The sale of Apple devices in Saudi Arabia have always been through third party resellers. According to Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Eqtisadiah, Apple has been granted a license to operate in Saudi Arabia. The newspaper says that their source is from the Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the source said Apple is now cleared to “fully operate” in the Kingdom.
“Fully operate”, according to the source, means that Apple, while operating in the Kingdom under the name ‘Apple of Saudi Arabia’, will be able to not just market and retail Apple products but also maintain those products, conduct training and do product research and development. Saudi government is hoping the freedom for research and development that they have given Apple will help boost the region’s IT, computer, and smart device industry.
What this would mean to the local buyer is that they can now purchase Apple products online from the Saudi Arabia Online Apple Store. The website at present would not allow a buyer to add hardware products to the cart because Apple is not licensed to directly sell merchandise. Instead it provides link to the location of the nearest third party reseller. Currently, Apple devices can only be bought from third party retailers like Zain and Mobility.
It is not yet clear if Apple will conduct product research and development in the Kingdom now that Apple has been granted a license to operate in Saudi Arabia, like they did in Israel when they purchased the Israeli Firm Anobit back in 2012. Even if they do not take advantage of their freedom to do product research and development in the area Apple could still stand to gain from getting access to market and retail to a 28.3 million people–market.