(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.
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When the iPhone 4 launched in the Middle East — specifically in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar — it did so without support for FaceTime. Needless to say, this prompted some speculation. Why would Apple have dropped theFaceTime capability only from Middle Eastern iPhone 4? Was it a carrier restriction… or was Apple trying to sidestep Middle Eastern governments getting interested in regulating the new video chat standard?
It now seems like the real explanation probably has more to do with carrier restrictions than anything else. According to iRamadah, FaceTime works in the Middle East on the new iPod Touches, despite the fact that even on the iPhone 4, FaceTime is a WiFi-only standard. Seems at this point more likely that the carriers kicked for whatever reason than anything to do with Big Brother.