Business executives say they are hopeful that the WhatsApp calling feature will be unblocked in the UAE Image Credit: IANS

Abu Dhabi: Business executives say they are hopeful that the WhatsApp calling feature will be unblocked in the UAE, explaining how such a move would help businesses in the UAE in terms of both costs and easier communication with their business counterparts from around the world.

Gulf News on Wednesday broke that the UAE may soon remove its ban on WhatsApp voice calls after an interview appearance on CNBC by Mohammad Al Kuwaiti, executive director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, who said that the ban may soon be lifted.

“There might be a lift of that for [WhatsApp] voice calls … and this is going to happen soon, this is what we know and understand from the telecommunication authority (TRA) here in the UAE,” he said.

For its part, the TRA made no comment on the issue, with the country’s two main telecommunication providers Etisalat and du also having no comment when contacted.

Business boost

Reacting to the news that WhatsApp calls might be unblocked, business executives said the news was positive if passed.

“I work in the tourism and hospitality sector which means I deal with a lot of international clients and executives who are based in Europe, the US and many other countries around the world. This makes it vital to have access to all available communication tools like WhatsApp voice calls,” said Bilal Khalil, vice president at Lamar Holidays.

“It will make it both easier as well as cheaper to communicate by using the WhatsApp voice calling feature. I believe that we are at a disadvantage by having this tool blocked to us as it’s available everywhere else,” he added.

Khalil also said that WhatsApp has now become an essential business tool making it all the more important to have access to all of its features.

“Business is also changing a lot these days, and I can say now that a big portion of the deals that I get done are through WhatsApp. Nowadays, the previous norm of doing business by emails or other formal ways is getting changed by new tools like WhatsApp.

“WhatsApp has become very important because it’s on your smartphone, and nearly everyone has a smartphone these days, and so for a business person it is such a convenient and easy tool to have at any time they need to conduct anything that is business related,” he added.

Ahmad Ataya, partner and business development manager at Aquatic Architects Design Studio, the country’s first architectural service provider dedicated to water and floating developments, highlighted the saving costs of WhatApp calling.

“As a UAE-based entrepreneur, I know that the government encourages innovative approaches to doing business. When it comes to Voice over Internet Protocol applications and their potential, I believe there is a vast benefit to be reaped.

“Being free, quick, and easily accessible anywhere in the world will open many doors, and possibly even introduce new business models,” he added.

“I am always optimistic and confident in the laws and how they enable me to succeed, as well as bridge to the global market. This move could very well cut costs for business owners that they may refocus finances into other areas of growth,” he said.

Sachin Kapoor, vice president of Sales and Marketing at technology firm TechXhub, said that it was important for businesses in the UAE to be able to communicate with tools like WhatsApp calling due to the country’s position as a hub of international trade and business.

“We think that UAE being such an important global market, this move would let all the stakeholders based around the world to connect seamlessly with local entities and counterparts.

“Since voice calling is essential for organisations that work with multi country suppliers, this low cost option will boost effectiveness of the overall business scenario,” he added.

“With every company, specially small and medium sized enterprises, prudently managing their operating budgets, paid calling is a considerable expense. This unfortunately leads to make overseas calls all the time to partners as they limit only to free calls,” he said, highlighting the cost saving positives for SMEs.