According to Apple Insider reports, FaceTime on Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices has been fully operational in the United Arab Emirates. The region has been blocking Apple’s video chat service for the past ten years.
Since the launch of FaceTime, the service’s usage rate in the UAE has been very low. The country’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority have blocked Internet calling applications such as Skype and WhatsApp from operating within its borders.
However, the Associated Press recently discovered that the typical blockade that prevents FaceTime voice and video calls has obviously been lifted, and high-quality video and audio can be obtained in the country and calls with foreign contacts.
The exact reason for the unhindered passage of these calls is unclear. Neither Apple nor the UAE telecom regulator responded to requests for comment on the matter.
It is possible that Apple’s FaceTime functioning right now is a by-product of its World Expo launched in early October this year which is expected to attract millions of visitors from all over the world. Maybe during the Dubai World Expo, WhatsApp and FaceTime calls can be made without the need to deal with blocking that affects other parts of the country.
Given that WhatsApp and Skype calls continue to be blocked, the availability of FaceTime may only be temporary.
The UAE has never officially explained the reasons for the blockade. As VoIP platforms use encryption technology, the UAE may prefer to ban these platforms altogether, rather than allowing communications.
We do know that this is not the first time that FaceTime has been found to work normally in a short period of time. After the previous iOS 13.6 update, Apple FaceTime was enabled in the country, although it was later blocked.
In 2018, Apple and Microsoft tried to persuade the UAE government to lift the blockade of FaceTime and Skype. This effort did not seem to make progress at the time.
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