Apple is finally selling products through retailers in the Middle East

(Photo by Abdullah Nouman)

(Photo by Abdullah Nouman)

Apple has never had an official retail presence of any kind in the Middle East, until now. Thanks to a deal struck with Jarir Bookstore, Apple is directly providing its products in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabian government cleared Apple to operate in the country a couple of months ago. The agreement with Jarir will have Apple working with Saudi Arabia’s largest books and electronics retailer.

Previously, Jarir had to go through third-party vendors to get its hands on Apple products, which took three to six months. Apple will not only be supplying Jarir directly, but also offer technical support for Saudi customers. Jarir will be able to sell Apple hardware at cheaper prices now that it doesn’t have to go through third-party providers.

Apple opened up the iTunes Store in the Middle East in December of 2012. It was reported in 2011 that Apple was opening up its first Middle Eastern retail store in Dubai, but that didn’t pan out.

Tim Cook visited the United Arab Emirates earlier this year to discuss how Apple can develop its relationships with carriers in nearby countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria. “We are all about making great products that people don’t know they need today but when they have them, they can’t live without,” said Cook at the time. “We would like to bring our passion to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Africa.”

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  • Ali Fawaz

    A good start. Next step, official Apple Stores. I hope The spread to other Middle Eastern countries.

  • 3bdlrhmn

    omg thats the Jarir bookstore i shop at !

    • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

      Since you live there, do you have any idea as to why there are no Apple retail stores in those countries? Is there something political, cultural or religious stopping such a thing from happening? I just don’t understand why after so many years in a region of wealth, why would there be no Apple retail stores.

      • mahadragon

        iPhones are super expensive in middle east. I believe the cheapest iPhone was in the neighborhood of $900+. They don’t subsidize over there. And exactly how many apps are in Arabic? They are extremely conservative in middle east, ok, let me rephrase that, they are a bit backwards in the middle east. They would probably require the Angry Bird to wear a hijab because he doesn’t look modest enough, gotta cover up!

      • stike05

        To be a bit more specific it is only really Saudi that is super conservative, most of the rest of the middle east is fine. Also in al khubar (the area that this jarir is in) you can actually get away without wearing a hijab and just have on an abayeh, and in compounds (these areas of land enclosed by walls) you can wear whatever you want.

        Anyway to help answer the question as to why no official stores are here, I feel that the reason that there isn’t any Apple stores here is probably because to own a business here requires you to know a Saudi who is willing to help you open the business (as said above many of them are basically the definition of backwardness, although some of them are fine like my Saudi friend). It is also just a pain because people often steal money that they get to find projects and stuff like that here. and I just don’t think Apple will think that it is worth it. But I am not by any means an expert, just a 17 year old who also has had to live here for five years. Also as for most of the wealth, barely any of it leaves the royal family.

      • 3bdlrhmn

        “they are a bit backwards in the middle east.”
        maybe but i bet you’ve never talked to a real saudi.

        Is there something political, cultural or religious stopping such a thing from happening?

        no…. Starbucks is everywhere here so ur question is invalid :p

      • man from the land of the sand

        The laws to open up a business, especially in the retail sector are extremely different from the rest of the world, for foreign companies. The company, in this case Apple, will need to get a Saudi partner to open up their stores in the kingdom. It’s quite complicated for a foreigner/ non-saudi to run an international franchise over here. I guess that’s why we won’t be seeing official Apple stores over here anytime soon.

      • 3bdlrhmn

        i have no clue, saudi arabia is part of the RICH gcc countries, its common to find people with 2 or 3 cellphones , we have lots of towers.. the biggest shopping malls and filled with western and international brands.. i don’t understand why apple is not there yet !?

      • THAMER ALFURAIJI

        I am from Saudi Arabia and the reason is The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority’s rules and regulations. If any foreign company wants to open in the kingdom it should have a saudi arabian partner with 25% partnership for him(it) & also many other rules, and i think apple passed these rules lately by having an exception from the authority.

        So its not political, cultural or religious and the prices are good . many people have two iPhones sometimes :) and others have iPhone + iPad + iMac + Macbooks and even a Mac Pro 2013 :)

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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