UAE VoIP Ban: Everything you Need to Know 


Anyone with friends in Dubai or Abu Dhabi knows about the UAE VoIP ban. You have probably tried calling your friends or family on WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or the like only to hear them say something along the lines of “Wait, let me turn on the VPN.”  

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP, also called IP telephony) is a method and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol networks, such as the Internet.  

This is done to protect profits for the country’s two main telecom companies. As a result, anybody who purposefully unblocks a restricted VoIP service could face prosecution. Some of these applications are WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger. 

Why is There a UAE VoIP Ban? 

The law around the ban is made to discourage the sending and receiving of illicit, illegal or ‘haram’ web content. Accessing TRA-restricted sites related to gambling, dating, adult websites or others can get you in trouble. 

That is the official reason, however many suspects it is to guard the profit margins of telecommunications companies who charge fees for their VoIP services.  

Anyone can bypass the UAE VoIP ban through the use of a VPN, however, anybody who purposefully unblocks a restricted VoIP service could face prosecution. Taking action against an offender doesn’t happen all that often, as half the population would end up with a black spot on their record. But still, if you insist on using a VPN, then at least don’t do anything too nefarious. So don’t o buying guns off the dark web.

The most popular VoIP applications that the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has barred include: 

  • Whatsapp 
  • FaceTime 
  • Skype 
  • Snapchat 
  • Viber 
  • Facebook Messenger 

What are the Best UAE VPNs to Use? 

Obviously, we are not encouraging any laws to be broken ere, but if you want a VPN that is sure to work in the UAE, we recommend you take a look at the below. These are all tried and tested on the ground and are overall excellent VPN services. 

  • ExpressVPN is among tee best services for getting around the UAE VoIP ban. With its obfuscated servers and one of the fastest VPNs, you may safely unblock websites and applications. 
  • NordVPN is one of the most popular out there – not least for sponsoring half of YouTube creators. It offers amazing security features including a double VPN that encrypts communication twice. 
  • PrivateVPN is a fantastic solution for maintaining your privacy. It adheres to a strict no-logs policy and implements OpenVPN to a high degree. 
  • VyprVPN  is a VPN that prioritizes security and has cutting-edge concealment technology for increased stealth while surfing the web. 
  • Surfshark A cheap VPN with a ton of features is called. Its “camouflage mode” makes sure your ISP is unaware of your activities. 

All these VPNs offer risk-free money-back guarantees or free trials, so you can test what works for you before deciding on one. 

Which VoIP Apps are Legal in the UAE? 

Residents of the UAE can lawfully use specific VoIP applications that the government has not blacklisted. 

In reality, the government has loosened some of the previously imposed limitations as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. It remains to be seen if the recently unblocked services would continue to be accessible when UAE nationals are released from quarantine. Here is a list of VoIP apps that are not part of the UAE VoIP ban:  

  • BOThis VoIP app is authorized and is accessible on the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Anyone may use it to make VoIP calls, although a monthly fee of 50 AED (about $13.50) is required. Additionally, users must have an Etisalat or du Internet Calling Plan. 
  • Hiu Messenger: Both the du and Etisalat networks formally support this VoIP application. Hiu Messenger is available to those who subscribe to an Internet Calling Plan and pay for unlimited bandwidth. 
  • C’Me – The du and Etisalat networks both formally support this VoIP application. C’Me Messenger is available to those that subscribe to an Internet Calling Pack with unlimited usage. 
  • Microsoft Teams – This app’s limitations have been relaxed to allow users to interact while the building is in lock down. 
  • Zoom Cloud – The government has excepted this well-known tool from the UAE VoIP ban amid the pandemic, enabling businesses to have meetings with up to 100 participants. 
  • Google Hangouts — Due to COVID-19, this well-known software has also been unblocked. Users may participate in group chats, voice calls, and video calls. 
  • Voico UAE – This VoIP service is situated in the UAE and offers voice and video calling right now. The Google Play and Apple app stores both provide the service for free. However, some users claim that it is WiFi-required in order to function. 
  • Smoohty: Smoothy is a video chatting software that is now offered in the UAE and is largely targeted towards young people. 
  • Houseparty: During the COVID-19 shut down, this hitherto unheard-of video conferencing program has become quite popular. It was accessible in the UAE at the time this was written. Users can play games and participate in discussions with up to eight others. 

The TRA has warned that the lifting of the UAE VoIP ban is probably only going to be temporary and that it would be constantly reviewing the list of permitted VoIP services. Because of this, the list above is tentative, and it’s probable that the list of VoIP providers may vary over the next several weeks and months. 

Whatever you plan to do with this information, keep in mind that anyone caught using a VPN to get around restrictions might be subject to penalties of up to 1 million AED or a prison term of at least six months. Additionally, anyone found using a VPN for illegal purposes might face a punishment of up to 2 million AED. You have been warned. 

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Technology section to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.