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Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 02:52 pm PT (05:52 pm ET)

Apple granted license to sell and market products, conduct research in Saudi Arabia

According to a report on Wednesday, Apple has been granted a license to operate retail, marketing and research operations in Saudi Arabia, giving the company first-time access to the region.



Citing a source within the Saudi Arabia's General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Eqtisadiah (roughly translated as The Economy) reports Apple will operate under the name "Apple of Saudi Arabia."

Under the license, Apple will be able to conduct product maintenance and marketing activities, conduct training and work to develop the region's IT, computer and smart device industry, the source said.

SAGIA's decision to give Apple the green light is part of a new strategy targeting foreign investment and business entities that represent possible value to Saudi Arabia's economy, which has a unique investment environment when it comes to foreign entities.

According to a translated version of the report, the person said, "The strategy of investing in the Kingdom to establish a strong economy [is] characterized by openness and flexibility and giving the private sector in the Kingdom — both domestic and foreign — all the opportunities and facilities [needed] to enhance its role and its contribution to the GDP."

With booming sales and successful products like the iPhone, Apple was apparently a top contender for the new program. The company already operates research and development facilities in Israel after purchasing flash memory firm Anobit in 2012.

So far, Apple's Israel-based research labs have produced a number of patents relating to memory and system-on-chip technology. It is unclear if "Apple of Saudi Arabia" will focus on the same R&D tasks or will merely maintain retail stores and accompanying support infrastructure.