Fresh debate on lifting WhatsApp, Skype call ban in UAE

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Fresh debate on lifting WhatsApp, Skype call ban in UAE

Dubai - Emirati businessmen and celebrities had raised their voice again to end the blockade on VoIP.

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sat 13 Apr 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 14 Apr 2019, 10:26 AM

Debate about lifting the ban on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has erupted again in the UAE following comments of a popular Emirati commentator and columnist.
"It's so frustrating that Skype is banned in the UAE. How are we meant to conduct interviews and meetings? Such a contradiction in 2021 & 2071 Visions goals," said Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, who is a well-known lecturer and researcher on social, political and culture affairs in the Arab Gulf states.
A Twitteratti Yousif said removal of ban on free calling apps is long overdue here.
"Lifting the ban on Skype and FaceTime is really overdue. Also, Internet service at home is mostly monopolised by one provider (Du or Etisalat). Mobily (UAE's Etisalat) changed the game in Saudi market, hope something like that happens in the UAE, or regulator gets involved," Yousif said in a reply to Al Qassemi's tweet.
Emirati businessmen and celebrities had raised their voice time and again to end the blockade on VoIP in a bid to make the Emirates smart and its residents happier.
In September 2018, Dubai-based Emirati billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Al Habtoor Group, had called on the UAE's telecom service providers Etisalat and du to unblock VoIP services so that the UAE residents can make free calls through WhatsApp and Skype.
He had stressed that unblocking VoIP is essential as the UAE strives towards becoming number one in every sector - including telecommunication.
"A lot of people use WhatsApp and Skype call everywhere in the world. (they're) free all over the world except in my country. The telecom companies (in UAE) are blocking it and not allowing it. Therefore, I like to request the management and directors of these companies to release and free the system and enable everybody to enjoy it," the billionaire had said in a video statement.
"We always here in the UAE want to be number one in everything. But why we are lagging as far as communication is concerned. Our and our leaders' aim is to be number one. So I request telecom firms to release (VoIP) for everybody in the UAE everywhere," said Al Habtoor.
The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) maintains that the availability of VoIP is the choice of licensed telecommunication providers - du and Etisalat.
The UAE telecom services providers had launched their own VoIP calling cards which give residents more time for international calls.

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