How to Make Whatsapp Work in Dubai
By reading this article you’ll find the answer to many other frequently asked questions as well as the title question:
Shouldn’t WhatsApp Work in Dubai?
WhatsApp, having close to 2 billion users around the world, should normally work anywhere, but unfortunately, Dubai, being located at the heart of the United Arab Emirates, doesn’t belong to the ‘normal’ category, at least not with respect to its internet.
There are reasons behind this restriction, and WhatsApp is not alone in its ordeal. Every application or service provider that uses the so-called VoIP(Voice over Internet Protocol) technologies, is shut off from its users in the UAE with the exception of those which are powered by state-owned companies, such as BOTIM, an Etisalat call platform that uses VoIP and charges quite handsomely for it.
Why WhatsApp Calls Don’t Work in Dubai
Our previous discussion leads us directly to what we think is the main reason behind the massive filtration of non-domestic VoIP services in Dubai and on the whole, in the UAE. They are imposed because, in our opinion, the government has two objectives in mind: One, to reap the most benefits without any setback from better, safer, and more popular VoIP service providers, such as WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype, through its own telecom companies, such as Etisalat, and have a monopoly in the communication business. Two, to maintain a relatively pervasive and totalitarian control policy over its citizens’ data, that is, to put measures in place to spy on its own residents legally, when needed. This may seem a bit cynical, but we don’t see why it should surprise anyone. Governments all over the world, even in the most democratic nations aren’t exactly shy when it comes to the practice of eavesdropping on their citizens, supported by claims of it being done in the interest of national security or public morality or other excuses of the kind. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean that no supervision is needed for the internet, it is our belief that these measures can go a bit too far, as is the case in the UAE. This is also common practice among the gulf nations and MENA(Middle Eastern and North African) countries, Russia, China, and others.
As you’ll see further on, one can actually avoid being subject to these creepy behaviors and the like by using a Virtual Private Network. Read our articles on this:
There are other apparent reasons, that are not national security related but are culturally or religiously, or simply politically charged. These are what makes the next categories of content restricted in Dubai and the UAE.
Why WhatsApp Calls Don’t Work in Dubai
To give a comprehensive list of websites and services blocked by the UAE government here is almost impossible(the number is at least 5000 websites), and the list is growing while you’re reading this article, but we can try to name the main types of blocked content in the UAE:
- As we mentioned, VoIP services in general, and WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, and Viber in particular.
- Streaming in UAE is not easy. Most popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO max, and others are restricted from both ends in the UAE, so besides being restricted by the UAE authorities, they are geo-restricted on the company’s side as well.
- Gaining access to gaming platforms like Roblox in UAE is hindered.
- Dating apps, gambling and betting apps, and also pornographic content are strongly prohibited and restricted.
- Unfavorable political content and news, especially those critical of the government and the rulers of the UAE, are blocked.
How to Make WhatsApp Work in Dubai
Now comes the time to answer the most important question: How do you bypass restrictions in Dubai and make WhatsApp work in the UAE?
The answer’s short and easy: Get a VPN. What’s a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a tool you can access from anywhere with an internet connection on any device (Virtual) that encrypts your data(Private) and passes them through a server in another location(Network). Here why you need a VPN in the UAE.
A VPN is arguably the most popular method to bypass restrictions, though it is also used to a great extent for its power in enhancing the user’s internet security.
Before you go on, you might want to check out our articles on how to choose the right VPN for your needs in the UAE, or the ultimate guide to using a VPN in the UAE, and how to use VPN in UAE.
VPN: Is it Legal in Dubai?
There are laws in the UAE, not openly criminalizing the use of VPNs, though the authorities have been known to interpret it that way. So using a VPN in the UAE may not be without risks. As we’ve already discussed, the UAE restricts the internet for a lot of reasons, but it also restricts the bypassing methods one uses to lift the previous ones, such as a VPN. Besides technical difficulties and roadblocks, it has put legal measures in effect to persecute a VPN user. One might even ask can you get caught using VPN in UAE? In our other articles, we have treated the legal implications of using a VPN in the UAE: what you need to know, is using VPN in Dubai illegal, is there a VPN fine in UAE, are there any legal repercussions associated with using a VPN, and is using a VPN legal in UAE.
Here’s a disclaimer: We are not legal experts. So we ask you to use VPNs with prudence and discretion in the UAE, and if you are too anxious about the possibility of legal trouble, consult a lawyer before you use a VPN.
What VPN to Use in Dubai