UAE blocks access to Skype over ‘unlicensed VoIP calls’

United Arab Emirate’s telecom providers Etisalat and Du have confirmed that Skype has been blocked throughout the country over “unlicensed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls”, Gulf Newsreported on Sunday.
Addressing the issue, Skype confirmed inaccessibility in UAE and also mentioned that the app had been blocked in Qatar.
“It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by the ISPs in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar,” said Skype in a message on its website. “That means you won’t be able to use Skype in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar.”
The blocking of free calling service — including through Whatsapp and Snapchat — is a debated subject in the UAE with a Federal National Council member advocating for a lift in the restriction in the 2016 April session, Khaleej Times had reported in June.
On the other hand, UAE’s neighbour, Saudi Arabia, had announced in September that online video calling apps — including WhatsApp, Skype and Viber — would be unblocked in the Kingdom that month.
The apps were blocked in Saudi Arabia in 2013, after the government claimed that they “do not meet the regulatory conditions” in the country. An industry source had then alleged that the move was motivated by business interests.
Most recently, Skype joined the lengthening list of internet tools on China’s blacklist, disappearing from download stores in November.
“We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of VoIP apps do not comply with local law, therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China,” Apple had said in an emailed statement.
The company, however, had not specified which laws such apps were found to have violated.