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UAE official: No special treatment for Apple

Company licensed in UAE according to standard requirements, says official

Apple is rumoured to open its first Middle East store in Dubai this year
Apple is rumoured to open its first Middle East store in Dubai this year

US tech giant Apple has not been given special treatment to encourage it to open stores in the UAE, a senior official has told Arabian Business, ITP.net's sister site.

Ahmad Al Hosani, director of trade registration department, at the country's Ministry of Economy, said that Apple, as with all foreign companies, is subject to the UAE's laws and regulations.

In a statement, he said: "Apple was licensed in the UAE through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches. Within this mandate, branches of foreign companies in the UAE have full management rights provided they work through an Emirati service agent."

His comments follow a report by Bloomberg that said Apple is likely to be exempted from foreign ownership laws in the UAE and could be allowed 100% ownership of its stores.

Al-Hosani added: "The UAE today offers an attractive investment climate with several facilities and incentives. This has made the country a leading destination for major global companies.

"Global companies establish their business in the UAE according to relevant legislations including the Commercial Companies Law, which serves as a legislative umbrella for such overseas companies."

Bloomberg on Wednesday cited sources close to the matter as saying the dispensation was a condition for the world's largest listed company to set up in the UAE.

It reported that Apple will open its first Middle East store in Dubai this year and then Abu Dhabi after securing the privileges.

Under local regulations, all businesses operating in the UAE must be 51% owned by Emiratis or a company wholly owned by them unless they are based in free-zones.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple's largest retail store is on track to open in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates in August.

The retail space is expected to be about 50,000 square feet in total, with a main entrance on the second level of the mall's new Fashion District.

The new store in the Mall of Emirates is expected to be its biggest outlet in the world, bigger than its current flagship outlet - more than double the 23,000 square feet Grand Central Store in New York.

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the UAE last year, meeting with Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as a number of Apple resellers.