Instant messaging service Whatsapp seems to have had its free voice and video calling features unblocked in the UAE. And WiFi UAE is offering its hotspot users complimentary higher-speed WiFi for seven days across the UAE at over 400 locations this Eid.
WhatsApp video, voice calls now available in UAE
Users in the UAE have confirmed to AMEinfo that instant messaging service WhatsApp’s voice and video calls features are now available on their app. The UAE authorities or WhatsApp have not made any public announcements regarding the matter so it is unknown if this is a temporary or permanent development.
Many people have taken to the social media to share the news as it makes it easier for millions of expatriates residing in the UAE to connect with their friends and families back home. However, Arab News reported that some users say the Whatsapp call feature is still “unresponsive” for them.
The video and calls feature, officially rolled out by Whatsapp in November 2016, was blocked in UAE as it was a VoIP service. According to the UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority, VoIP services are restricted in the UAE and only licensed providers Etisalat and du are allowed to provide such services.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission, the agency that regulates telecoms in Saudi Arabia, has released a statement saying that it would “like to clarify that it did not direct/order to block nor return such a feature” to service, and that it was following up on the issue with Internet service providers, adds the Arab News report.
AMEinfo attempted a number of local and international calls using both WiFi and data. While calls made in the UAE were successful, service outside the country was intermittent.
Celebrate Eid with FREE WiFi
To celebrate World WiFi Day on June 20, WiFi UAE will be increasing the speed by up to ten times, all the way through to Eid, June 27.
Speaking about the latest initiative from WiFi UAE, Jihad Tayara, Vice President Business Development and Partnerships, du said: “In support of the Year of Giving and the Smart City initiative we are pleased to announce that we will be continuing to spread happiness to people across the UAE, as part of World WiFi Day and Eid celebrations.
“People in the UAE will be able to enjoy innovation and connectivity through complimentary higher-speed WiFi, where they will be able to connect and share online with their loved ones. This initiative is another great stepping stone in our quest to support the UAE government in achieving country-wide WiFi access in line with the nation’s Vision 2021.”
WiFi UAE expects to enable WiFi connectivity through more than 400 locations by the end of the year via its award winning ‘@WiFiUAE’ network. The service offers users two types of Internet connection; WiFiUAE, a free WiFi service, and WiFi UAE Premium, an affordable paid service that allows users unrestricted upload and download speed.
du has introduced WiFi UAE in a number of high footfall areas including RTA serviced areas such as the Dubai Metro and Tram, Emaar Boulevard Downtown Dubai, malls across the emirates such as Al Ain Mall, Al Naeem Mall and Al Naeem City Center in Ras Al Khaimah, Marina Mall and LuLu malls in Abu Dhabi, Sahara Center in Sharjah, as well as The Dubai Mall and Wafi Mall in Dubai, to name a few.
It provides fast and free access to all government websites and apps. Whether you need WiFi access for business or personal use, you can avail du’s premium WiFi services regardless of your network provider by connecting to the ‘@WiFi UAE’ WiFi network. All you need to access the premium WiFi service is a UAE mobile number and a WiFi-capable device. This includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, gaming devices and more.