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WhatsApp Calls in Dubai: Everything You Need To Know (2024)

In this blog post, I will share with you the latest information on WhatsApp calls in the UAE.

4 minute read

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I remember my first visit to Dubai on New Year's Eve in 2019, like it was yesterday. After buying a tourist SIM card, I tried to call my family through WhatsApp, I was disappointed to find that the calls would not go through. At first, I thought it was just network congestion, but after several days of failed attempts, I set out to research. What I discovered was quite surprising - not only WhatsApp calls in Dubai are banned, but also other VoIP services such as FaceTime, Viber, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.


In this blog post, I will share with you the latest information on WhatsApp calls in the UAE. I will discuss the reasons behind the restrictions, suggest alternative applications for internet calling, explain how to unblock WhatsApp calls and highlight the potential risks of using VPNs. So, sit back and let me take you on a journey to discover the ins and outs of internet calling in UAE.


Red Banned Sign on WhatsApp Logo
Whatsapp Calls in Dubai are Banned

Why WhatsApp Calls in Dubai are Banned?

The Dubai government has provided an explanation for why WhatsApp and other VoIP calls are prohibited in the city - citing security as the main reason. However, during my one year of residing in Dubai, I have heard additional justifications beyond this:


Security Monitoring

For safety reasons, Dubai intends to monitor VOIP calls. However, companies such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Apple may not approve due to privacy concerns. This could lead to them not operating in the country. The UAE’s Telecommunications And Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) maintains:

“VoIP services are still a prerogative of the licensed providers who reserve the right to provide such services through their networks. TDRA, at its sole discretion, may provide a VoIP exemption approval to allow VoIP applications in the UAE, taking into consideration the users and market demands and needs.”

Duopoly

In Dubai, there are only two companies registered to provide telecommunication services: Du (in partnership with Virgin Mobile UAE) and Etisalat. Despite the prohibition of most voice calling apps, the majority of the UAE’s population relies on billed services. As a result, they are creating a vast market for telecommunication firms. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates receives 5% in taxes from this industry.


To Attract Investors

Some believe that Dubai has banned VoIP services with the aim of promoting telecom services from companies like Microsoft, which is expected to create more job opportunities.


Video Calling Apps That Work in UAE

If you're wondering how to video call in the UAE, then below is a list of currently available VoIP applications permitted in the country.


Botim

This is my go-to internet calling app in Dubai. It has all the same features as WhatsApp without restrictions. All my friends and family from all over the world are forced to use this to stay in touch with me.

Botim app on Android, iPhone, Mac or PC
Download Botim app on your Android, iPhone, Mac, or PC

GoChat

Etisalat’s voice and video call app without the need for a subscription.


Voico

UAE residents can download the app for voice and video calls on desktop and mobile devices.


Zoom

The most popular work-from-home app in UAE.


Microsoft Teams

Have one-on-one conversations using audio, video, chat, and screen-sharing features. Download the app on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.


Google Meet

Free video conferencing app available for download on desktop, iOS, and Android platforms. Its usage has significantly increased among individuals and businesses in the UAE. Can be used for meetings only.


Skype for Business

The free download includes instant messaging (IM), audio and video calls, online meetings, presence information, and sharing capabilities.


And Many More

Blackboard, Cisco Webex, Avaya Spaces, BlueJeans, Slack, Etisalat Cloud Talk Meeting, Matrx, Totok, Empay, Sanad, Comera.


How to Unblock WhatsApp in Dubai?

There are limited ways to unlock WhatsApp in Dubai, but the easiest solution is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts traffic, making it impossible to track its origin.


VPNs to unlock Whatsapp in Dubai


NordVPN

A speedy and privacy-conscious VPN with a huge server network that can unblock WhatsApp in Dubai and the UAE. It includes advanced security features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Surfshark

The top VPN for WhatsApp calling in the UAE, with unlimited connections, fast speeds, and high security, is Surfshark.


ExpressVPN

Services are both fast and reliable, and they prioritize the safety and confidentiality of their client’s information with exceptional security measures.


Risks of using VPN in UAE

The TDRA is responsible for determining what kind of content should be prohibited and inaccessible in the UAE. Any online material that goes against the country’s values, safety, or regulations is strictly forbidden. This includes activities like accessing blocked websites, sharing inappropriate images, spreading false news, disclosing private information, dealing with drugs, hacking, and promoting violence or hatred. It is important to note that using a VPN to bypass blocked content is also prohibited in the UAE.


What is the Punishment for Using a VPN in UAE?

If you're caught using a personal VPN in the UAE, you could face serious consequences. This includes heavy fines and, if you're just visiting, you might even be sent back to your home country.


Summary


To sum up, Dubai is a center of modernity and innovation, but it has specific regulations and guidelines, particularly for internet calling. WhatsApp and other VoIP services are still limited due to different reasons, such as security concerns and economic interests. Nevertheless, there are authorized options for residents and visitors to remain connected. If you're thinking of using a VPN to avoid these limitations, it is important to be careful, as there are severe penalties for breaching the rules. Always keep yourself informed and follow the local laws to have a trouble-free experience in the UAE.




Have you ever had trouble making WhatsApp calls in Dubai? We'd love to hear your perspective! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2 Comments

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Guest
Sep 24, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I was wondering why whatsapp calls are not working in Dubai.

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Kaspar Hang
Kaspar Hang
Sep 25, 2023
Replying to

I hope this blog post about making internet calls on WhatsApp in the UAE provided the answer you sought.

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