Anyone traveling to Dubai may be disheartened to find out that their go-to video calling app is restricted in the area. Due to security and cybercrime concerns, many VoIP services, including WhatsApp, Skype, and Facetime have been blocked in Dubai. The UAE has expressed that they want to prevent terrorists and extremists from being able to freely communicate through encrypted apps that prevent their conversations from being monitored.
It’s also speculated that Dubai wants to increase revenue for their state-owned telecom companies, and has decided to ‘eliminate’ the competition by imposing bans. By blocking free VoIP services, the Dubai population has limited options and is likely to turn to companies such as DU and Etisalat, which are owned by the state. Free audio and video apps such as WhatsApp and Skype are incredibly convenient and useful for both talking with loved ones and participating in work meetings, so it’s a real shame that they’re restricted in various areas such as Dubai. Fortunately, more recently the UAE government has relaxed these bans and has permitted access to a wider selection of audio and video apps.
It’s undoubtedly very important for us to be able to freely communicate with our friends and family, especially if we’re traveling or living far away from them. If you’re in Dubai and you want to keep in touch with loved ones at home, then here are 5 Audio and Video Apps That Work in Dubai.
Almost 90% of the population in the UAE are expats and Dubai is among the most visited cities in the world. It’s clear to see why audio and video calling apps are essential in Dubai, as the majority of people living there are likely to be contacting family and friends from their home country.
5 Audio and Video Apps That Work in Dubai
Here is our selection of audio video apps that still work in Dubai despite the increased online censorship –
Botim is UAE’s most popular audio and video calling app and one of the few VoIP services that have been officially authorized and certified for use in Dubai. This app provides users with encrypted chats and calls and also allows group chats with up to 500 people. Residents can use Botim for all their audio and video calling needs by subscribing to an internet calling plan by either DU or Etisalat.
This service costs 50 AED per month which is approximately 11.50 € or 13.50$ and with it, you get unlimited voice and video calls over 4G, 5G, and WiFi connection. Botim also regularly offers promotional discounts for users to get cheaper deals or free trials.
Botim is very similar to WhatsApp, with users able to make calls, send photos, and message friends from all around the world. The app is available on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux devices and can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google Play Store, or directly from the Official Botim Website.
Zoom was previously restricted in Dubai but has recently become unblocked due to more citizens and expats working from home. Sam Tayan, Managing Director at Zoom in the Middle East and Africa has said that “seeing that 76% of Emirati citizens prefer using Zoom truly supports our vision to help accelerate the UAE’s digital development across a number of vital sectors including healthcare, education, e-government, and smart city infrastructures.” So, it’s clear that many residents in the Dubai area favor the use of Zoom over other available apps.
Although Zoom is generally marketed for use in work or classroom settings, it’s still a great video calling app for talking to family members and friends from around the world. This app is free to use and has quickly gained traction in many countries since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zoom is available on any Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device. You can download the app now on the Apple store, Google Play Store, or Microsoft store. There are also browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox, so you can start, join or schedule meetings with just a single click.
Voico is a UAE based VoIP service that allows users to make audio and video calls from across the globe. The app also provides instant messaging, group chat functions, and screen recording. To make a call, users must have a working UAE mobile number and either a WiFi connection or mobile data.
DU, a telecommunications company in Dubai, has expressed the importance of keeping in contact with loved ones back at home and now offers Voico for free to all of its users as part of its ‘it’s good to be home’ campaign.
Voico comes with a fantastic range of functions, including the ability to send messages, photos, video messages, media files, documents, and GIFs. All messages are protected with end-to-end encryption and there is also an option to enable secure conversations where messages are automatically deleted after they’ve been read by the recipient.
4) Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts, also known as Google Meet or Google Chat, is a free-to-use audio and video communication app that is popular among users from all around the world. This app was previously banned in Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE but the ban was lifted in 2020 as residents were being encouraged to stay at home to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
As the app is completely free to make unlimited calls and displays little to no ads, it’s not surprising that Google Hangouts is one of the most popular communication services in the world. It also supports 31 languages, making it a highly inclusive choice.
Google hangouts supports up to 150 users in group chats and up to 10 users in video calls. You can download the app on any Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android device and you can sync all your data, including messages and contacts across all your devices. You can download Google Hangouts now from either the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
5) Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a free-to-use communication app that’s been specifically dedicated to work conferences and classroom spaces. This app was originally blocked in Dubai but has since been unblocked to allow employees, students, and teachers to communicate with each other from home.
This app is arguably the best choice available for those who need a communications app for work or school. Users can hold webinars for up to 1000 attendees and can easily schedule and send invites to meetings, ensuring a streamlined workflow. Using Microsoft Teams, users can also share and edit files in real-time using apps such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, allowing them to work together simultaneously.
Of course, Microsoft Teams is also useful for those who just want to have a chat with loved ones. When not in a video call, you can send your family and friends anything from photos, videos, links, emojis, stickers, and GIFs. A fun addition is the ability to turn a group video call into a virtual shared space to make you feel like all your friends and family are together in the same room. You can choose from environments such as cafés, lounges, and outdoor areas.
A final note
Unfortunately, the popular messaging and audio/video calling app, WhatsApp, is blocked in Dubai. However, we can show you how to unblock WhatsApp in Dubai using a VPN!