Business VoIP Featured Article

UAE Sans Skype: Families and Businesses Suffer

January 19, 2018

By Mandi Nowitz, Web Editor

Imagine waking up to discover the only connection to your family and friends is blocked. This was the case for residents of the United Arab Emirates in late December. They woke up to learn that the Skype app was no longer available. UAE telecom servers, Etisalat and Du stepped in to address and confirm the situation. 

“The access to the Skype App is blocked since it is providing unlicensed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Service, which falls under the classification of prohibited contents as per the United Arab Emirates' Regulatory Framework,” Etisalat told its customers on Twitter.

This was a devastating blow to residents, reliant upon Skype to communicate with loved ones overseas. Discord, Whatsapp, and Facetime are also blocked in the UAE so there are limited conferencing options. This led to a petition launch on where angered residents expressed frustration over the VoIP and Skype take down.

“VoIP is vital and needed for many families who are living in the UAE and need to contact their loved ones who are living outside the UAE,” shared Skype user ‘Mostafa Amr’ via the petition.

This is quickly becoming a domino effect; it is bad enough families cannot visually connect but businesses operating out of the UAE are in distress. The UAE is the United Kingdom’s biggest civil export market on the Middle East, 12th internationally. More than 5,000 British businesses operate from the UAE and there are many reasons to invest in the Arab market:

  • diverse economy continually growing and expanding
  • proximity to other Gulf markets - acts as an entry route to other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries
  • important market for re-export into other countries
  • no taxation on personal income and capital gains
  • ranked 31st overall in World Bank’s ease of doing business report, but first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region
  • English is widely spoken and accepted as the language of business
  • its strategic geographical location – Dubai is regarded as a regional hub and commercial capital for the Middle East, north Africa and beyond
  • large expatriate population
  • one of the most liberal trade regimes in the Gulf attracting capital from across the region

The ability for UAE partners from other countries to leverage VoIP, and its many features, creates a better meeting and business environment. Partners across the pond rely on Skype to create a pseudo-physical presence and now that has been taken away. Families are suffering, businesses are suffering; the UAE is suffering.   

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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