DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The UAE said Sunday it will block key features on BlackBerry smart phones, citing national security concerns because the devices operate beyond the government's ability to monitor their use. Officials in neighboring Saudi Arabia indicated it planned to follow suit.
The decision could prevent hundreds of thousands of users in the Mideast country from accessing e-mail and the Web on the handsets starting in October, putting the federation's reputation as a business-friendly commercial and tourism hub at risk.
BlackBerry data is encrypted and routed overseas, and the measure could be motivated in part by government fears that the messaging system might be exploited by terrorists or other criminals who cannot be monitored by the local authorities.
However, analysts and activists also see it as an attempt to more tightly control the flow of information in the conservative country, a US ally that is home to the Gulf business capital Dubai and the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi.