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RIM plans to open its first Middle East retail store in Dubai

The BlackBerry phone maker moves forward with a big international push with plans to open retail shops in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and possibly Africa.

With slumping sales in the West, Research In Motion has plans to go to the East. The BlackBerry maker is in the process of opening retail stores throughout the Middle East starting in Dubai, according to Bloomberg.

"We're getting the first one up and running and then we'll be looking at other cities across the Middle East -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar," Sandeep Saihgal, the managing director of RIM's Middle East business, told Bloomberg in an interview earlier this week.

The Dubai store in the United Arab Emirates will be the flagship shop and Bloomberg reports it will be in a 1,500-square-foot space. Additional stores partnering with a local company -- Axiom Telecom -- are also planned across the region.

The relationship between RIM and the UAE has a slightly rocky past. In 2010, during a drawn-out saga, the Middle Eastern government said it would block e-mail, instant messaging, and Web browsing on BlackBerry devices unless RIM came in line with UAE telecommunications regulations. Days before the ban was to be enforced, the two parties reached an agreement.

RIM is reportedly looking to venture into other international regions besides the Middle East, including Asia and Africa, according to Bloomberg. The company announced in February that it was planning to open 4,000 retail outlets in Indonesia and possibly more across Southeast Asia.

There is a much higher demand for BlackBerry phones in these regions than in the West, according to Bloomberg. Shipments of the device to the Middle East and Africa more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with a year prior.