Microsoft is working with the UAE's authorities to get Skype unblocked
30 August 2018| Last updated on 31 March 2019
In June 2017 UAE residents were left frustrated when the popular communications app Skype was blocked. More than a year later, Skype is still banned across the Emirates under the UAE’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) policy. However, Microsoft has suggested that the UAE’s Skype ban could change in the near future.
Microsoft, who own Skype, were in talks with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority back in April. It was reported that the tech giant worked closely with the TRA to look at the possibility of lifting restrictions on services like Skype and FaceTime. Today, Microsoft has told The National that they are still hopeful of lifting the Skype ban in Dubai and the UAE.
“We are passionate about the benefits that Skype offers to our users around the world by facilitating communication and enabling collaboration,” Microsoft revealed in a statement.
The free video calling service isn’t the only technology that is restricted in the UAE, with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber and Snapchat also limited under VoIP policies. Other countries also have restrictions on VoIP services, including Morocco, Saudi Arabia and China.
What’s the reason for the Skype ban in the UAE?
There have been many theories as to why Skype is banned in the UAE, from cyber-attacks to commercial considerations. But, Analysts have suggested that restrictions are due to security concern, with issues over the authorities being able to access encrypted data.
The ban on Skype could also be motivated by the country’s need to protect local providers and their paid services.
What ‘Skype’ alternatives are there in the UAE?
At present, only local telecoms operators Etisalat and Du are licensed to offer VoIP services in the UAE. Both the communication companies charge for their video-calling services.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority also states that “Any person using VoIP services which are not provided by a licensee…may be committing a criminal offence.” For more information on social media and cyber laws in Dubai, click here.