Using Calling Apps in the UAE

The UAE is home to a large community of expatriates. In fact, I lived in Dubai for many years. And like many residents of the UAE, I would stay connected to my college mates, friends, coworkers and family around the world with the help of free calling apps. Though I moved away a few years ago, I still love keeping in touch with familiar faces back in the UAE.

It’s no surprise then that I am super irked by the erratic and abrupt suspensions of free calling apps by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). No one wants to spend exorbitant sums of money on international calls. So this has come as a huge frustration.

The UAE, among other countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia, has always had a problem with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In fact, VoIP falls at No. 14 on the nation’s list of prohibited Internet content. The UAE considers VoIP “unsafe”, as it potentially carries risks related to hacking, voice phishing and privacy. Considering that free calling apps like Skype and Whatsapp Call are widely used globally, such claims seem unwarranted and dubious. Nevertheless, these calling apps are now banned in the UAE, though texting and media messaging through them is allowed for now. 

Residents have to now avail of Internet Calling Plans to legally make unlimited voice and video calls. These are available through the UAE’s two telecommunication providers, Etisalat and Du. Both providers offer two calling apps for a monthly fee of either AED 50 or AED 100. 

I have downloaded the BOTIM app onto my iPhone, while my family and friends in the UAE have enlisted in the AED 50 plan from Etisalat. While this a great way to communicate internationally, it is still disappointing that residents in the UAE have to fork out money on calling apps that are completely free in other parts of the world. I am hoping the UAE doesn’t ban BOTIM in the near future. 

My review of the BOTIM app:

• Video Clarity  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

• Voice Clarity  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

• Text Messaging  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

• Photo Messaging  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

• Video Transfer  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

• Overall Quality  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Further Reading

 

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