Dubai: A prominent Emirati businessman has called on UAE authorities to lift the ban on voice and video calls on WhatsApp.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, posted a video on social media on Sunday, highlighting his plea to allow UAE residents to have access to voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functions through the messaging app.

Al Habtoor Group is a major conglomerate in the UAE which first started out as a small engineering company back in the 1970s. It now has interests in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors.

 WhatsApp blocked again

In a message posted on Twitter, the entrepreneur said it’s about time the country’s telecom carriers lift the “ban” imposed on VoIP functions of platforms such as WhatsApp.

He pointed out that while people around the world can freely enjoy video and voice calls, residents in the UAE are restricted to using the app mainly for text-based chats.

“All the telecom companies are locking it. They are blocking it and not allowing it,” the businessman said in the video.

“In my country, United Arab Emirates, we aim to be number one in everything… Why are we [behind] as far as communications is concerned,” he added.

He stressed that the country should align its actions with its "aim to be number one." “In a country like UAE, where we aim to always be pioneers in all we do, WhatsApp call should not be taken when it is accessible everywhere else in the world,” he also said on Twitter.

“I urge mobile carriers in the UAE to lift the ban, a service free to use in the top nations of the world.”

 Can you access VPN in UAE?

While voice and video calls have been enjoyed by WhatsApp users around the world over the last few years, UAE residents are able to use the app mostly for text messaging and video or image sharing.

Voice and video calls over the internet are available in UAE only through VoIP-based apps Botim and C’Me offered by Etisalat and du.