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BlackBerry ban: Is UAE trying to crack down on Dubai's wild ways?

BlackBerry ban coming to the UAE is intended to improve security after Dubai's 'Wild West' ways came under scrutiny after a brash assassination earlier this year.

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500,000 BlackBerry users braced for a ban

Meanwhile, businesspeople and personal BlackBerry users alike are bracing for the worst. The UAE’s 500,000 BlackBerry users make up some 11 percent of the cellphone market in the Gulf nation. Additionally, the ban would also affect anyone visiting the UAE with a BlackBerry.

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As a sort of modern-day Casablanca – a hub of global trade, financial transactions, intrigue – that welcomes 100,000 people to its airport each day, the ban could have significant reach.

“My colleagues and I use our BlackBerrys quite frequently, specifically because we travel in the UAE but also throughout the Middle East, so something like global roaming on BlackBerrys is very important,” says Josh Mathew, a strategy consultant based in Dubai. “There would have to be some sort of mobile e-mail service, there wouldn’t be a choice” to switch to a new smartphone if the ban goes into effect.

The cost and hassle of switching to a new phone is a source of serious consternation for many BlackBerry users in the UAE. If the ban becomes a reality, BlackBerrys in the UAE would go from smartphones to a basic cellphone handset.

Those who wanted a phone with Internet capabilities would have to buy new smartphones and potentially get a new service plan – which as one blogger wrote on the UAE Community Blog, would mean "forking over yet another ton of money to Etisalat and du [two local cell phone service providers] once again."