Adverts fuel Apple shop rumours

Apple has listed 13 job openings for sales positions in the UAE, fuelling rumours that it is preparing to open its first store in the Middle East.

Customers at Apple’s Omotesando shop during its opening in Tokyo, Japan, two months ago. The tech giant has advertised for retail positions in the UAE, sparking hopes of a shop opening here. Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg
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DUBAI // Apple has listed 13 job openings for sales positions in the UAE, fuelling rumours that it is preparing to open its first store in the Middle East.

And the website for the men's luxury magazine EDGARDaily claimed that the largest Apple shop in the world would open in the Mall of the Emirates.

The tech giant posted the advertisements on Wednesday for positions including shop leader, service specialist and manager, as well as the company’s genius, expert and creative positions related to customer support and sales.

Apple has not officially announced the opening of any shop, and Majid Al Futtaim, the mall’s developer, did not immediately respond to queries.

But the company did hint at establishing a regional presence.

“The United Arab Emirates is an important country for Apple,” a spokesman said, “We launched the Apple Online Store, UAE in 2011 and it’s one of our fastest-growing markets around the world.

“We look forward to opening a physical store in the region and sharing Apple’s unique shopping experience and services that have been incredibly popular around the world, in the near future.”

Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, visited the UAE in February.

He met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Mr Cook also toured Etisalat.

It was that visit that led Apple fan Tariq Khoory, 26, from Dubai, to speculate that the company would open a shop here.

“Opening an Apple store in the UAE correlates with the UAE’s vision and Dubai’s Government in being a smart city, and one of the top leading countries in the world,” said Mr Khoory, an engineer.

“It is because of the vision of our leaders that we can come across such success.”

Mr Khoory has been a supporter of Apple since 2008, when he bought his first product from the company – an iPhone 3G.

“Opening an Apple store means you can get more support for Apple products and faster response to any queries, as well as create many job opportunities for residents of the UAE,” he said.

An Apple shop in the country would be exciting news, said Khaled Abdulrahman, 36, a senior business development manager in Abu Dhabi.

“I think it’s about time,” Mr Abdulrahman said. “The UAE has always been the hub of technology and investment in the region. It’s the right move.”

The country’s infrastructure also lends itself to being the company’s first location in the region, he said.

“We have one of the highest penetration rates of mobile phones, in terms of the infrastructure,” Mr Abdulrahman said.

After using the products for more than 15 years, he said he was hoping for a “true Apple store”, one with a unique design.

“It would be really nice to see something that would stand out in terms of architecture because Apple has always been the centre point between arts and technology,” he said.

Apple products are only available in the UAE through authorised resellers such as iStyle and Virgin Megastores, as well as Apple’s online store.

The iPhone 5 is the country’s most popular smartphone, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a report in June. Apple phones, however, account for 9.1 per cent of total handsets in the country, falling behind Nokia, which has 50.2 per cent, and Samsung, which has 19.3 per cent.

Apple opened a two-storey underground store in Istanbul in April, in the city’s Zorlu shopping centre.

It was its first in Turkey and Eastern Europe.