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BlackBerry wins UAE reprieve; looming ban halted

Fri, 10/08/2010 - 12:20am
The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The United Arab Emirates backed off a threat to cut key services on BlackBerry smart phones Friday, just days before the ban was set to take effect.

The Gulf federation, home to the region's business hub and largest airport in Dubai, was planning to shut off BlackBerry messaging, e-mail and Web browsing services Monday.

Half a million local users and travelers with foreign BlackBerrys would have been affected.

The Emirates telecommunications regulator confirmed that a deal had been reached with device maker Research in Motion Ltd. that brought the devices into compliance with local laws.

"All Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur" as planned Monday, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.

It wasn't clear what concessions, if any, the Canadian device maker made to avert the ban.

But the TRA, which has provided few details of what it is seeking, acknowledged "the positive engagement and collaboration of Research In Motion (RIM) in reaching this regulatory compliant outcome."

The wording of the statement suggested the reprieve was permanent.

TRA representatives were not available for comment Friday, the start of the local weekend. RIM didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

Emirati authorities had threatened to shut off BlackBerry messaging, e-mail and Web browsing services partly because of security concerns.

The ban would have affected some 500,000 users locally and any outsiders using the smart phones in the Middle East business hub.

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