Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Skype opens channels to the region's regulators

Skype plans to open its first office in the Gulf within months, as part of its effort to end the ban on the global internet telephone service in many parts of the region.

Skype plans to open its first office in the Gulf within months, as part of its effort to end the ban on the global internet telephone service in many parts of the region. Russ Shaw, the vice president of Skype for the Middle East and the general manager of its mobile division, said the office would allow the Luxembourg-based company to lobby regional governments more often, and to develop partnerships with telecommunications operators in the GCC.

"We opened our Arabic language website last November - but we thought another step forward for us was to have a physical presence in the region," said Mr Shaw on the final day of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit. Access to the Skype website is prohibited in the UAE, Oman and Kuwait by federal regulators. It is also blocked in North Korea, the only country in the world with an official policy to ban it. Mr Shaw said the company had not yet decided exactly where Skype would open its Gulf office, but the UAE was on the company's shortlist and he expected a choice to be made by the end of the next quarter.

During a panel discussion yesterday, Josh Silverman, the chief executive of Skype, said its effective banning in the UAE was "disappointing" and "short-sighted". "What we will find in the history of economics is that when a government acts to protect a legacy profit pool, it is not in the best interest of the economy or the people," Mr Silverman said. Telecoms operators in the Gulf have opposed allowing access to services such as Skype, Fring and Truphone because they do not want to lose revenues from international phone calls, which are highly lucrative for phone companies.

But Mr Silverman said allowing Skype would actually bring more revenue to telecoms operators. He said using such services required customers use more broadband services, which would provide higher margin revenue to operators than traditional international phone calls, he said. There was speculation at the summit that Skype executives were meeting with senior representatives of du and Etisalat yesterday.

But Raghu Venkataraman, the chief strategy and investments officer for du, denied such discussions had taken place. Mr Venkataraman said the company was looking to launch its own voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service in the UAE this year, but declined to offer details. "We can launch VoIP but we want to do it ourselves," he said. @Email:dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

On our sixth birthday, today’s news told visually

Today in print, we are doing something different: we use only photos, graphics, illustrations and headlines to capture the news in a one-off collector’s edition.

 Rolling out the structure for the set. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert

After more than a week of speculation, The National has what are believed to be the first photos of a Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.

 Hassan Abdullah, who goes by the name Abu Mahmoud, an Emirati fisherman, poses for a portrait at the Al Rughayalat Port. Abu Mahmoud was born and raised in Fujairah city and has been working as a fisherman since 1968. “I’m a shark man”, he says, “I was born in the sea.” Silvia Razgova / The National

In pictures: Fishing communities in the Northern Emirates

Fishermen in Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain worry that new regulations to protect fish stocks are harming their trade. We look at both communities through the lens of our photographers.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

 Al Maryah Island will host the 114-hectare Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Al Maryah Island rises in Abu Dhabi

Al Maryah has been chosen as the site for Abu Dhabi’s first financial free zone, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and construction activity in the island has been at a fast pace.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National