Since its launch on April 1, 1976, Apple Inc. has been a name to reckon with, even if sailing was not always smooth for the tech company.
Founded by popular Steve Jobs, respected Steve Wozniak, and lesser know Ronald Wayne, the American multinational technology corporation rode its own rollercoaster on a journey of success and worldwide stardom. Following the death of Jobs in 2011, longtime deputy to the latter Tim Cook took the role of CEO.
Known instantaneously by its bitten apple logo and without the need for any accompanying letter, the tech giant has successfully captured attention throughout its 44 years on the market.
In the UAE, if we are to take a single example, Apple as a brand seems to comfortably maintain its position in "Top Brands" lists year after year. Customers love it, there's no denying it. The company's own popular smartphone, the distinguishably sleek and admired iPhone, also reigns sales from time to time.
In the Arab region, Dubai is home to a collection of 70+ vintage Apple items
According to The National, the largest private collection of items manufactured by Apple Inc. resides in Dubai. Jimmy Grewal, a resident of the GCC city from a young age, is the proud owner of this vintage collection.
His interest in Apple products was ignited when he attended the American School of Dubai (ASD), then known as the Jumairah American School. In 1978, the school bought an Apple II, an 8-bit home computer released in 1977 and the first successfully mass-produced microcomputer. Later on, that same gadget was gifted to Grewal by his "old computer teacher at the school when he retired" to enrich the man's collection of over 70 items.
"I hope that at some point there's a science or technology museum open in the country where some of this might be more accessible to more people," the collector and Apple aficionado said, reiterating that the private set remains closed to the public.
But it isn't only about personal interest.
The UAE, even if not in its entirety, seems to have been a decent customer of the tech company since the latter's early days.
ASD opened in 1966 by the Dubai Petroleum Company in affiliation with International Schools Services "to provide schooling for the children of their expatriate personnel from the United States."
The school was perhaps one of the first institutions in the country to introduce the Apple IIe (e stands for enhanceD) - the third model in the Apple II series and the most successful one - in 1982 to its students. At the time, the board authorized the purchase of 15 Apple IIe computers to begin a program of computer instruction during 1983 and 1984.
The Apple IIe wasn't released until January 1, 1983, which only means ASD had pre-ordered its set of 15 computers, making its students one of the first to work on this device.
The first Apple Store to open in the region was in the UAE
Before any physical store was there, the first online Apple Store for the UAE was launched in 2011, or so we're made to believe by the website "cult of mac". In 2014, a headquarters quietly settled in. The office in Emaar Square in Downtown Dubai was created to serve the Middle East and Africa region and, of course, to recruit employees for the Genius Bar.
In 2015, Emirates Mall in Dubai and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi witnessed crowds like never before. Lines of people waiting to set foot in the minimalistic Apple Stores on their long-anticipated opening days - and the weeks that followed - overpopulated these two centers. In 18 months, both branches had welcomed more than 4 million visitors.
Finally, the Arab region had won itself its first official Apple Stores.
Almost two years later, the Apple Dubai Mall branch graced one of the largest malls in the world with its presence, taking "a 186-foot curved storefront and balcony overlooking Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain."
Saudi Arabia somehow witnessed the opening of an Apple Store at King Khalid International Airport's Terminal 5 in 2018. "Somehow" because it opened at an airport and in partnership with Virgin Megastore; the space it occupies is only 75 sqm, enough to fit four tables.
Neither the kingdom - besides that one T5 store - nor any other Arab country has an official Apple Store; authorized resellers are the only existing link to the tech giant in the remaining countries.
Why does it seem like the UAE is the only country given attention by Apple?
It's quite simple to answer the question above.
Population isn't a metric the U.S. company takes into consideration, that's certain. Saudi Arabia is home to over 32 million people, Egypt to 97 million, Algeria to 41 million, while the UAE to 9.5 million.
Compared to its fellow Arab countries, the UAE stands in the middle regarding the aforementioned. Come technology and economy, though, the tables turn to land in the UAE's favor.
The country's high internet penetration rate, the explosion of smartphone ownership over the past decade, and the government's readiness to embrace new technology have transformed nearly every aspect of life in the nation. To foster and support future innovation, Dubai is currently in the process of building the world's first Museum of the Future, a unique incubator for ideas and a destination for inventors and entrepreneurs. It's meant to open in September 2020, though this could be delayed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As more tangible examples, the GCC nation is planning on investing $23 billion in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by 2024, has one of the most advanced e-learning programs in the region, and the fastest internet speed among its neighbors.
Why would Apple miss out on the chance of being part of such an innovative country that only wants to push the boundaries of the future? Here's a question that serves as an answer.