It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has finally opened the doors to its first ever retail stores in the Arab world.
The two new locations, both in the United Arab Emirates, opened on Thursday in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall.
Local media reported the usual hullabaloo we’ve come to expect from Apple store openings, with enthusiastic staff attempting to generate extra excitement by high-fiving the first visitors as they made their way into the stores.
Rumors earlier in the year suggested the Dubai site would be Apple’s largest to date, though Gulf News’ estimation that it covers just 10,000 square feet means London’s Covent Garden store remains comfortably the world’s largest at around 40,000 square feet.
With plenty of wealthy Emiratis and UAE-based expats already keeping staff busy in stores operated by global luxury brands such as Emporio Armani, and Burberry, the Cupertino company will likely feel it fits right in as it targets moneyed shoppers with its range of mobile devices.
While Apple resellers in the UAE have for many years taken on the company’s retail role, the tech giant will be pleased to have its own specially trained staff on hand to talk customers through its products. This could certainly help drive sales of the Apple Watch, with Apple’s carefully crafted sales pitch perhaps helping to persuade some of the region’s wealthier consumers that the priciest $17,000 model is something you really shouldn’t be seen without.
And of course, the new stores mean the company can offer expert advice via its Genius Bar, a fact not lost on Dubai investment manager Abdullah Albanna.
“It’s great to have a store that can offer brilliant technical support and information, we’ve needed that,” Albanna told local news outlet The National.
Present at the Dubai store opening was Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president for retail and online stores. However, the executive chose not to speak to the press, with an Apple representative saying she was simply “here to enjoy the day.”
With the UAE openings, Apple’s retail operation, which launched in 2001, now encompasses 18 countries