There are tens of apps, probably more, that have a chat function and the ability to make voice and video calls over the internet. The likes of Viber started doing so as early as I can remember and has since seen its offerings replicated by other popular apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. However, WhatsApp calls cannot be made in regions such as the UAE. The case my soon see changes based on an announcement made by the country’s digital security organization.
The authority reports that the UAE has been working together with global tech corporations including FACEBOOK that own WhatsApp. The talks are reportedly centred around nation security policies that should go easy on its strict approach to the West’s apps and services.
It is worth noting that a variety of other voice over IP (VoIP) products and services such as Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft’s Skype that support voice and video calls are banned in the UAE. However, the chat element of those apps functions as advertised, although people have always found workarounds to use the apps to their full potential via VPNs.
For what reason, though? – you ask. Well, the UAE ICT regulator has cited encryption concerns and has regulatory backing to support the block. UAE residents have since been forced to part with a healthy sum of phone bills to make calls to the country’s primary and monopolized operator instead of doing the same thing over the internet on the cheap.
Saudi Arabia used to do the same thing, but it dropped the ban a few years ago.
It is almost shocking that the services we enjoy locally and sometimes take for granted locally are unheard of in other countries. In China, for example, natives cannot access the majority of services affiliated to the West. In place, they have replicated those products and services with China-made alternatives.
WhatsApp remains very popular in many countries besides the U.S., and continues to be equipped with interesting features such as banning people from adding you to wedding groups (or any other group for that matter) or locking your suspicious chats with a fingerprint security feature.