The excitement over the Whatsapp calling feature available now to all Android users of the popular app and soon to be made available for the iOS didn’t last long in the UAE. Etisalat and Du Telecom, the UAE’s primary service providers, have recently announced that the voice calling feature introduced by Whatsapp is blocked in the Emirates.
The popularity of Whatsapp
Whatsapp has found increasing popularity as an app that allows mobile users to message each other without paying for SMS. It is available for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows Phone.
Users of the app can message each other, even across different platforms, send pictures and videos, and even create groups chats. Because the app uses the same Internet data plan that mobile users have for email and web browsing, there is no additional charge for using Whatsapp and messages sent with the app are not regarded as SMS.
In order to compete with Skype and similar services, Whatsapp recently introduced its own VoIP voice calling feature that allows users to speak in real time just like making a normal phone call. While initially available on the Android version of the app, Whatsapp plans to make the feature available for the iOS very soon.
The UAE responds quickly to Whatsapp voice calling feature
The major telecom providers in the UAE were quick to respond to the new voice calling feature introduced by Whatsapp and took measures to block it. The use of VoIP call services in the UAE is illegal. Telecom operators are obligated to scramble the services offered by Skype, BBM Voice, Viber, and similar apps. It was anticipated that telecom operators would swiftly drop the hammer on the Whatsapp voice calling feature.
The biggest objection to the use of VoIP services in the UAE seems to be an economical one. The availability of free voice calling to users of Whatsapp and Skype would put a serious dent in the revenues generated by the UAE’s telecom giants. The CEO of Du Telecom recently addressed this aspect in an interview. Osman Sultan stated that Skype in itself is not blocked for PC-to-PC chats and that the telecom providers know UAE residents use it, but that voice calls with Skype are not permitted because the telecom providers must “protect their own huge investments made in providing call services to residents.” This same philosophy led to the blocking of the Whatsapp voice calling feature. more here.
At the present time the feature is unavailable to Du’s mobile customers, although the company has confirmed that the feature is still functioning on some Wi-Fi networks. Etisalat did not offer a comment, but the older of the two companies also functions under the current UAE telecom regulations and is bound by law to restrict the feature.
Sultan went on to say that Du Telecom is looking for ways to implement VoIP services in a way that economically benefits the telecom companies. This seems to be somewhat contradictory to the overall purpose of VoIP services.
How Do I unblock Whatsapp in the United Arab Emirates?
You can unblock whatsapp voip feature in UAE and to do that you need to sign up for a vpn service here. When connected to the VPN, whatsapp will work normally and you will have the calling feature. How cool is that?
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