Saudi Arabia lifts ban on internet calling apps

The Saudi Arabian administration has lifted the ban on voice calls on Skype, WhatsApp and other applications. Voice and video calling apps such as WhatsApp and Skype will be “widely available to users”, said the government in a statement on Tuesday, September 19. “Access to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) will reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship – that’s why it is such an important step in the Kingdom’s internet regulation,” said the government further. The objective of this move is to improve business confidence and encourage entrepreneurship as the kingdom transitions into a post-oil era.

The ban was justified by the Saudi Arabian administration in 2013 to “protect society from any negative aspects that could harm the public interest”.

The telecom regulator in Saudi said that residents would be able to use internet voice and video call services from midnight but some residents said that they were able to use Skype and Facetime from early Wednesday morning. Earlier many people in the country used virtual private networks (VPN) to get around the ban , although calls made through VPNs were slow and often crashed.

The lifting of the ban has come after the crown prince of Saudi, Mohammad Bin Salman, launched an ambitious national strategy to diversify the country’s economy and wean it off its dependence on oil.

The strategy, known as Vision 2030, aims at bringing up new economic sectors like tourism, entertainment and telecoms.

Sources: The Telegraph UK, Scroll