Dubai: It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here: the first official Apple store in the Middle East. And Apple addicts are hoping it's worth the wait.
The Apple store will open its doors to the public on March 16 at Mall of the Emirates, sources said. Scheduled to be a shop within a shop, its opening is expected to be followed by the traditional fanfare and long queues of the city's Apple addicts waiting to test out the latest products or grab an opening day bargain.
Moroccan Noureddine Baloush, a self-confessed Apple-head, says the opening of the store would save him the cost of flying out to other countries every time Apple launches a new product. "I was just about to book my ticket to London to get the iPad2. But now that the official store is only a week away from opening, surely they will stock whatever is stocked in the rest of the world.
Resellers' Days numbered
"Regardless of how many authorised resellers or retailers exist in the market, that's all they are. They still have to wait for authorities to approve products and check international stock before supplying them to buyers in Dubai," says the businessman.
Although little is known about whether residents will have access to the iPad 2 next Wednesday, it has been confirmed that a 10 per cent discount will be offered on all purchases made on March 16. The store will also run a limited promotion offering gift vouchers to all who purchase iMacs and Macbooks.
Angelina Derickx, a Belgian entrepreneur and long-time Apple fan, is hopeful that the store will remain faithful to its international counterparts and feature the much-loved Genius Bar. At the Genius Bar, Apple owners have access to on-the-spot technical support and repairs as well as free workshops and seminars. "Whenever I'm in Paris, I spend hours at the Genius Bar. It's been years that I've waited for this giant to make its presence felt in the UAE."
From Dubai's pre-iPhone days, when Apple users were an underground community, to a time when keeping up with the Joneses often includes having the latest Apple product on display in your living room, Steve Job's pet project has reached new heights of popularity.
The store could fan the flames of the Apple addiction, finally including Dubai as one of the pillars of the global Apple community.