New video calling app launched in UAE, ban on Skype, WhatsApp calls remains

Etisalat offers access to the Voico UAE app, which offers video and audio calls worldwide



Another new video calling app appears to have received regulatory approval to operate in the UAE.

On its website, UAE telecoms operator Etisalat has added the ‘Voico UAE’ app to its list of providers offering video and voice calls.

The Voico UAE app – free to download worldwide – is available on the Apple app store as well as Google Play store.

“Voico UAE offers video and audio calls for users in UAE, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, US, Canada, China and many more,” the app description states.

It offers “unblocked high-quality video / audio calls,” it adds.

The app is not yet available with du, according to its website.

Voico is the latest to join the list of supported video/audio calling apps in the UAE such as Botim, C’Me and HiU.

Another app, Yzer, was also included in the list in August following its launch.

Read: UAE gets new video calling app as VoIP restrictions on Skype, WhatsApp continue

All free international voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services including Skype and WhatsApp calls currently remain blocked in the UAE as per regulations issued by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA).

However, the ban on WhatsApp calls could be lifted soon, a senior cyber security official recently said.

Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, executive director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, told CNBC earlier this month that the UAE was collaborating closely with big tech platforms such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

“There might be a lift of that ban for (WhatsApp) voice calls… and this is going to happen soon, this is what we know and understand from the telecommunication authority here in the UAE.”

There were reports earlier this year that the country’s telecoms regulator was in talks with US technology firms Apple and Microsoft towards the potential re-enabling of FaceTime and Skype.

Read: UAE’s telecoms regulator in talks to lift Skype, FaceTime ban

Several senior businessmen have also urged the UAE to lift the ban.

Read: Dubai businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor urges for end to Skype ban in UAE

The UAE is one of the few countries in the Gulf region where Skype, FaceTime and other VoIP apps are still blocked after Saudi Arabia lifted its ban in September 2017.

The kingdom said it would allow apps that satisfy regulatory requirements to function but would monitor calls.

Read: Saudi lifts Skype, WhatsApp ban, but will censor calls