Skype blocked again in the UAE

The Microsoft-owned company said on Sunday there was 'very little' it could do after the service ceased to function over the weekend.

Skype users report that calls go through, but their recipients cannot hear anything. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // Skype has been blocked again, to the frustration of those wanting to see and speak to their loved ones in their home countries.

The Microsoft-owned company said on Sunday that there was very little it could do after the service stopped working at the weekend.

Callers said they were unable to connect to the service, which has more than 70 million users.

The halt in service came after WhatsApp calls were enabled by a global update last week, only to be blocked again the following day.

“It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by both of the internet service providers in the UAE,” said Skype, a company based in Luxembourg.

“Unfortunately, there is very little Skype can do about this situation.

“The best course of action would be for you to speak to your ISP and ask why they are blocking Skype and request that they unblock our site and services.”

WhatsApp’s call feature has been blocked since it was launched last November, as have other internet calling services from sites such as Viber, Snapchat and Facebook.

The popular in-game voice chat app Discord has also been blocked. None of the call functions are licensed in the UAE.

On Twitter, users spoke of their frustration at being unable to contact family and friends over the holiday season, with many tweeting about telecoms providers du and Etisalat, and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

One user, “Mo”, said such moves left the country “light years behind in communication”.

“And yet we strive to be the best,” Mo said.

The authority said last week that the service should not be available and was unaware of any changes that would allow access. WhatsApp voice calls went offline soon after.

The authority pointed internet users to an earlier previous statement that read: “Voice over internet protocol are considered part of the UAE’s regulated activities.

“The TRA has granted licensed operators the eligibility to provide such services across their networks. Companies wishing to provide such services should coordinate with the UAE’s licensed service providers.”