A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 2, 2010

UAE Suspending Blackberry; Saudis to Follow

It's not just a threat any more; the UAE is suspending Blackberry E-mail; and browsing services as of October 11, affecting some 500,000 users, and Saudi Arabia says it will follow suit even sooner, banning services by his coming Friday. (Apparently the ban does not extend to voice telephone calls, according to some of rhe reports.) The UAE argues that both the US and UK have legislation requiring that they be given access to calling information in national security cases but that Research in Motion (RIM), which runs Blackberry, has not complied with similar UAE legislation. India has been in negotiations with RIM because Blackberries were reported used by the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, and has threatened to suspend service as well.

Given the role of Dubai as a business, travel and communications hub, I would assume this would be a blow to RIM and that the October 11 date — more than two months out — is a sign that this is an attempt to bring RIM to the negotiating table.Here's Gulf News on the need for providing "alternative services" by October; and here's a survey of pressures on RIM in other countriesj, including reports that RIM agreed to set up a server in China to retain service there.


Abu 'Arqala said...

Any indications whether the recent assassination team in Dubai used Blackberries in their work?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Abu Arqala:

Great question. I've found nothing via Google so far, and suspect if they had the Emirates would be highlighting it (as India has Mumbai) -- but that's a guess.