RIM dodges UAE ban starts new services

Blackberry maker Research In Motion 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, Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive, said on Monday.

The UAE, which has half a million BlackBerry users, has 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.

"The enormous popularity of BlackBerry Messenger in the Middle East demonstrates the potential for new apps and services in the region," said Balsillie.

"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."

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 11 October 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 say how the ban threat had been overcome.

Mohammed al-Ghanem, director general of the UAE's telecoms regulatory authority, said: "RIM is now in compliance with the UAE's telecoms regulations and there is a strategic co-operation between the authority and RIM. I will not speak about any server."

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