The iPhone 3G will launch in the United Arab Emirates on February 15, according to an Emirates Business 24/7 report. Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat announced in a local newspaper that it would be brining the iPhone to the region this month; the launch date was later confirmed by Mark Davis, Program Director for iPhone at Etisalat. Davis went on to explain that iPhone users who have already obtained an unlocked handset through third-party channels will also be welcome to use Etisalat’s service. Etisalat has reportedly been working on the project for two years and finally signed an agreement with Apple at the end of 2008. “It is a long process to get approved by Apple as they only want one operator in every country. We passed the test mainly because of our market capitalisation, retail presence and deep pockets and the demographics.” Curiously, the report also states that the next version of the iPhone is “due out in June,” and while it doesn’t attribute this information directly to Davis, there is a strong possibility the date came from him, as his interview serves as the basis for the story.
Update: Feb. 20, 2009 Etisalat’s Mobily brand will offer the iPhone 3G in Saudi Arabia, and is now allowing customers to reserve a handset through its website. Plans and pricing have yet to be announced.
Update: February 23, 2009 Etisalat has launched the iPhone 3G in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia through its Mobily brand. In the UAE, the 8GB model will be offered for free with the most expensive, 643 AED (roughly $175) monthly plan, which includes 500 minutes of talk time, 300 SMS texts, and 2000 MB of data. Handset pricing increases with lesser plans, from 560 AED (~$152) with a 504 AED (~$137) monthly plan, to 840 AED (~$229) with a 349 AED (~$95) monthly plan, and finally to 2,646 AED (~$720) with a 199 AED (~$54) monthly plan. The 16GB model is priced similarly, with prices ranging from 375 AED (~$102) with the most expensive plan to 3,090 AED (~$841) with the least expensive.
Pricing in Saudi Arabia is less dependent on plans, with the 16GB model priced at 2,650 SRI (~$707) and the 8GB at 2,255 SRI (~$602) with a 99 SRI ($26) monthly plan. The iPhone 3G will also be available for prepaid customers, selling for 2,800 SRI (~$748) for the 16GB model and 2,400 SRI (~$640) for the 8GB.