Dubai: BlackBerry could be used for spying; ban set for Oct. 11th

Just after placating fears from the Saudi Arabian government about their smartphones’ usage by criminals and terrorists, BlackBerry makers Research In Motion are feeling the heat from another Arab government: this time that of the United Arab Emirates.

U.A.E. officials worry that countries like Israel, the U.S. and her allies could use the phone for espionage, and have declared that service will be blocked starting October 11 — unless RIM decides to allow the Emirati government access to encrypted information . According to The Associated Press:

Dubai’s police chief, Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, said that fears of espionage and information sharing by foe Israel — as well as U.A.E. allies United States and Britain — helped prompt the threatened limits on the popular BlackBerry.

Tamim told a conference on information technology that the proposed BlackBerry curbs are also “meant to control false rumours and defamation of public figures due to the absence of surveillance,” according to a story posted Friday on the website of the UAE newspaper Al-Khaleej.

U.A.E. officials reportedly are still in talks with the BlackBerry’s maker, Waterloo, Ont., Research in Motion Ltd. Tamim’s comments, however, point to a hard line by Emirates security chiefs, who are demanding access to BlackBerry data.

The U.A.E. has been positioning herself for years as an oasis of free enterprise and prosperity in the often repressive Middle East. But with over 500,000 local BlackBerry subscribers, and countless foreign visitors using RIM’s flagship phone line visiting the country every year, will this restriction turn into one that ultimately hurts further growth of this supercharged economy?

Let’s hear from you, Techvibes readers; do you conduct business in the U.A.E.? Will this stop you from doing business there in the future? Or do you live or work there already and have feelings about this development? The floor is yours!