The Saudis were over the moon with joy after their Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Sawah, announced on September 20, that the ban on all voice and video call services, which prevented Saudis and expatriate residents from communicating with the outside world, will be lifted.
The decision is part of the new national strategy, known as Vision 2030, to expand the country’s economy and attract more business to the country in sectors such as tourism, entertainment, and telecommunications.
The minister tweeted that the unblocking of VoIP calls will be made within a week with the help and support of telecom partners and in line with their #customer_first policy. “And we still strive for more,” he added.
Al Sawah confirmed that the Government and telecommunications companies are working closely together to unblock all applications supported by VoIP and soon voice and video calls over the Internet will be available for all Saudi citizens and residents at high quality.
The ban on VoIP calls began in 2013 in order to protect society from insecure Internet communication. Now, 4 years later, users in the Kingdom will be able to Facetime and Skype with friends and family all over the world.
The restriction on free calling services is also a debated subject in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a Federal National Council member advocating for a change in the 2016 April session.
Earlier this year, the UAE enabled the free call feature on the Instant messaging service, but Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) quickly clarified that VoIP ban policy in the country would remain the same, shattering the hope of millions of users.
The COO of Emirates Safer Internet Society, Mohammed Mustafa Saidalavi, declared that he is not yet willing to risk safety and security in the name of free calling services.