The UAE and regional media were given a tour of Apple’s first-ever store in the country and the region on Tuesday morning.
While Apple declined to provide the exact size of the store, a spokesperson did confirm to Emirates 24|7 that, contrary to rumours, this wasn’t Apple’s largest store.
For the record, London’s Covent Garden store is still the world’s largest Apple Store, occupying three floors totalling 40,000 square feet.
Opening of UAE Apple Stores on Thursday will be a record
The UAE does have its own bragging rights – when the Dubai and Abu Dhabi stores open their doors for public this Thursday, they will mark the first time Apple would have opened two stores in the same country outside the US on the same day.
The first time it happened was when the iPhone-maker opened its first two Apple Stores ever – in Virginia and California.
And while the legendary Steve Jobs led the media contingent for a tour of the Virginia store, in Dubai it was Wendy Beckman, Apple’s Head of Retail – Europe and Middle East, who did the honours.
“The last time this happened (two Apple Stores opening in the same country on the same day), it was in the US, and they were our stores numbers 1 and 2,” said Beckman.
Earlier this month, Apple chose the Islamic New Year (October 15) to announce the opening dates for two Apple Stores in the UAE.
Inside Apple Store Dubai
At 11am on Tuesday, the huge 16ft glass doors of Apple Store in Dubai opened to a loud applause by Apple staff, marking the first time that non-Apple personnel were walking into the outlet.
Beckman told mediapersons that the staff manning the UAE stores were experienced, with many being Apple employees for several years, and with most having received training in Europe and the US.
“We are so excited to bring the Apple retail experience to the UAE,” she said. “We will be opening two stores (on Thursday) – one in Abu Dhabi in Yas Mall and this one here in the Mall of the Emirates,” she added.
“Between the two stores, there will be 150 employees who speak 40 different languages and come from 30 different nationalities,” Beckman said.
And while Apple did not officially confirm whether it was looking to hire more staff for its stores, it listed a number of fresh vacancies on Tuesday for its UAE stores, including for the positions of ‘Creative’, ‘Genius’ , ‘Expert’ and ‘Specialist’, among many others.
“We’ve been doing business here for over 30 years, and our products are hugely popular,” said Beckman during the media initiation speech.
Interestingly, the Dubai store has 10 trees in it, and two living walls that have a variety of small plants growing on them.
“The design was accomplished in partnership with Foster + Partners, the same design firm that is also designing our new Apple campus in Cupertino, California,” said Beckman.
Besides retailing Apple’s full range of devices, the UAE Apple Stores also retail third-party (Apple-endorsed) products such as iPhone cases and headphones.
The UAE Apple Stores are also the only ones right now to have the display pods with touch-enabled charging and Internet stations.
“We’re really excited as these stores are really an extension into the community, and the community of the UAE is incredible – it’s creative, it’s innovative, it’s just thriving enterprises,” she noted.
“We’ll be offering our signature services that we offer all over the world,” said Beckman, adding that some of those included personal set-up of devices, free workshops and Genius Bar appointments.
In keeping with local tradition, the UAE will be the first country where Apple is offering ‘ladies-only’ workshops, she said.