Back to the future: In the UAE, Symbian and Nokia are still beating the iPhone

In the United Arab Emirates, Nokia still holds sway over the market with an OS it abandoned years ago and a three-year-old feature phone.

It may be one of the richest countries in the world, but in the United Arab Emirates the most-used mobile isn't a high end smartphone – it's an old Nokia candybar.

The Nokia 1280. Image: Nokia

The Nokia 1280, which started shipping in 2010, runs Nokia's low-end feature phone operating system Nokia OS and comes with 22 days of standby time. However, it's still the most-used handset in the UAE, accounting for three percent of all phones used in the country.

Nokia remains the most popular brand overall in the UAE, with one in two phones registered on the country's networks bearing the Finnish company's logo, according to figures released this month by the country's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Nokia's abandoned Symbian operating system is also topping the charts in the UAE, accounting for 50 percent of all mobiles in use — suggesting Nokia hasn't yet managed to translate its dominance of the market into local Lumia sales .

While the second most popular phone behind the 1280 is the iPhone 4S, Apple isn't even close to Nokia's market share. The TRA stats show that BlackBerry and Samsung are joint second behind Nokia, with 11 percent each of all phones registered on UAE networks, while Apple accounts for 8.4 percent of phones in use.

HE Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, said in a statement: "The report provides an interesting snapshot of the UAE's mobile handset market share which has very distinct characteristics in terms of consumer adoption. It also reflects a dynamic ecosystem in which both feature phones and smartphones are emerging as the future growth engines of the telecommunications industry."


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