Skype and FaceTime are two of the most popular services used across the globe for video calls, however, they have been banned in the United Arab Emirates for many years. Even iPhones that are officially sold in the UAE ship without the FaceTime feature. Both services have been illegal in the country for years but Microsoft and Apple might be able to turn this around at last as they’re now in talks with the government over this matter.
UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Director General Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri confirmed to CNBC that Microsoft and Apple are in talks with the government to lift the ban on Skype and FaceTime. The government might consider their request owing to the growing investment plans that these companies have for the UAE as well as its desires to forge stronger relationships with these iconic technology companies.
Skype and FaceTime aren’t the only VoIP services that are banned in the UAE. Popular cross-platform messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber which also allow users to make free voice calls are banned as well.
The ban was essentially placed to protect the telecom sector’s monopoly that is in the hands of the country’s two largest mobile operators, Etisalat and Du. Since people in the UAE aren’t able to use these free services, they have to pay to use the operators’ calling services which are quite expensive.
“We have been working closely with the local authorities towards gaining a better understanding of the local requirements in an effort to get Skype unblocked,” said a spokesperson for Microsoft. Apple hasn’t commented on the talks as yet.