BUS 220223 APPLE AD6-1645699158917
Apple will be looking to further reduce the gap with Samsung in the local smartphone market share tussle. Image Credit: Jeffrey George

Dubai: Apple’s newest store on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island will open its doors to the public on February 25, and will be the US tech giant’s fourth in UAE. Earlier this month, Apple shifted to a brand new location within Yas Mall, where it first opened in 2015. The relocation came with a doubling of the store size.

“We’re celebrating the grand opening of Apple Al Maryah Island, bringing together a team that speaks more than 30 languages in a stunning new space,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Senior Vice-President of retail + people at Apple. “This fantastic store invites visitors to discover our latest products, (and) find the support that they need for the devices they own. Since we opened our first Apple store in UAE in 2015, we have welcomed nearly 30 million visitors.”

Not just a ‘store’

While the range of Apple devices and accessories on display is impressive, the new outlet’s look and location will have a fan following of its own. The shop, on the ground floor of Galleria Mall, overlooks a stunning waterfront promenade and Downtown Abu Dhabi. Customers can enter the store through the promenade by walking up two routes, which are paved in black granite stone. “This is the first time that this particular material has been used in any Apple retail store,” said a spokesperson.

The store is surrounded by glass on all sides to allow natural light to come in and is reminiscent of the tech firm’s iconic glass cube on New York’s Fifth avenue. The latest Abu Dhabi outlet also has green ficus trees that lend some greenery to the indoors.

Apple had been posting job vacancies in recent weeks related to its Abu Dhabi operations. “We have over 80 team members that are highly trained in our store, and they’re ready to offer the services that have become the hallmark of Apple stores around the world,” said a spokesperson. “Collectively, we come from 28 different countries.”

At Yas Mall, the Apple store has 100 members, which is nearly double the 2015 numbers. The Al Maryah outlet will open at 5 pm on Friday.

Market share

According to some industry estimates, Samsung is currently the biggest mobile vendor in UAE with roughly 31 per cent of the market share. California-based Apple follows closely behind with around 30 per cent. Other top players are Xiaomi, Huawei, and Oppo. Data from research firm IDC showed that smartphone shipments to the Gulf fell in the third quarter of 2021 due to supply chain bottlenecks.

Saudi Arabia saw smartphone shipments decline 4.5 per cent in the third quarter on a sequential basis, but still accounted for 55 per cent of the GCC’s overall smartphone market. UAE, the second-largest market in the region, saw shipments fall around 3 per cent.

“Most brands faced logistical bottlenecks during the quarter that exacerbated ongoing supply shortages,” says Akash Balachandran, senior analyst at IDC, in a statement. “Due to supply constraints on low-end devices in particular, large brands have attempted to bridge the gap by focusing on pushing sales in mid-range and higher price bands.

“However, the low-end and ultra-low-end markets remain important segments and the lack of supply in this space along with the related pricing issues resulted in an overall market drop.”