DUBAI // They queued from 8am and their thirst was kept at bay with regular supplies of water and coffee before the big event.
But these people weren't waiting for a royal wedding - they were in line to get their hands on the iPad 2, which made its official debut in the UAE yesterday after only being available at inflated, grey-market prices previously.
At the Virgin Megastore in Mall of the Emirates, about 50 people queued up for the start of sales at 10am. Staff handed out bottles of mineral water and free cups of coffee to those in line.
Darren Woods, a UAE-based Briton who works in the construction industry, was second in the queue with his two young children.
"We're buying the 32-gigabyte Wi-Fi iPad," Mr Woods said. "It's for the family to use but it's going to end up being a toy for the kids more than anything."
The cheapest 16GB Wi-Fi model costs Dh2,149 (US$585) - $86 more than the US price but more than Dh1,000 cheaper than when it first became available here, albeit unofficially.
The tablet boasts a faster processor, two cameras and a slimmer design than the previous model, and comes in Wi-Fi only or 3G variations, with varying memory capacities.
Arya Aghaei arrived at Virgin at 8.20am and picked out a white 32 Gigabyte Wi-Fi iPad 2, costing Dh2,549.
"I woke up especially early to make sure I could get one," the teenager said. "I held a place in the line for my friends who are also buying iPads today."
His friends, Kavian and Shayan Rassolpour, arrived at the store at 9am. For Kavian, this was his 14th birthday present that carried over from last November, when he told his parents he wanted the new iPad when it launched. His elder brother Shayan had been shopping around in the grey market since the iPad 2 arrived in Dubai last month.
"The most basic iPad 2, the 16 Gigabyte Wi-Fi one, was Dh7,000 on the grey market," he said. "It was just too expensive. I preferred to wait until now and pay much less for a better one. It didn't make any sense to buy it at those prices."
By late yesterday afternoon, sales staff at Virgin said the iPad was on its way to being sold out.