VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services such as WhatsApp calls and Skype could be available in the UAE very soon.
In an interview with CNBC's Capital Connection programme, Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, exective director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, explained: “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.”
“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,” he added.
Currently WhatsApp and Skype calls are unavailable to residents in the UAE, however in 2019, 82% of the UAE’s 9.61 million population used WhatsApp, equating to an impressive 7.88 million users according to data collated by Global Media Insight.
Similarly, Skype has 4.32 million users, making up 45% of the population and making it the third most popular messaging app despite its block.
Both Etisalat and du blocked VoIP services back in late-2017, resulting in the companies releasing their own internet calling services such as C’Me and BOTIM, but even with the block on internet calls, WhatsApp and Skype are two of the three most popular communication apps in the UAE.
Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on internet calls back in 2017. At that time, the country’s internal information ministry said it was to "reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship" so here's hoping the UAE follow suit very soon.