The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) revealed on Tuesday it would be temporarily unblocking some video and voice calling applications during the quarantine period.
The decision was taken after residents called on authorities to ease the restrictions regularly placed on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime to better communicate with their overseas families.
The TRA has approved the usage of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Blackboard on all internet networks within the country, as well as Microsoft's Skype for Business and Google Hangouts on mobile and fixed-line internet networks.
The UAE has joined Oman in easing restrictions on such apps.
Oman lifted restraints on internet tools such as Skype for Business, Google Meet, and Zoom last week to help companies and schools navigate their way. So instead of having students/employees meet in person, they can hold remote meetings and classes without face-to-face contact.
People across the globe are distraught due to the pandemic and the necessary quarantine that has come along with it. Considering the UAE's population is made up of 85 percent foreigners, it is only natural they would ask for free means of communication to reach their families.
Employees from different sectors have faced similar problems as they've been forced to pay for virtual private networks (VPN) to bypass the restrictions in order to do their jobs.
According to an interview with Reuters, SMEX Executive Director Mohamad Najem believes the Gulf state blocks VoIP apps in an attempt to "support its telecoms firms and for national security reasons."
TRA has stated that the applications are available until further notice and that this list will be consistently reviewed.