tim cook

Following his trip to Ireland last week, Tim Cook was spotted at several electronics outlets in the United Arab Emirates this weekend. The CEO posed for pictures while visiting malls in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The reason for his visit is unknown, but a UAE-based newspaper is reporting that Cook also met with UAE Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other officials while in the region…

MacRumors believes the Cook’s visit could be related to plans for an Apple Store opening in Abu Dhabi:

“The reason for Cook’s visit is unknown, but Apple users in the region are unsurprisingly speculating that he may be meeting with relevant parties about the possibility of an Apple retail store. MacRumors received an unconfirmed tip last year claiming that Apple was making plans to open a major store at The Galleria in Sowwah Square in Abu Dhabi, a luxury mall that opened late last year, but no additional reports of such a project have yet surfaced. 

And here’s the report from UAE newspaper Khaleej Times on Cook’s visit with government officials:

“Shaikh Mohammed and Cook discussed an array of issues regarding future of the IT sector in the backdrop of international transformations and the sector’s role in developing and advancing education.”

It’s not hard to speculate on what Cook was doing in the UAE. While Apple has many resellers in the area, it lacks an official retail presence. And many think that a flagship Apple Store would do well in the region.

His motivation could also be a potential education deal, similar to the one Apple is said to be working on with Turkey, involving a large number of iPads. That deal, for example, is said to be worth some $4 billion.

Top image via Virgin Megastore