Dubai takes a step back in to the Internet dark ages with Skype ban.


Jan 4th

Both Etisalat and Du telecom, the two providers of telecoms communication within the UAE have blocked the use of Skype and other VoIP software.

Users report that pretty much all VoIP technology has been blocked, including Discord, TeamSpeak, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Whatsapp. As WebEx and Zoom meetings also use VoIP, one would assume these are also illegal under the ban.

Etisalat responded to the blocks with the following comment “The access to the Skype App is blocked since it is providing unlicensed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Service, which falls under the classification of prohibited contents as per the United Arab Emirates’ Regulatory Framework.”

The United Arab Emirates population is over 9 million, but nearly 8 million of those are expats that want to communicate with family at home. There had also been a trend over the years for companies to setup base in Dubai, as it is well connected via one of the largest airports on the planet and has an extremely favourable tax regime for both companies and employees, to do business internationally. This is severely hampered by the fact common business applications used for online meetings would use VoIP, which is now blocked. Not to mention employees would want to communicate with their loved ones back home.

Of course Skype and other online communication platforms have always used VoIP, so why the block is applied now is a mystery. Both communication providers have produced their own approved VoIP application, BOTIM & C’Me, for a monthly fee, but if course anyone outside of UAE is unlikely to have or use these applications, which means you will likely pay a monthly fee to talk to yourself.

Fortunately there are other options for international businesses, regional rival Qatar also has a world renowned airline, extremely tax friendly environment, is about to host the Soccer World cup and has no such block on critical communication platforms.

It seems UAE has scored an own goal in this instance, one that will make regional rivals cheer with delight, Dubai property owners groan in pain and seriously who would want to visit for 2020 Expo when you know you will be on a communication blackout the entire time you are there?

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