“Embarrassing” bans

The youngest member of the Federal National Council (FNC) has claimed that the UAE’s ban on voice calls via apps such as Snapchat and Whatsapp is an “international embarrassment”.

Thirty-two-year-old Saeed Al Remeithi spoke out against restrictions on voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services and urged the UAE to amend its rules to make them publicly available.

Today, video calls functions are restricted to the two licensed telecoms providers, Du and Etisalat.

According to a report in The National, Al Remeithi said:

“Any person who uses any app or video pays Etisalat a lot of money, and if we calculate what is downloaded from the web, or any call, it is a lot.

So, the issue of limiting technologies is very important.

[Yet] users are limited in the UAE, and the public are calling for these services.”

During the FNC session, Al Remeithi also reminded council that the United Nations considers access to the internet a “human right”.

“As UAE representatives we are embarrassed in the international federation by this issue.”

Hamad Al Mansouri, director-general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, argued that VOIP services had been blocked due to concerns over cybercrime and state security, and said they would continue to be blocked indefinitely.

 He claimed that some other countries had also stopped these services for similar reasons.

Etisalat intends to launch 5G services next year that would include the function to make online voice calls, Al Mansouri added.