The United Arab Emirates has taken the bold step of banning the use of most Blackberry services, citing security concerns, while Saudi Arabia has clamped down on the use of the Blackberry Instant Messaging service.
From 11 October, Blackberry email, internet services and Blackberry Instant Messenger will all cease in the UAE, while the Saudi ban will begin later this month. The actions will affect over a million RIM users.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that the Indian government is considering a ban as well.
The Gulf States are concerned that they are unable to monitor communications as all Blackberry’s services are encrypted and run through RIM servers overseas.
The United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has expressed fears that users could act “without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns" - though some analysts see this as an attempt at moral censorship.
An announcement on the TRA’s web site said that the ban would remain in place, “until these Blackberry applications are in full compliance with UAE regulations”, which suggests that it will lift the ban if there is some kind of compromise or agreement.
RIM returned an inquiry from TrustedReviews with this response. "RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers. RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government however RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments."
Unless something changes soon though, it looks as though buying a Nokia or iPhone will be a better bet in these Gulf States.