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RIM Starts New Mideast Services after Escaping UAE Ban
Source: ph.news.yahoo.com
Source Date: Monday, October 18, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Knowledge Management in Government
Country: United Arab Emirates
Created: Oct 19, 2010

* New services include e-government and online banking

* RIM's co-CEO makes no reference to avoided ban, solution

* RIM, UAE in strategic tie-up - UAE telecoms authority exec

By Tamara Walid

DUBAI, Oct 18 - Blackberry maker Research In Motion <RIM.TO> <RIM.O> has launched new Middle East services after resolving a row with the United Arab Emirates over data security.

The services include e-government and online banking payment for consumers in the Middle East, Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie told reporters at an industry event in the UAE emirate of Dubai on Monday.

The UAE -- which has half a million BlackBerry users -- this month dropped a threat to suspend BlackBerry services and said it reached a deal with the Canadian smartphone maker in which RIM complied with its regulations.

RIM has been in dispute this year with a number of countries in the Gulf Arab region and elsewhere over its encrypted email and messaging services, which they want to monitor.

It has already reached a deal with the UAE and Saudi Arabia over access, though RIM hasn't given any details of what it has done to resolve the dispute. It remains in talks with India. [ID:nLDE69705A] [ID:nBMA008590] [ID:nN10122755]

"The enormous popularity of BlackBerry Messenger in the Middle East demonstrates the potential for new apps and services in the region," Balsillie told a conference at the event.

"We are excited to build on our success in the region and to deepen our commitment to delivering industry-leading products and services for consumers, businesses and government organisations," said Balsillie.

RIM does not give specific figures for the size of its business in the Middle East but has said it saw some weakness there late in the second quarter due to issues surrounding the potential BlackBerry ban.

The UAE dropped the threat to suspend services -- including BlackBerry Messenger, web-browsing and e-mail -- after saying it would cut off services on Oct. 11 unless RIM worked out a way to locate its encrypted computer servers in the country to grant the government access to data -- the same access it says the United States, Russia and other states have.

Balsillie did not make any references to the ban or how it was resolved.

Mohammed al-Ghanem, director general of the UAE's telecoms regulatory authority, declined to comment on what the solution was or whether it included placing a server in the UAE.

Ghanem told reporters on the sidelines of the event: "RIM is now in compliance with the UAE's telecoms regulations and there is a strategic co-operation between the authority and RIM", adding: "I will not speak about any server".

Ghanem also declined to answer whether UAE authorities required a judiciary request to access data exchanged over BlackBerry devices.

New services and applications RIM's Balsillie announced on Monday included e-government and banking and commerce services via BlackBerry, as well as mobile applications such as BlackBerry App World, an on-device app store for BlackBerry smartphones; and BlackBerry WebWorks.

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