x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 November 2017

Saudi to lift block on Skype and others next week

Restrictions on VoIP calling services were put in place a year ago

Saudi Arabia placed restrictions on Skype and other VoIP calling services last year. David Ramos / Getty Images
Saudi Arabia placed restrictions on Skype and other VoIP calling services last year. David Ramos / Getty Images

Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on Skype and other VoIP voice and video calling services from next Wednesday, according to the country’s Minister of Telecommunications and IT.

“In cooperation with our partners in the telecommunications sector … we have lifted the restriction on calling apps in one week,” said Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawahah in a post on Twitter.

“[Telecoms regulator] CITC will be honoured to oversee the review of applications to meet regulatory requirements, and will work with telecommunications companies to lift restrictions in conformity with requirements.”

The lifting of restrictions is part of the ministry’s “Customer First” policy, “under which everyone works together in order to give telecom subscribers in the Kingdom the best services that meet their expectations and satisfy their needs," the ministry said in a separate statement on state news agency SPA.

Skype was in wide use in Saudi Arabia for several years, until restrictions were placed on the service a year ago.

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The service is widely used in the UAE, despite being unlicensed by the country’s telecommunications regulatory authority (TRA). Other VoiP calling services such as those offered by WhatsApp remain blocked in the country.

WhatsApp’s voice and video calling briefly became available in June, only for the service to disappear a day later.

The TRA said at that time that its policy on VoIP services was unchanged, and that such services could only be provided by licensed telecoms operators.