DUBAI // The newest version of Apple's iPhone may not be for sale in the UAE yet, but one dealer is already preparing to bring his own unique take on it to these shores: an iPhone 4 encased in solid gold.
Stuart Hughes, a British designer, created what he claims is the world's most expensive phone, based on the previous version of the popular gadget, the iPhone 3Gs. Costing a whopping £1.93m (Dh10.8m), Mr Hughes' previous iPhone creation, the iPhone 3GS Supreme Rose, featured an 18-carat gold casing and nearly 200 diamonds. The home button on the face of the handset was made from a single cut diamond.
Mukhtar Badrudin, who sells Hughes' products in Dubai, says that several of the Supreme Rose phones have been sold in the region, including to customers in the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. He adds that he has sold 16 of the iPhone creations in the UAE thus far. He now plans to sell Mr Hughes' golden iPhone 4 in Dubai. Encased in 24 carat gold, it will cost around Dh12,200. According to Mr Badrudin, it will be available here "soon", along with special versions of the iPad, Apple's touchscreen tablet computer.
Mr Hughes' "Supreme Fire" iPad, containing 2.5 kilograms of 24 carat gold, will cost around Dh610,000, while one made of solid platinum and encrusted with 173 diamonds will be available for around Dh550,200. Mr Badrudin said he had already received several inquiries about the iPad. "I've been told to try and get them in during Ramadan so people can give them as presents for Eid," he said. "People have been inquiring ahead of Eid celebrations."
Each of Mr Hughes' iPhone creations is made to order, and Mr Badrudin walks each would-be owner through the list of available options, which includes diamonds in nine different shapes and colours. From his office in Liverpool, Mr Hughes then creates a computer-generated image of the piece, which is sent to the client for his or her approval. If they like the design, the buyers are asked to make a deposit in an escrow account, where it is kept until the phone is ready - which can take more than a month.
The finished products are often delivered personally to their owners by dealers - who also collect the rest of the payment. "It's important that people get that personalised service," Mr Badrudin said. "Everyone here wants something better than the next person. "It's something special and personal, it's not run-of-the-mill. These are handcrafted phones, and when you handcraft something, if you go to an event like a wedding, it's worth bringing it out."
For those concerned that the iPhone 4's reception problems - Apple has acknowledged that the phones can lose signal if they are held in a particular way - could be made worse by encasing it in solid metal, Mr Badrudin offers reassurance. "The process has no effect on the phones whatsoever," he said. And with a price tag barely double the cost of the standard 4 models that are already available on the grey market - imported without licence from Apple - Mr Hughes' newest work may find even more takers than his previous one-of-a-kind phones did.
"The iPhone 4 still isn't out here," said Nagham Akileh, a social media executive. "It's there in the grey market and you have people willing to pay Dh6,000 to get it now, rather than wait a couple of months and get it for a reasonable prices from the telecom providers. "So if there's a crazy demand at those prices, I wouldn't be surprised if people were to go for these exclusive designs as well."
Bling H20, a luxury water brand, has launched a Dh15,000 bottle of water festooned with more than 10,000 Swarovski crystals. (The crystals are applied by hand.) Part of the store's Dubai Collection, and previously available exclusively at the Harvey Nichols department store in Mall of the Emirates, the bottles can now be bought online and come with white handling gloves so you don't smudge the crystals. And if you have a hankering for sweets, you'll soon be able to indulge in a Dh920 truffle. Chocopologie, which sells the pricey "La Madeline Au Truffe", will soon feature the treat at its new store in Dubai Festival City, which is scheduled to open later this summer. And for the toddler who has everything, how about a little - or a lot of - ice. A mere Dh62,439 will buy you a pacifier with 278 diamonds totalling three carats, set in 14-carat European white gold. Available through Personalised Pacificer.