The Best Of What’s Going On In MENA

Want A Gold iPhone 5S ? Read This...

Apple’s latest iPhone 5S, which the Cupertino, California-based company claims is the most “forward-thinking smartphone” in the world, will be available in a select few countries this week, though the United Arab Emirates, or any other state in the Middle East for that matter, didn’t make the first cut. Despair not, however. You can still get your hands on one in Dubai this Friday. The catch: You’ll have to pay a hefty $1000 premium for a ‘gold’ 5S. Some shopkeepers and online retailers in Dubai are offering to supply the 5S — which Apple prices online at $649 for the 16GB unlocked version in the U.S., for 6000 U.A.E. dirhams, or roughly $1635 — at the same time as it’s launched in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. on Friday. An online retailer told The Wall Street Journal the smartphone can be collected late Friday local time. He didn’t specify the source country for these phones, but given that several countries where the handset is being officially launched in are a few hours ahead of Dubai, and only a relatively short direct flight away – it doesn’t seem an impossible feat. “You’ll have to book it today if you want one on Friday. They are selling pretty quickly, our first consignment,” the person, who declined to identify himself on the telephone, noted. And when asked if he would also do a trade in for an iPhone 5, he said: “We are selling [5S] at a premium.
You want a trade in, come back after a month,” hanging up abruptly after that as another phone rang in the background. While the chunky premium may be too rich for some, visitors or residents in the region – especially in petrodollar-rich countries such as the U.A.E., Qatar and Saudi Arabia – won’t be put off: After all, flashing the latest brands is one of the favourite hobbies for some of the rich, and wannabe famous, here. And if it’s bling, even better. Which kind of explains the demand for the first ‘gold’ iPhone launched. The 5S is also available in silver, or space grey, the company says. The demand for iPhones in the grey market is also strong in some of these countries, including in the U.A.E., as Apple’s popular video-calling application FaceTime is blocked on phones sold through official channels. An Apple call-centre executive on the telephone said the company would update on its website the launch date for the 5S in the U.A.E. He flagged up warranty concerns when asked about the phone being available in the grey market this weekend.