Al Habtoor Group chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor is urging the UAE’s mobile carriers to end their ban on WhatsApp calls, saying that he believes the ban contributes to the country lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of communication.
Al Habtoor recently posted a video to Twitter with the caption: “In a country like UAE, where we aim to always be pioneers in all we do, #WhatsAppCall should not [be] banned when it is accessible everywhere else in the world. I urge mobile carriers in the UAE to lift the ban.”
In the UAE, the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has previously said that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) must meet its licensing requirements.
At the moment, both du and Etisalat only offer C’Me and BOTIM VoIP services, saying that other VoIP services – includes WhatsApp and Skype – are unauthorised.
"In the United Arab Emirates, we always aim to be number one in anything. Why are we in the back as far as communications are concerned? We have to be parallel to our requirement and to our aim, to be number one,” Al Habtoor said in the video.
In June, remarks similar to those of Al Habtoor were made by Habib Al Mulla, the founder and chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla law firm, which tweeted he believes that the “monopolistic attitudes” of the UAE’s telecom companies are hindering Dubai’s goals of becoming a highly interconnected ‘smart city’.
Internet calling apps were also banned in neighbouring Saudi Arabia before the ban was lifted in September 2017.