Apple’s first Saudi Arabia retail store could open as soon as 2019

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Customers in the UAE pay more for iPhones according to the iPhone Price Index
The new iPhone X goes on sale to customers in neighboring Dubai.
Photo: Apple

Apple is in discussions to open a retail store in Saudi Arabia in 2019, a new report claims.

At present, Apple is in second place in the Saudi market behind Samsung. Despite this, it has no direct Apple Store presence and has to sell through third party retailers.

Apple is supposedly deep in talks with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority. These talks are at an advanced stage, thanks to a push from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to lure more foreign investment — especially high-end luxury and high tech brands — to the country. A deal could be announced as soon as February.

Amazon is also said to be in similar licensing discussions about bringing its Amazon Web Services (AWS) and possibly an Amazon warehouse to Saudi Arabia. However, these talks are at a much earlier stage, and no date has been proposed for investment plans to be announced.

Apple’s presence in Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia currently has no Apple Stores, its neighbor Dubai has several. The first of these opened in late 2015 in a massive 50,000-square-foot retail space at the Mall of the Emirates.

iPhones have been supported in Saudi Arabia since a deal was struck way back in 2009. However, the first retail presence for the products only came about in 2014 when a deal was agreed with Jarir Bookstore. As part of the deal, Apple not only sold its products in the country, but also offered technical support for Saudi customers.

Source: Reuters