Some Middle Eastern countries seem to have a problematic relationship with VoIP services and other apps such as Snapchat, Skype, Line, and Tango. Over the years, residents in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were struggling to use VoIP services.
Like Qatar, near the United Arab Emirates, had a similar situation where these types of services are not welcome. WhatsApp and Snapchat calls have historically blocked along with Facetime. Other states in the region have also adapted to the restricting policies, where access to VoIP and social media providers are blocked.
Today, with the advantage of VoIP services to either big or small enterprises, businesses are thinking of ways on how to experience the benefits of using the said service. However, due to certain restrictions implemented by telecom firms, these entrepreneurs may have lower chances of getting the service – or none at all.
Without allowing VoIP calls to do personal and business transactions, how can countries in the Middle East, which strive to become the first in everything, including digital communication, attain its goals?
In September last year, Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Al Habtoor Group and a prominent Emirati, as well as, a Dubai-based billionaire, had called the attention of UAE’s telecom firms to lift the banning of VoIP services including free calls through WhatsApp and Skype.
Habtoor’s uploaded a video online, which was viewed by a lot of people who later supported his call, to lift the ban. The businessman addressed his issue to the telecom firm and its management, indicating that WhatsApp, Skype, and other online apps, are widely used without fee by mostly everyone in the world except for his country.
Habtoor is just one of the many businessmen who strive to improve the business sector of the country. Many small and big enterprises acknowledge the benefits of using VoIP phone system in dealing with customers, not just within the country, but especially in international areas.
Since UAE telecom firms block VoIP calls, residents have to use alternatives provided by local telecom service providers. Although UAE claimed to encourage the availability of the latest technology to its citizens, it still has these rules that “no person or business within the State may sell VoIP calls or services to the public or businesses without a license.”
Moreover, in countries like the UAE and Qatar, regulatory requirements can make it difficult for VoIP providers to operate in the same way as they do in other nations. Currently, the only two licensed entities by ictQATAR, a communication regulatory authority in Qatar, are Qatar Telecom (QTel) and Vodafone Qatar.
With the collective efforts of the people in calling for this ban to be lifted, Arabic Daily, Al Ittihad reported earlier this year that the UAE telecom regulator would be having an official meet up with Microsoft and Apple, focusing on the potential lifting of an injunction on Skype, FaceTime, and VoIP services. This announcement sparked hope to the residents, especially to business people, who aim to bring its products into the world market.
With its fast-growing youth population, diversity and innovative nature, the Middle East is a key developing market for Microsoft and other VoIP companies. Let us hope that through persistent call and endless appeals, these countries will finally open its window for a technological revolution.