Can You FaceTime in Dubai?
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Dubai is a beautiful tourist destination with plenty of fun things to do. However, they have stricter technological rules than many other destinations, and it’s smart to double-check whether you can use certain apps before you visit.
So, can you FaceTime in Dubai? Unfortunately, FaceTime is one of the apps that is not allowed in the UAE. While a range of other popular communication apps such as Facebook Messenger and Snapchat are also restricted in the UAE, there are local apps that can be used to communicate with people overseas.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about telecommunication restrictions in Dubai, addressing the following key points so that tourists are ready to visit the UAE fully prepared:
- Can you FaceTime in Dubai?
- What other VoIP apps are banned in Dubai?
- Why are VoIP apps banned in Dubai?
- What telecommunication networks are available in Dubai?
- Are there any VoIP apps that are legal in Dubai?
- What are the legal methods of communication in Dubai?
Can you FaceTime in Dubai?
FaceTime is banned in the UAE and typically cannot be used in Dubai. All iPhones purchased in the UAE won’t even have FaceTime on the phone.
That being said, people have been successful in accessing the app using VPNs although this is considered illegal behavior. If you bring your own phone that does have FaceTime, it may be possible to get your app to work, although this isn’t guaranteed. As with any overseas travel, it is highly recommended that you respect local customs and laws to ensure a safe and problem-free trip.
What other VoIP apps are banned in Dubai?
FaceTime is not the only VoIP app banned in Dubai. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is more commonly referred to as voice or video calling.
In addition to FaceTime, common VoIP apps that are banned include Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp. While Viber and FaceTime are completely banned in Dubai, apps such as Snapchat and Facebook messenger also have a partial restriction. In 2016, the Snapchat calling feature for both voice and video was disabled in the UAE. The video calling feature on Facebook Messenger has also been restricted.
Phones purchased in the UAE will not come with these apps and will not facilitate their use. Tourists should be careful when purchasing phones in the country as the apps will not work on these phones outside of the country, either. Phones that are purchased outside of the UAE may be able to use these apps in the country, although it should be remembered that their use is illegal within the UAE.
Why are VoIP apps banned in Dubai?
VoIP apps are banned in Dubai and the UAE for a couple of reasons. Primarily, the government seeks to monitor communications as a way of increasing safety and controlling terrorism. For this reason, voice and video calls have been prohibited on a range of apps as it makes communication too difficult to track and compromises safety.
Secondly, the UAE has two prominent telecommunication companies that form a duopoly for the industry. These companies are both partially owned by the state and therefore the government wants to protect their worth. Introducing additional telecommunication options to the country would diversify business and reduce the strength of the duopoly.
What telecommunication networks are available in Dubai?
The two telecommunication companies that form the duopoly in the UAE are Etisalat and Du. Etisalat is the biggest telecommunication company in the country with a huge 13 million customers. Du is the second-largest telecommunications company in the UAE, boasting 9 million users.
Originally catering to locals, Etisalat traditionally focused on landline services. Despite being the largest telecommunication company in the UAE, Etisalat didn’t really cater to tourists, migrants or pre-paid customers. Du entered the market with the intention of addressing this gap in telecommunication offerings. This plan was successful and Du grew to be the strong competitor it is today. Etisalat followed suit and also broadened its offering to cater to travelers, creating the healthy duopoly that exists today.
Are there any VoIP apps that are legal in Dubai?
There are three local VoIP apps that are legal for use in Dubai. While none of these are the commonly used VoIP apps that most users are familiar with, they all provide a service for voice calling, video calling, and instant chat. This provides locals and international visitors with an affordable and convenient option for domestic and international communication.
The three legal VoIP apps in Dubai are:
Botim is a popular communication app in Dubai and is recommended for iPhone users. Available in the Apple store, users can choose from different plans for calling and data. The app is available for use across the UAE, forming the best connections with Qatar, Pakistan, the USA, India, China, and Bangladesh.
C’Me is Du’s recommended VoIP app. It can be downloaded from the App or Play store. Providing voice and video calls, C’Me is known for its high-quality audio and HD image. The app was specifically designed for tourists visiting the UAE so that they had an intuitive option for connecting with their families back home.
HiU is another app providing video and voice calls; however, it is only available on the Etisalat network. The app is available on phones, tablets, and even desktop computers. HiU is also great for group chats, joining up to 200 users from all over the world in one conversation.
Packages are available that include the usage of all three apps. However, as they all basically perform the same functions, you’ll probably only need one.
What are the legal methods of communication in Dubai?
Legal communication options include the above three apps (Botim, C’Me, and HiU) as well as phone service through Etisalat or Du. If you don’t want to use international roaming on your phone, it is easy to purchase a local sim and use that if you have an unlocked phone.
Alternatively, tourists can buy a cheap phone in Dubai that is connected to either one of the two large telecommunication companies.
To recap, here are the key points you should take away from this article:
- FaceTime is banned in the UAE. While many tourists will have this app on their phones, its use is illegal in Dubai, and this may mean your access to FaceTime is disabled while you are in the UAE.
- Other common VoIP apps are also banned. Common communication apps such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber are prohibited in the UAE. Apps like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat are partially available, although the video and voice calling features have been disabled.
- VoIP Apps are banned in the UAE for two reasons. Firstly, the government wants to be able to monitor communications to control terrorism and keep people safe. Secondly, the UAE has a telecommunications duopoly consisting of two state-owned entities. Introducing more competition to the market will decrease the value and competitiveness of these two companies.
- There are three legal apps to use in the UAE. These three apps are Botim, C’Me, and HiU and can be used with either Etisalat, Du, or both networks. All three apps provide an authorized option for voice calls, video calls, and instant messages.
- Etisalat and Du are the large telecommunication companies that form the duopoly. It is possible to buy a local sim and communicate through the phone network as opposed to apps for voice or video calls.