FaceTime in the Middle East: The story so far [Updated March 11]
This post will be updated with the latest news regarding the issue so make sure to bookmark it.
• iPhone 4 units with FaceTime disabled have the following model numbers: MC603AE and MC605AE for units sold in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar. MC603AB and MC605AB for units sold in Egypt (and Jordan once it’s available).
• FaceTime works on iPhone 4 units running iOS 4.0.2 but if you update to iOS 4.1 FaceTime will be disabled on these phones.
• FaceTime is available in Tunisia according to Apple Tunisie page.
• iPhone 4 units imported from UK, Hong Kong, Canada etc have no issues with FaceTime. Carrier Settings do not disable FaceTime as far as we know.
• Mobily’s response is mixed: Mobily CEO blames Apple while customer support blames CITC.
• Mobily’s iPhone 4 page and brochures still list FaceTime as a feature. Here’s a photograph of FaceTime being featured on Mobily’s brochure sent to us by Abu Abdulla:
• There’s legal action from a Saudi lawyer to reactivate FaceTime.
• Apple did not officially respond regarding FaceTime being disabled but they did add a note regarding FaceTime in some Middle Eastern countries.
• According to this thread on EmiratesMac iPod touches sold by iStyle in UAE have FaceTime disabled.
• Update: I have posted my theory regarding the reason why Apple disabled FaceTime in Saudi Arabia.
• Update October 19: FaceTime does not work on iPod touch 4G units sold by Arab Computers/Arab Business Machine and carry the model numbers: MC547AB, MC540AB and MC544AB.
• Update October 19: Apple confirmed that by not listing FaceTime as a feature on Middle East iPod touch pages.
• Update October 19: FaceTime coming soon to the Middle East, at least to Qatar and apparently Government policies in Qatar prevented initial FaceTime availability.
• Update October 19: As for Egypt, according to Vodafone Egypt, the country’s NTRA decided to block FaceTime.
• Update October 24: Apple released FaceTime for Mac. It works but you cannot set your country to either Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait or Egypt.
• Update on Jan 15: iOS 4.3: No FaceTime for Middle East.
What do you think? What is the reason for disabling FaceTime in the region? What should we do about it?
Arabic version of this post on SaudiMac Arabic Edition.