UAE Extending BlackBerry Ban - TheStreet

Story updated with RIM comment.

WATERLOO, Ontario (


) -- With

Research In Motion


about to launch its eagerly-anticipated

touchscreen BlackBerry

, the phone giant has suffered another setback in the Arabian Gulf as the UAE plans to extend its BlackBerry ban.

This weekend, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that it will

suspend email and browsing services

for RIM's BlackBerry on Oct.11. Citing judicial, social and national security concerns, officials explained that, because BlackBerry data is immediately exported offshore, some Blackberry services operate beyond the enforcement of its regulations.

On Monday, the

Washington Post

and the

Associated Press

reported that the ban will also be extended to all visitors to the country, including those using roaming services on foreign smartphones.

Citing an emailed TRA statement,


explained that the UAE's move will deny BlackBerry services to passengers travelling through Dubai International airport. The busiest airport in the Middle East, Dubai International is an important transit hub, and handled 41 million passengers last year.

The business implications of the UAE's decision could be significant and could mean denying an important communication link to millions of business travelers and tourists. The Emirates contain two of the region's key business centers: Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The conservative desert kingdom is also home to a significant expat population.

The oil-rich UAE, however, is not the only Gulf state clamping down on BlackBerry services. Saudi Arabia will reportedly

start blocking the BlackBerry messaging service later this month.

Investors were clearly digesting RIM's BlackBerry travails during Monday trading. The


(AAPL) - Get Report

rival's stock was down 94 cents, or 1.63%, to $56.59 shortly after market open, despite a broader rally in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq gain 1.78%.

Computer maker RIM appeared to shrug off the UAE's concerns in a statement emailed to


, citing the company's reputation for security.

"RIM operates in over 175 countries today and provides a security architecture that is widely accepted by security conscious customers and governments around the world," explained a RIM spokesman. "RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers."

RIM is expected to launch its new touchscreen slider phone at a glitzy New York event on Tuesday.

RIM Readies New BlackBerry, Should Apple be Worried? >>

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

Follow James Rogers on