Apple could debut its first retail location within Saudi Arabia as soon as 2019, thanks to the government's current push towards a "high-tech look" for the country. Reuters reports today that officials in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh -- including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- are currently in licensing discussions with both Apple and Amazon in an effort to entice major technology companies into the country.

Apple is rumored to be talking with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia's foreign investment authority, and a licensing agreement for Apple's retail stores with the authority is expected to come by February 2018. The first location would then be targeted for an opening in 2019.

Kingdom Tower at night

Image of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia via Wikimedia Commons

Apple and Amazon are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, two sources told Reuters, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to give the conservative kingdom a high-tech look.

A licensing agreement for Apple stores with SAGIA is expected by February, with an initial retail store targeted for 2019, said two sources familiar with the discussions.

Amazon's cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, is said to be leading the company's discussions with Saudi Arabian officials. The talks are believed to be in "earlier stages" than Apple's, with no specific time frame given for Amazon's investment plans in the country.

The Saudi Arabian government's regulations previously placed heavy limits on foreign ownership of businesses, preventing companies like Apple and Amazon from coming to the country. In the past two years, however, falling crude oil prices "highlighted the need to diversify" the country's dependency on oil within its economy, leading to courting technology companies.

Evidence of this came in September, when Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on services that provide access to calling someone over the internet, including Apple's FaceTime. The ban was enacted in 2013 and began due to the government's fear of non-secure internet communication among its residents, but was lifted this year in the country's new efforts to "attract more business" to its economy.

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Top Rated Comments

DrewDaHilp1 Avatar
84 months ago
Well Timmy here's your chance to do some real political grandstanding and tell the House of Saud how they treat gays and women are wrong.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
84 months ago
Regarding women, seems you don't read (the) news, it's changing but slowly, what do you expect, you can't expect it to go from very conservative to completely open in a year, it might take decades.
What I expect is for SJW Cook to put his money where his mouth is and stand behind what he says. If he's going to see fit to lecture me on his pet sjw issues then he damn sure better do the same elsewhere. He likes to lecture people on LGBT, racial, civil rights & women's issues but that political bluster goes out the window when it affects his bottom line.

He's nothing more than a hypocritical phony.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
84 months ago
Retail....because Cook wouldn't dare discuss the country's abysmal civil rights record would he?:rolleyes:
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mactactic Avatar
84 months ago
Can’t wait for HYPOCRITE Timmy to tell us what a great opportunity it is for Apple to open a store in a country that Murders Gays and is Repressive to Woman!!
And liberals wonder why Trump why Trump won....
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hastings101 Avatar
84 months ago
Well Timmy here's your chance to do some real political grandstanding and tell the House of Saud how they treat gays and women are wrong.
That would just be the greatest thing to see :D
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IPPlanMan Avatar
84 months ago
Will the store sell rainbow watch bands?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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