DUBAI// Excitement is building among Apple enthusiasts in the UAE as they count down the hours until the announcement of the new iPad 3 tomorrow.
Rumours and speculation about the new tablet computer has been steadily building for months, and fans are likely to get their first glimpse of it during an official unveiling by Apple chiefs in San Francisco on Wednesday evening.
Consumers in the UAE say they cannot wait for the new gadget, which is expected to have a much more powerful processor and a higher resolution 'Retina' screen similar to the iPhone 4.
"I have the iPad 2, but I will definitely buy the new one when it comes out," said Muddassir Ali, a Pakistani national who works in IT.
"The big thing for me is going to be the high-def screen. I think it will make it much better to read books and surf the web."
Many iPad fans are so eager to get hold of the product, which promises to have latest in cutting edge technology, they are willing to pay huge premiums through grey market imports in the UAE.
Last year, an imported 3G 64GB iPad 2 cost Dh7,000, compared to the Dh3,044 shoppers paid for the same model upon its release in the United States.
"I"m really excited about the announcement of the new iPad and I will definitely be getting one," said Mohammad Zaher, a Syrian who works in advertising in Dubai.
He already owns both previous versions of the tablet but says he will buy the new one as soon as it's released.
"I have family in the US and visit there quite often," he said.
"I'll probably order it from there and get it delivered to an uncle from where I can get it shipped over here."
He said it worked out much cheaper to buy directly from the US rather than within the UAE on the grey market.
"The most important thing for me is how fast it's going to be and I hope the camera is of a better quality."
He said he will give his two older iPads away to family members rather than trying to sell them.
According to online blogs and technology websites, there are strong rumours the iPad 3 will feature a 2048-by-1536 pixel display and an upgraded dual-core or even quad-core processor.
Thomas Shambler, editor of Stuff magazine, said he expected the tablet to also pack a 9.7in screen and a five megapixel camera.
"A whole new design is also rumoured, but we don't think Apple will be too quick to change what many consider to be one of the best looking tablets around," he added.
A member of staff at the Apple shop in Virgin at Mall of Emirates, who did not wish to be identified, said they had slashed prices on their existing stock of iPad 2s by around Dh100.
"We still have some stock but we're expecting it to reduce before the new iPad 3 comes out," he said.
"The iPad 2s are still proving popular with customers because for most people it has everything they need. But this is also the same thing we saw last year. The older models are still good sellers."
Mahendra Asarpota, general manager of Souq.com, said the demand for iPad 2s had reduced as buyers await the launch of the iPad 3.
"We are expecting a price drop on iPad 2 by Dh300 for the 16GB models, and a drop of Dh700 to Dh800 on the upper segment (i.e. 64 GB WIFI)," he said.
"The prices for the iPad 2 have always been competitive on Souq.com and we have been selling it within a price range of Dh1,780 to Dh1,800, while the offline prices are above Dh2,000.
"We are all excited to see the new iPad."