As UAE expats, we have gotten used to downloading a dozen apps to talk to our family back home, but we may soon put these days behind us. According to a top cyber security official, the UAE may be in the process of lifting the ban on WhatsApp calls – best news ever!!
The Emirates has been collaborating with giant tech companies like Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) trying to tackle issues regarding national security. This news was announced in an CNBC interview with Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, the executive director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority.
“The collaboration with WhatsApp has actually increased, and in many of those (projects) we saw a very good understanding (from them) of the concept we have referring to the Gulf country’s approach to telecoms regulation.”
“There might be a lift of that ban for WhatsApp voice calls and this is going to happen soon, this is what we know and understand from the telecommunication authority here in the UAE,” said Kuwaiti.
Several communication platforms and apps like FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp call are banned in the UAE, due to the country’s Voice of Internet Policy (VoIP). The only way for expats to video call their family abroad is through apps like Botim, HiU Messenger, C’Me and Yzer, which are provided through the country’s telecome provides, Etisalat and Du. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, who had similar laws, lifted their ban on online calls in 2017.
This isn’t the first time that the lifting of the ban has been discussed. Earlier this year, Gulf News reported that UAE officials have been discussing the idea of Smart Dubai, which will see the full lift of VoIP restrictions in the UAE. Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General of the Smart Dubai Office said, “When it comes to telecommunications, we are working very closely with our strategic partners and the telecommunication industry to understand with them how we can lift these kinds of restrictions to boost our economy more.”
Can’t wait for an official announcement!
Images: Instagram, lead image: @karenwazen