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Unblock WhatsApp, says UAE businessman

WhatsApp and Skype calls should be unblocked, says Chairman of Al Habtoor.

In a world of fast paced digital transformation, where voice recognition and artificial intelligence are determining the future of business and communication should UAE still block VOIP calls?

A leading businessman has voiced his support for the unblocking of WhatsApp calls and has gone public with a video message calling upon the telecom companies – Etisalat and du to take a bold step and unblock the service.

The founding Chairman of AL Habtoor Group Khalaf Ahmad al Habtoor posted his message on twitter, in both English and Arabic, calling upon the regulators to do what the rest of the world has done while dealing with VOIP.

“A lot of people are complaining,” he says about the blockage of WhatsApp and Skype calls in the UAE.

Stating that UAE has aimed to be the number one country in the world,  he wondered why “we are still backward when it comes to introducing new digital   features.”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority in the UAE has blocked the use of several VOIP services including WhatsApp, Skype and Google Hangouts

According to the TRA VoIP is a “regulated activity” and should be offered to the public only by licensed operators  in the UAE.

Etisalat meanwhile introduced BOTIM, its own version of mobile application that facilitates VOIP calls. However users will have to pay a monthly subscription of AED 50 for use with mobile data and AED100 for use with wifi to  use the service. In order to make a call using BOTIM the recipient should also have downloaded the BOTIM application.

UAE-based telecom service provider Etisalat earlier this year posted net profit for the first half of 2018 of AED 4.3 billion ($1.17 billion), up 6 percent year-on-year. Its revenues rose 4 percent to AED 26.2 billion.

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