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17+ Apps Removed from Saudi and UAE App Stores [censorship]

I noticed recently that updates for some useful apps such as Atomic, iCab Mobile and Skyfire web browsers were not available for download. They only appear if I logged to the US iTunes App Store but when I switch to the Saudi store the apps disappear.

Looking closer I noticed that these apps had the following rating:

You must be at least 17 years old to download this app.

17+ rating in the app store include many apps such as medical apps, web browsers, violent games and more. There are hardly any “pornographic” applications in the app store. Why did they disappear? How can we check?

I checked for another 17+ app: Opera web browser for Mac, here is the US URL of the app:


Which works of course, let’s try swapping US with SA to see if it’s available in the Saudi App Store:


Not available. Let’s try another Middle Eastern country: Qatar.


It’s available, let’s try Kuwait:


Also available. How about the United Arab Emirates:


Not available just like the Saudi App Store! The app is available in almost all other Middle Eastern countries Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.

So Apple has removed all 17+ applications from the Saudi Arabia and UAE App Stores only. Apple wouldn’t have a reason to do so unless a regulatory authority (UAE’s TRA or Saudi’s CITC) has requested that from Apple.

Could this be another mistake just like FaceTime? How will customers who paid for legit apps receive updates?

This is an updated list of useful apps that we can’t get because of this idiotic move:

• Blogsy iPad blogging application

You can find the author of this post on twitter: @khaled.

Arabic version of this post on SaudiMac Arabic Edition.

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Remember to visit We Want Apple Saudi Arabia petition and spread the word.

About Khaled A.


  1. Mohammad Jubeihi

    Because of the sexual content of some Apps that can be only on the +17 Apps . like the sex stories. Apple can’t stop every sex story come up and track it down. So they Block Saudi and UAE Stores from all +17 Apps.  

  2. Well! This is just a continuation of treating people in these countries like 12-year old kids. What the officials in these two countries don’t really understand is that higher ratings don’t always mean sex. Violence and regulations among other things are also involved in these rating systems. It’s exactly the same stunt pulled on us called “Google Safe search” ordinarily used by concerned parents in more civilized countries, and blocking some file hosting websites like megaupload(dot)com when there are millions of similar sites providing the same services. These stunts only affect people who are not looking for what has been called “sex stories” in a previous comment. Now even medical apps are not allowed. Maybe we should prohibit medical books altogether! Let our doctors be specialized in above-the-waist crap (Oh NO! Things have to be blocked up there too!!)
    If officials are genuinely concerned, then how about prohibiting “Showtime/Orbit network” among various “harmful-content-displaying channels” on “Hotbird”; or wait! Maybe there aren’t enough “sex stories” there God forbid!

  3. KSA = Kingdom of Suppressed Arabia.

  4. Can there be any work around solution like creating a new Apple ID with location USA?

    • you can change your location/region to US. go to your account and edit the location. but you need a valid US credit card.


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