The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) denied rumors about the lifting of ban on WhatsApp calls in the UAE following claims of several users of the application that they were able to access the service.
“What is being shared on social media about enabling WhatsApp VoIP services on UAE Wi-Fi internet is incorrect,” TRA told Gulf News.
The rumors reportedly surfaced after a businessman in the Gulf state posted a video of his plea for the government to lift the ban on voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology which allows individuals to make calls over the internet.
Currently, WhatsApp users are only able to use WhatsApp for text-based messaging. Other applications such as Skype and Facetime are also banned in the country.
Despite this, TRA earlier confirmed that they are in talks with technology and software giants Microsoft and Apple, with the goal of making Skype and FaceTime accessible in the UAE.
Arabic newspaper Al Ittihad reported that TRA Director General Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri said that there are still ongoing discussions regarding the potential lifting of the ban on some VoIP apps in the country.
Al Mansouri added that the UAE and the two technology firms have a strong relationship, and that they are planning on expanding in the country.
He said that Microsoft has launched two data centers in the UAE, one in Dubai and another in Abu Dhabi, while Apple has opened three official stores in the country – the ones in Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Yas mall.
While VolP apps are banned in the country, Etisalat and du offer Botim and C’Me as an alternative for Skype and other VolP apps. Users can experience unlimited calls and chat using these apps after they avail the telecom providers’ Internet Calling Pack for Dh50 or Dh100.