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BlackBerry Rebounds After UAE Ban Scare

A sign advertising the BlackBerry mobile phone for all is seen at a shopping mall in Dubai (File)

BlackBerry developer Research In Motion has launched a number of new services in the Middle East, exactly one week after certain functions of the smart phone were to be banned in the UAE.

Speaking at an industry event in Dubai, RIM co-chief Jim Balsillie said the new features include e-government and online banking payment for customers in the region.

The announcement follows a long-running dispute between the company and the UAE over safety concerns.

Authorities in the Emirates originally said BlackBerry Messenger, e-mail and web-browser functions could jeopardize national security because they could not be monitored and threatened to prohibit them unless an agreement with RIM was reached before October 11.

On October 8, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority lifted the proposed ban, but details remain vague.

Balsillie did not clarify things in Dubai.

"I am thrilled and delighted to be here and so excited about the progress that BlackBerry has made in the UAE and especially Dubai," he said.

Balsillie went on to say that RIM believes Dubai could emerge as a leader in the "mobile services evolution" taking place around the world.

"We are sincerely and genuinely excited about this market. We are committed to it, we are investing in it and every indication that I have seen, the investments and capabilities and solutions and regulatory approaches, positions you [Dubai] to be a hub of applications and advanced services to really where the whole world is going," said Balsillie.

The Deputy Director of the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, His Excellency Majid Sultan Al Mesmar suggested recently the country has reached a permanent solution with RIM.

"The TRA has declared that if RIM fulfills the obligation of the UAE, the service will continue. Today, the service is running. What does it mean?" Asked Al Mesmer.

Reports suggest there are half a million BlackBerry users in the UAE.