The rules on WhatsApp in Dubai

WHATSAPP has over two billion users, making it the biggest global messenger app.

Many people rely on WhatsApp to contact their friends, work colleagues, and loved ones when they are abroad, leaving people wondering whether they can use the app while they are in Dubai.

Does WhatsApp work in Dubai?

In Dubai, you can only use WhatsApp to send and receive messages.

The app will not work for making voice or video calls.

If you try and make a call on WhatsApp while in Dubai, the app will display a message that reads: “Access to this site is blocked”.

It continues, “The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories under the U.A.E.’s Internet Access Management Policy”.


Free internet calling can be very useful when you are abroad to update loved ones back home, however this can be tricky if you travel to Dubai.Credit: Getty – Contributor

Why did Dubai ban WhatsApp?

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, in which there are strict internet restrictions imposed by the government.

In the UAE, internet usage is monitored by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA).

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The TRA have banned WhatsApp, as well as other similar apps like Skype and Viber.

They blocked apps that offer free, unlicensed VoiP calls and censor any content that goes against Islamic morality or includes drugs, nudity, gambling, or anti-government sentiments.

There are only two internet providers in the UAE and one is owned by the government and the other has connections with it.

Therefore any internet usage is monitored by the government.

What should I use instead of WhatsApp in Dubai?

The UAE government created their own apps that allow video and audio calling, called C’ me and Botim.

The apps offer similar services to WhatsApp, including free video calls, use of emojis, and the option to share photos.

However, some users of the apps have identified problems with them.

The apps reportedly have connectivity issues which make them a poor alternative for people needing to make long or important calls.

Similarly, while WhatsApp is free of charge, both C’ me and Botim cost money.

There is also no privacy, as all the users information is passed along to the state.

However, some tourists have discovered a loophole to the problem.

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You can gain access to WhatsApp and other similar apps by downloading a VPN on your phone.

A VPN will allow your phone to appear as though it is in a different location and therefore have access to your favourite apps.

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