Apple Inc. (AAPL) Plans to Open Stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Apple Santa Monica Store

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is planning to open its first store in the Middle East particularly in Dubai this year. The plan came after the iPhone maker obtained an exemption from foreign ownership laws in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Bloomberg based on information from people familiar with the matter.

The exemption was a condition for Apple to set up a business in UAE. After opening its store in Dubai, the tech giant will also open a store in Abu Dhabi, according to the sources who requested anonymity because the plans are still private.

Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited UAE and met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. He was also seen checking out potential store locations in the country.  A previous report indicated that Apples’ store in Dubai will be located at the Mall of the Emirates while its store in Abu Dhabi will be located at the Yas Mall.

Under the laws in the UAE, Emiratis must own 51% stake in all businesses operating in the country unless a company is based in free-zones. In March, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansoori said the government is working on a new foreign investment law that would allow 100% foreign ownership in certain industries.

In an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, Ahmad Al-Hosani, director of trade registration at the Ministry of Economy said Apple received a license to operate its business “according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches.”

UAE is an attractive market for Apple

Market observers suggested that UAE is an attractive market for Apple. Data from Telecommunications Regulatory Authority showed that there are approximately 17 million mobile users in the region and 61% of those are smartphone users. The iPhone 5S was the most popular handset in the nation during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Apple generated 63% of its revenue from its iPhone business during its most recent quarter ended June 27. The tech giant sold 47, 534,000 units of iPhone during the period.

iPhone 6S release date

Meanwhile, recent reports indicated that iPhone 6S release date will be on September 18. Last month, a leaked internal memo from Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD), a major telecommunications company in United Kingdom stated that it will start taking pre-orders on September 18, and the devices will be available on September 25.

Prominent websites ITHome in Japan and Macerkopf in Germany reported that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will be released on September 18.

Technology observers suggested that the reported iPhone 6S release date is 99% possible since Apple traditionally released its iPhones in the United States, Japan, Germany, and United Kingdom. They also cited that September 18 perfectly matched the 10-day gap between the announcement and the availability of the iPhones in the market. Apple is expected to officially announce its next generation iPhones on September 9.