Mobile messaging service WhatsApp is no longer blocked for video and audio calls within the UAE, residents discovered on Thursday.
WhatsApp introduced the video and audio calling feature in April last year. However, it was blocked in the UAE, which prohibits the use of external VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service providers.
While no official change in policy has been announced, several WhatsApp users across the UAE reported on Thursday that they were able to make video and audio calls to other numbers within the country.
Internationally, some people were able to reach WhatsApp users in the US, although others were unable to connect to users in India through video or voice calls.
According to the UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority, only the two telecoms licensees – Etisalat and du – are allowed to provide voice over internet protocol services.
The TRA issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that “there is no change” in the UAE’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) policy.
“TRA reconfirms that any applications or services of this type must comply with the applicable regulatory framework in the country,” it added.
According to local reports, a global WhatsApp update triggered the calling service to get activated in the UAE. However, it is likely to be blocked again very soon.
In April last year, du and Etisalat blocked Snapchat’s new voice and video calling service due to the existing communications regulation in the country.
Apple’s FaceTime voice and video communications service is also not installed by default on the company’s smartphones bought in the UAE.
However, Microsoft video calling service Skype does work in the country.