Apple will open its first Middle East store in Dubai this year, after the United Arab Emirates agreed to exempt the iPhone maker from foreign ownership laws – leaving it with complete control over its operations in the country, according to a fresh story from Bloomberg.
The Emirates is an appealing market for Apple; the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has reported that smartphones make up 61% of the country’s roughly 17 million active mobile subscriptions, while the iPhone 5S was the country’s most popular handset during 2014’s fourth quarter.
However, Apple had seemingly been deterred from setting up its own retail presence in the UAE due to local regulations stipulating that all companies outside free-zones must, to operate in the country, be 51% owned by Emiratis or another company entirely under Emirati ownership.
Bloomberg has cited “two people with knowledge of the matter” claiming that the UAE government has now granted Apple an exemption from these laws, paving the way for the Cupertino firm to open the Dubai store before, at some unspecified future date, another store in Abu Dhabi. Bloomberg was unsuccessful in seeking comment from Apple or the UAE’s Ministry of Economy.