Why blocking Blackberries will only worsen the building industry’s woes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi - Stephen Fidler, managing director, Exacta Consulting

As usual, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Nokia phones may heavily dominate sales in the Middle East, but it’s Blackberries that really do the talking in the business - and construction - world and that’s why the news of imminent service curbs in the UAE has reverberated quickly around the globe.

Despite the downturn in the construction industry, the UAE remains an important geographical foothold in the region for many international companies.  The universal appeal and success of the Blackberry easily makes it the device of choice in the industry and that means it is standard issue for both management and operational staff here.

The precise details of the impending ban remain sketchy, but from what can be gleaned so far, every one of Blackberry’s main arteries is getting cut this October – browsing, messenger and email.  And the double-whammy for businesses in the UAE is that their visitors and customers arriving from overseas won’t have any privileged access either.

The day after the news broke Etisalat and du, the countries only providers, immediately launched full-page adverts in all the major broadsheets advising customers of the impending service changes and their options which include…wait for it…free handset swaps to the iPhone 4 and you guessed it, Nokia smartphones. That made clear how seriously they’re taking the threat of the ban.

For an industry still adjusting to the slowdown in local business it’s time for yet more head-scratching and pondering.  No matter what freebies are thrown in, a future without Blackberry will undoubtedly cause disruption, distraction and more unforeseen costs for construction businesses at a time when it least needs it. 

That’s why a speedy resolution to the problem behind the threatened ban - stand-off between RIM in Canada and the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority - is vital. Hm, now Blackberry messaging would be a great platform for that dialogue, no? I mean it’s fast, free and offers the chance to keep the negotiations friendly by throwing in a few smileys, ROTFL’s, (rolling on the floor laughing , I just googled it)… or maybe not! Still, lets hope Blackberry survives in the UAE and long may it live…