The expat community living in United Arab Emirates (UAE) was ecstatic on Thursday after WhatsApp reportedly enabled voice and video call features for users across the country.
However, their joy was short-lived. Just hours after calling features went live; the UAE government apparently blocked the calling services. Users were once again restricted to sending text, photos, videos only.
Gulf News reported that by around 2pm on Thursday, residents in the UAE experienced sporadic VoIP access while some users were no longer able to place video and voice calls via WhatsApp.
By evening most of the users were unable to use the features. “I was able to access it this morning without any issues. Now, sometimes I can connect, sometimes I don’t. The connection seems unstable,” a user said at 5:30pm.
VoIP services, including video-calling, are restricted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in the UAE and only licensed providers are allowed to offer such services.
Earlier on Thursday, the TRA in a statement said, “There is no change in the UAE’s policy on voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.” The statement added that any applications or services of this nature would be subject to regulatory framework in force in the country.