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Iranian Apps Cut by Apple Over Sanctions

On a Saturday in mid-August, Iranian entrepreneur Mehdi Nayebi received an email from Apple’s App Store Review stating that his application, AloPeyk, a delivery service in Tehran, had been removed due to sanctions put in place by the U.S. government.

He wasn’t the only one. About a dozen other Iran-focused apps, including Delion Foods, a meals delivery startup, online store Digikala, Bamilo, an e-commerce marketplace, and ride-hailing app Snapp, were also similarly removed, according to Nayebi, and Delion’s co-founder Mahdi Taghizadeh.

“We got removed from App Store overnight, without any sort of warning,” Nayebi said. “We had just published a new version with enormous improvements. When users woke up the next morning, they saw the app is not available anymore.”

AloPeyk tried to appeal the decision, but instead received an email from Apple, citing trade sanctions enforced by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to Nayebi.

Users can still access the apps on their phones, but cannot download or update from the App Store. Nayebi’s team scrambled to create a version for the iPhone’s web browser that would function similarly to an app, circumventing the removal.

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