Rumor: Apple to set up a direct presence in Saudi Arabia

With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looking to give the kingdom a high-tech makeover, Apple and Amazon are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, reports Reuters.

Both tech companies already sell products in the kingdom — which has been easing regulatory impediments for the last two years — via third parties, but they have yet to establish a direct presence there. That seems to be changing. 

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Quoting unnamed sources, Reuters says licensing agreement for Apple stores with SAGIA — Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority — is expected by February, with an initial retail store targeted for 2019. Apple already holds second place in the Saudi mobile phone market behind Samsung, according to market researcher Euromonitor.

Amazon’s talks are reportedly in earlier stages and no specific date has been set for investment plans.