At a time when millions are forced to stay indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak, video-conferencing apps have helped bring people closer. Image Credit: Flickr

An app that’s simple enough for all

By Alex Abraham, International Editor

In times like these when working out of home is becoming the new normal following the outbreak of COVID-19, the need for video-conferencing is being felt like never before. Many apps are available to facilitate this, and people are coming to grips with the ease of technology.

Companies have their preferences for virtual meeting apps depending on the number of people at a meeting or the software being used.

Most of the meetings I attend are in office. But I also teach children in church every Saturday, and after the churches were closed as a precautionary measure to fight coronavirus, I felt the need for an app to get in touch with them. It had to be simple enough for all of us to handle, as well as stable during the hour-long discussion. I tried a few apps and found that though they were stable, they were not simple enough for me. I also wanted the children to log on without having to navigate too many screens.

Eventually I found an app – Zoom – that fitted my needs and decided to try it out. After a few clicks I logged on and experimented with my son in the other room. Having worked out fine, I set up a meeting request, and asked the children from church to log on. The first meeting went off without a hitch. The app enables one to have a video-conference as well as record the session. For users of the basic version of Zoom, the meeting ends after 40 minutes. The paid version allows the host to hold a meeting for an unlimited period.

Since then I have found many of my friends and colleagues using Zoom. One colleague said the meeting over video-conferencing dispensed with the need to leave home early and get stuck in traffic. In fact, he wondered if meetings like this would become the norm once life stabilised after coronavirus.

Zooming in on virtual conferences

By Babu Das Augustine, Banking Editor

As a journalist, I am no stranger to web-based video conferences, tele conferences and phone dial-ins, but the necessity of social distancing mandated by coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has added a new dimension to the potential of video-conferencing in journalism.

On Monday, I joined a video press conference hosted by Gulf Intelligence for Sharjah National Oil Company (SNOC) and their French Partner Eni, announcing the details of a natural gas storage facility to be built in Sharjah.

The conference was hosted on Zoom, a teleconferencing application typically used by businesses. I had my apprehensions when I downloaded the app about the connectivity, clarity and the interactivity.

But it all turned out to be a very smooth affair with Hatem Al Mosa, CEO, SNOC, hosting the conference from Dubai with Fuad Krekshi, EVP Middle East Region, Eni, Dr. Andrea Cozzi, Managing Director, Eni Sharjah joining from Abu Dhabi and Dyala Sabbagh, Partner, Gulf Intelligence and more than half a dozen journalists from around the world joining the press conference.

I joined the press conference from my home at Warqa, Dubai. As the meeting progressed, the physical distances among the participants vanished, the interactions became lively and everyone got their chance to participate in discussions.

All I missed in the conference was the customary free croissants and coffee from the host. If not for that, it was a full-fledged press conference that one could have imagined.

The Zoom app based conference comes with the luxury of recording the entire video and audio. That is indeed a dream come true for a lazy journalist like me with poor handwriting.

Of course, for those of us who care about our appearance in the video, the app offers filters and backgrounds!

From what I experienced on Monday, the COVID-19-imposed social distancing is likely to change our lives for good.

Imagine, the possibilities: Companies saving a great deal of money on flying their key executives to host these events; tremendous saving on hotels and hospitality; journalists saving on time and the hassle of driving around the town to attend various conferences and the organisers, mostly public relations companies doing their job by just sharing the meeting ids with participants.

Save for the horror and devastation the virus has brought about, COVID-19 is clearly going to bring about a paradigm shift in the way we interact socially and professionally.

A wide range for a global audience

By Wasim Chougle, Digital Consultant

A look at some popular apps for cloud meetings and video-conferencing.

ZOOM Cloud Meetings:

One of the top-rated meeting app on App Store and Google Play, a quick and easy way to connect to your office meeting or a university class. As a user rightly puts “it is as same as attending a meeting in a meeting room”. It is easy to register, setup and invite others for the meeting.

ZOOM is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps due to the ease of use and its seamless performance.


Easy to use

Quick sign up

Accessible in UAE

Generous free account

Can record meeting to watch later

Chatting, File Sharing


Webex by CISCO is one of the most popular online meeting apps among the business community. It has seamless features to communicate and collaborate.

It provides HD video conferencing for up to six participants. It has a very advanced data encryption which helps protect data from leakage.


Accessible in UAE

HD Conferencing

Data encryption

File sharing

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft teams is a seamless platform for team meeting, communication, and collaboration. It combines workplace chat, video meetings, storage and allows us to work on files together in real-time.


Supports Multi Devices

Collaborate real time

Integrated with office 365

Public and private chats with team

A shared workspace to collaborate

Mobile Audio and video calling

Google Hangout

Google Hangout is a unified communication platform developed by Google. It helps users collaborate in real time and use Google applications seamlessly.


Integration with other Google products.

Voice and HD video calls

Support Multi Devices

Screen sharing