Foreign visitors are not exempt from the UAE ban on BlackBerry Smartphones. Like the 500,000 local subscribers, business travelers and tourists will also face the ban on using their BlackBerry Smartphones for anything other than phone calls, even if the phone originated from outside the UAE.
UAE BlackBerry Ban Affects Foreign Visitors Too
The ban begins October 11th, 2010. Emirati authorities claim the ban is based upon security concerns because BlackBerry data is automatically sent to company computers outside of the UAE, which makes it difficult, if not impossible for local authorities to monitor the data for illegal activities.
About 100,000 travelers pass through Dubai’s airport every day. Many of these travelers are in route to other destinations with only a quick lay-over in Dubai. Not being able to connect with their email is a major inconvenience. The UAE’s ban on data, BlackBerry e-mail, messaging and Web services, is discouraging business travelers and tourists, which is contrary to Dubai’s quest for tourism.
“I think it’s a very big step back. All developed countries in the world have it. Why should we not?” said Emirati BlackBerry user Maisoon al-Iskandarani, 24, who works at an international bank in Dubai. “How are you going to stay in touch with your clients and colleagues?”
This is not the first time the UAE has singled out BlackBerry. Last year a directive was issued by the UAE state-owned mobile operator Etisalat telling the company’s BlackBerry users to install software described as a service upgrade. Further testing showed it actually installed spyware on the phones. RIM (BlackBerry’s device maker) strongly distanced itself from Etisalat’s decision and told users how to remove the software.
Is the UAE paranoid or intrusive, or perhaps both? What do you think? Traveling to or through Dubai any time soon?