The UAE has quietly removed the ban on the voice and video call features of instant messaging application WhatsApp.
The lifting of the ban is welcome news to expats in the UAE, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who will now have an alternative medium to communicate with their families back home.
The government and WhatsApp did not release an official statement announcing the availability of the voice and video call features in the country, but users said they can now get in touch with their families via video and voice call when connected to mobile roaming or WiFi network, Gulf News reported.
Users said WhatsApp’s video and voice call features are available using du or Etisalat networks within the UAE and abroad.
“What a surprise. I am so happy that I can now make free calls and video chats on Whatsapp. I thought this was banned in the UAE. I hope the telecom operators will not discontinue this,” Gulf News quoted a Filipino expat named Rachel as saying.
WhatsApp launched the video calling service in November 2016, but it was restricted in the UAE.
This prompted WhatsApp users in the UAE to limit the mobile application usage merely for instant messaging.
“Voice calls through WhatsApp are blocked in compliance with the UAE’s telecommunication regulations that allow VoIP services to be provided in the country only by licensed telecom operators,” du said in a statement last year.
The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority said in a report earlier this year that 97 percent of the UAE’s population consider WhatsApp as their favorite social media platform, followed by Facebook and YouTube.
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