DUBAI // Apple's latest iPhone was officially launched last night, but fans in the UAE have been warned they will pay top dollar for one of the handsets in the near future.
The iPhone 5 is expected to fetch up to Dh12,000 when it arrives on the grey market in the UAE.
"It's a simple case of supply and demand," said Sheriff Rizwan, chief executive of the online retailer ALshop.com.
"Certainly for the first 15 days after the release import prices will be very volatile, and I wouldn't be surprised if they hit around Dh12,000."
Crowds gathered at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco last night to see Apple's latest device unveiled.
The new phone is about a fifth slimmer and lighter than the previous version, and has a four-inch screen.
It will use a new chip called the A6, described as offering twice the speed of the existing processor, and features an improved camera, speaker, earpiece and smaller dock connector.
Mr Rizwan said the online shop had contacted its highest spending customers to offer them first choice of the new phones.
"We have about 200 or so premium customers," he said. "These are the people that bought the iPad 2 and 3, as well as the iPhone 4 and 4S.
"All of them said they want to buy the new phone and most of them want the phones with the 64-gigabyte memory."
Mr Rizwan said the company would have the phone within 24 hours of its official release.
Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics, said the official UAE launches of Apple's iPhone 4S and the new MacBook Pros were a few months after those for North America and Europe.
"The supply chain is a lot better now than it was when we had to wait six months for a new iPhone to be officially launched here," Mr Panjabi said.
"In that respect I would imagine most people will probably wait a few weeks after the frenzy has died down and buy when they are at a more reasonable price."
Yasser Sharaf, managing director of Sharaf DG, said he could not give an arrival date for the phone in his shops.
"We will try to get it from Apple directly and, if not, through import versions," Mr Sharaf said.
"The price isn't something we put a hefty mark-up on, it's basically what we get charged from the supplier."
He said the grey-market phones would not be limited in warranty and could come with an international guarantee, meaning owners could go into any Apple shop and have the device checked or replaced if required.
Jamal Ahmed, a Pakistani national who works in finance, said he was determined to buy the new phone as soon as it was released.
"I just love the way they are designed and how easy they are to operate," Mr Ahmed said. "I bought the iPhone 4S as soon as it was released in the US, via import.
"I don't mind paying more to get the phones first because I think they are such a must-have gadget."
Dave Webster, from the UK, said watching Apple unveil its devices had become a tradition for him.
"I've got the new iPad, as well as an iPod and the iPhone 4S, so I'm a bit of an Apple collector, to be honest," said Mr Webster.
"It's frustrating that we don't get the phones immediately in the UAE, but I'm planning a trip back to the UK in a couple of weeks and if it's on sale then, I'll probably buy it."