Apple on Thursday announced an Oct. 29 opening date for the first two Apple Stores serving the United Arab Emirates, including a Dubai outlet expected to be the world's largest.
The company is planning a tandem launch for the lucrative UAE market, with Apple Stores slated to open in Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall and Dubai's Mall of the Emirates. Reports in August suggested Apple would soon set up shop in the UAE after being granted an exemption from the country's foreign ownership laws.
Apple has long been rumored to be on the cusp of launching a UAE retail presence, which some expected to be the company's first in the Middle East. However, that honor fell to Turkey when the glass cuboid-capped Istanbul Apple Store opened in April.
While not the first Apple Store to serve the region, the upcoming Dubai location will likely be the world's largest when its doors open to customers later this month. Located in a former cinema complex, the Apple Store, Mall of the Emirates outlet features some 50,000 square-feet of floor space and will host the usual complement of product displays, a Genius Bar and an area for workshops. Another Dubai location is said to be in the works at the Dubai Mall.
In a related development, a video posted to Instagram and subsequently spotted by an AppleInsider tipster purportedly shows construction on the Dubai location, and suggests Apple CEO Tim Cook might attend this month's opening celebration. The rumor has yet to be confirmed. Cook was last seen in the UAE in 2014 when he discussed potential investment opportunities with Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi.
Apple currently conducts sales in the country through authorized resellers and, since 2011, its own online store, but the company is quickly expanding Middle East operations under a broader international Apple Store push mapped out by SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts.
The Mall of the Emirates Apple Store in Dubai will hold its grand opening festivities at 4 p.m. local time on Oct. 29, to be followed by Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall location at 7 p.m. Regular operating hours for both stores will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday.