“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,” Katie Paul reports for Reuters. “A third source confirmed that Apple was in talks with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority. Both companies already sell products in Saudi Arabia via third parties but they and other global tech giants have yet to establish a direct presence.”

“Amazon’s discussions are being led by cloud computing division Amazon Web Services (AWS), which would introduce stiff competition in a market currently dominated by smaller local providers like STC and Mobily,” Paul reports. “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.”

“Apple already holds second place in the Saudi mobile phone market behind Samsung, according to market researcher Euromonitor,” Paul reports. “While Saudi reform plans call for luring foreign investment broadly across sectors, officials have courted Silicon Valley players especially strongly over the past two years to complement their high-tech ambitions. Prince Mohammed is an avowed technophile and has styled himself a disrupter in the model of Steve Jobs… ”

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MacDailyNews Take: Much change is now occurring in Saudi Arabia.

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SoftBank and Saudi Arabia settled their differences to create world’s biggest tech fund; $100 billion fund has won Apple’s commitment – May 19, 2017
Saudi retailer announces opening of first Apple stores – December 20, 2014
Apple cleared to operate and market products in Saudi Arabia – May 22, 2014
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulah conducts his business via Apple’s revolutionary iPad 3G – September 6, 2010
Mobily signs up 25,000 Saudi iPhone 3G subscribers within hours of launch – February 23, 2009