be suprised if Etisalat or du have simialr services about to be launched and don't want to compete with BB. You read it here first.

mohammed 9 years ago

This has nothing to do with security and everything to do with profits. Blackberry users get charged a flat fee for unlimited usage of internet, emails, downloads, etc... even when roaming outside the country. By having people switch (Etisalat and Du have quickly offered free devices!!) to iPhone, Nokia, etc... they get to charge for every kilo byte of downloaded data whether its email or otherwise. Think of the incredible profits to come. I would buy Etisalat shares!!!