Tuesday 3rd August 2010

The United Arab Emirates telecommunications regulator has announced that it will suspend all email and Internet browsing services for RIM BackBerry from October 11th 2010.

500,000 BackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates have been shocked to learn that, from October this year, they will no longer have access to data services as a result of regulator’s claims that the hand held devices pose threats to judicial, social and national security. According to officials in the gulf state, RIM BlackBerry devices allow data to be immediately exported offshore, beyond the capability of their regulatory enforcement.

According to the Washington Post, the ban will not be confined to expatriates and permanent residents of the UAE, it will also impact visitors to the region, with the crackdown being extended to include foreign visitors, even when they utilize devices that were issued outside of the UAE.

Responding to the UAE’s regulatory body decision, RIM commented:

"RIM operates in over 175 countries today and provides a security architecture that is widely accepted by security conscious customers and governments around the world.

"RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers."

Expats in the region have reacted strongly to the new law, stating that they believe it will add to their workload and diminish their ability to respond quickly to business emails and developments. Speaking to UK newspaper The Guardian, one expat (who wished to remain anonymous) commented: “I believe it will set back business in Dubai, since business and technology seem to go hand in hand. Some businesses need to operate out of places like the UAE more than others, so it may persuade businesses that don't need to operate in the region to set up shop elsewhere.”

A fellow British expat shared his views: “I live in Dubai and work in Abu Dhabi. I think the impact will be quite substantial. My colleagues and I make ourselves available almost every hour of the day, we constantly check emails using our BBs. The UAE has very different ideas about working hours, and clients often contact us after the working day is over. The market is very competitive, so being able to respond to a request quickly and without the restrictions of location is very important.

I think it will be another kick for a country with an already waning economy, I think a lot of expat businesses are already a bit sick of the UAE's red tape.”

Read the full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/02/blackberry-ban-uae-gulf-states

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