Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Before we go ahead with the good news, we would like to reiterate that the ban on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the UAE has still not been lifted. Having said that, people still continue to use the VoIP feature of apps such as Skype and WhatsApp to make online free calls by switching on VPNs, but that’s not legal.

VoIP isn’t allowed in this region as it could possibly expose you to risks such as privacy infringement, voice phishing and hacking.

However, everyone seems to have his or her own way of using online free call – there’s another service that appears to have gained the seal of approval from UAE authorities. How then can you make an online free call in the UAE. Here’s a report from Khaleej Times, which will get you excited:

The nation’s two telecommunications providers, Etisalat and du, have both listed a VoIP-based app, Botim, as part of their ‘unlimited’ voice and video call service. It joins C’Me, another VoIP app that has been available for some time now, as an approved service.

Sounds good. But you’ll have to fork out a monthly service fee to ‘legally’ use the Online free call.

Both service providers have listed Dh50 and Dh100 as monthly fees: the former is for one user, while the latter is for each member of your family. The fees are automatically renewed per month.

Of course, both you and the party you wish to call should be using either Botim and C’Me to enjoy those endless hours of freebies.

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has stated that there has been no change in its stance with regards to VoIP (Technology used to make online free call), referring to its regulatory policy on the service. It falls at No. 14 on its list of prohibited Internet content.

But if you read the policy carefully, a VoIP service will be allowed in the UAE if it meets certain criteria and conditions.

Last year, when Google Duo was launched, many expected that it would be blocked in the UAE. It didn’t happen, and it functions normally to this day.

And in June of this year, WhatsApp’s online free call surprisingly worked, albeit for only a brief period of time. The TRA clarified that it is disallowed in the UAE.

Originally published on Khaleej Times.