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Apple reaches accord with Saudi Arabian retailer to expand Middle East distribution

A Jarir Bookstore outlet in Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Consumers in Saudi Arabia will soon have a more direct link to Apple, as the iPhone maker has agreed to a deal with major book and electronics retailer Jarir Bookstore that will see the chain carry Apple's full product lineup and service customers.

Apple is not believed to have engaged directly with Middle Eastern retailers in the past, making the new agreement somewhat groundbreaking for the company. Jarir Bookstore chairman Mohammad al-Aqeel revealed the tie-up in an interview with Al Arabiya News.

Aqeel said that a deal with Apple will allow the chain to lower its prices on Apple products somewhat, as they will no longer be forced to pay a third-party distributor for access. The retailer currently sells a 32-gigabte iPod Touch for 1,249 Saudi Riyals — around $333 — for instance, nearly $100 more than the device's cost in the U.S.

Likewise, product availability should be improved with the new direct relationship. Distributors previously took as long as six months to bring new products into the country, Aqeel added.

It is unclear whether Jarir Bookstore will simply carry Apple products on its shelves or if the company will adopt Apple's preferred store-within-a-store concept. A similarly-groundbreaking deal with Czech retailer Alza, announced last month, brought the store-within-a-store setup to Prague.