From the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel to the world's tallest building, residents in the UAE are accustomed to a luxury lifestyle. Now, there is a swank social networking app to complement that thirst for exclusivity.
Clubhouse, which burst on to the scene last year, is an invitation-only audio platform created for the world's creme de la creme.
Akin to a live podcast, the invitation-only element sets this app apart from the rest. Simply put, if your name is not down you’re not coming in.
Similar to a virtual members-only club, users lucky enough to be on the app can tune in to conversation rooms and listen to chats on almost anything, from entrepreneurship, books and the latest innovations in technology.
Elon Musk recently launched a discussion on the platform that garnered huge interest from thousands of listeners.
And the billionaire tech entrepreneur is already planning his next conversation – a sit-down with Vladimir Putin.
This week, he tagged the Kremlin's official account to ask if the Russian president would like to join him in a conversation on the audio app. Now that would be worth a listen.
How do I get an invitation?
It is an iOS-only app, so first things first; no iPhone, no invite.
If you are part of the Apple brigade, then from here on in it is all about who you know.
An existing Clubhouse user has to send an invitation from their app giving you access to it. At first, users have only two invites available on their account, so you have to hope you are at the top of someone's list.
The invitation link usually comes in the form of a text message direct to your phone. Once that lands in your inbox, you’ll be prodded to set up an account.
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The process is pretty simple. They send a five-digit code to your mobile, you put that in, add your real name and then create your handle.
Sign-up is not instant though. Your details are sent off into a virtual abyss and you receive an alert to say they have reserved your chosen username and will get back to you on the status of your account.
If they confirm all is well, you’re in and officially a Clubhouse member.
What happens after I sign up?
Much like Spotify and iTunes, you will be asked to select your topics of interest.
Whether it is sport, music, business or health, the more boxes you tick, the more content you will have access to – or in this case, the more conversation rooms you can enter.
The conversation room is like an online conference call, live and in motion. Depending on who launched the chat, there could be one person talking or several. Most will be listening in and unable to participate.
When the conversation is over, the chat room is closed. Nothing is recorded on the app so if you are keen to listen in on a talk, you best log in to the live discussion because once it ends, it disappears.
Depending on what topics you select, the app will also recommend individuals for you to follow or join.
Do you have to use a VPN to access Clubhouse in the UAE?
No. One of The National staffers was lucky enough to receive an invitation to Clubhouse. She was able to access the sign-up phase without using a VPN.
The use of VPNs in the Emirates is not in itself against the law, but accessing certain content and websites from the country can be.
For now, the app can be used as normal, but for those who do use a VPN to log in to Clubhouse, using a free service may be less secure and more susceptible to hacking, potentially increasing a user’s risk.