Unusually, FaceTime’s working in the UAE — but it might not be for long

What you need to know

  • People in the United Arab Emirates can currently make FaceTime calls.
  • Calls have previously been blocked, while WhatsApp and others appear to still be unavailable.

This has happened before.

Journalists in the United Arab Emirates noticed over the weekend that they were able to make FaceTime calls for the first time in a long while. The Apple-run video and voice calling system is normally blocked in the country.

While no official statement has been made by local authorities or Apple itself, the Associated Press confirmed on Sunday that the FaceTime service was indeed available.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — FaceTime calls seemed to be working in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, an apparent loosening of long-standing restrictions on the Apple program in the federation of seven sheikhdoms.

While it isn’t yet clear whether this is a move that will last — services previously have become available before disappearing again — it does appear that competing services like Facebook and WhatsApp calling remain unavailable.

The UAE, home to the oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi and the freewheeling financial hub of Dubai, long has blocked internet calling apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime, presumably due to security concerns and to protect the revenues of its monopoly state-run telecommunication companies. However, authorities have not publicly explained the ban. Apple iPhones and computers sold in the UAE typically do not carry the FaceTime calling app.

Everyone will have their fingers crossed that this is a deliberate move rather than something being amiss, although the lack of WhatsApp and other services also now working suggests the latter might be the case here.

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