x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Muted response as iTunes finally launches in UAE

After a nine-year wait, people in the UAE can download music from Apple's iTunes Store - but will it be a hit?

Apple is finally set to launch iTunes in the UAE.
Apple is finally set to launch iTunes in the UAE.

DUBAI // Music fans are finally able to buy albums and songs from Apple’s iTunes Store, following yesterday’s launch of the service in the UAE and other Arabian Gulf countries.

It comes more than nine years after the online music store opened in the US.

However, customers in the region still will not be able purchase movies or TV shows, which users in the US and many other countries have been able to do for years.

A selection of classic books can be downloaded for free, but paid-for titles are not available.

Apple announced the launch on its UAE website, saying: “The iTunes Store has arrived. Now you can shop at the world’s No 1 music store.”

Users in the Gulf were previously able to buy and download apps through iTunes, but not songs.

The UAE was one of more than 50 countries in which the music service was launched yesterday, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and India. It can be accessed using Apple devices or PCs.

The UAE store offers a mixture of Arab and western music. The Lebanese singer, Nancy Ajram, is among the artists showcased on the home page, while others whose work is available include Fairuz, Khaled Fuad and Melhem Zein.

Western artists featured include Rihanna, Swedish House Mafia and Bruno Mars.

The cost of albums varies, with some priced at Dh17.99, some at Dh22.99 and others at Dh27.99. Individual songs cost Dh4.49 each. Both new releases and older material is available.

The launch follows a major redesign of iTunes, the Apple software used to store, organise and play music.

Reaction on Twitter was muted. Amarjeet Kapoor tweeted: “So UAE gets iTunes store too but limited stuff. Why am I not surprised?” A user called Ms Castle said simply: “This iTunes UAE store is sad.”