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How to Get Around the WhatsApp Ban in Dubai in 2022: Encrypt Your Voice Calls

Known for luxury shopping, thrilling nightlife and breathtaking architecture, Dubai is a popular destination for expats and holidaymakers. But does WhatsApp work in Dubai? Which VPNs are the best workarounds? Find out all you need to know about the WhatsApp ban in Dubai.

Wisdom Sablah
By Wisdom Sablah (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-02-13T22:42:00+00:00 Facts checked by Eugenie Tiu

Does WhatsApp work in Dubai? Well, not entirely. You can send and receive WhatsApp messages, but you can’t make video and voice calls. Considering that WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app, the WhatsApp ban in Dubai can be frustrating. Even worse, there’s no clear indication from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government whether the ban will be lifted. 

Key Takeaways:

  • WhatsApp voice and video calls are not allowed in Dubai, although you can send texts.
  • A VPN can help you bypass a WhatsApp ban because it can spoof your location. 
  • ExpressVPN is the best VPN to unblock WhatsApp in Dubai because of its vast server network and reliability. 
  • NordVPN and Windscribe are cheaper alternatives for unblocking WhatsApp. 

Fortunately, virtual private networks (VPNs) are excellent workarounds, as they allow you to use the internet anonymously. In this guide, we’ll show you the best VPNs to unblock WhatsApp calling in Dubai. If you want a quick answer; we recommend ExpressVPN.

  • You can send WhatsApp text messages in Dubai, but you can’t make video or voice calls.

  • Because WhatsApp is blocked, your voice and video calls won’t go through; however, you can send and receive texts.

  • WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption features prevent the UAE government from monitoring calls. In addition, the government wants to promote its own telecommunications industry.

  • VoIP apps BOTIM, C’Me and ToTok work in Dubai.

The WhatsApp Ban in Dubai: The Facts

For years, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has banned WhatsApp calls. While authorities have not officially explained the reasons behind the restriction, it’s obvious that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is a stumbling block to the government’s desire to monitor internet calls.

Internet users have been calling for the UAE government to unban WhatsApp. Sadly, the bright spots have been few and far between. For instance, authorities temporarily lifted the ban during Expo 2020, Dubai’s world’s fair, only to shut down the app afterwards.

In 2019, during an interview with CNBC, the director of UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority hinted that the ban might soon be lifted, pointing to increased collaboration with WhatsApp. However, three years on, WhatsApp is still banned.

Why Are Voice Calls, Video Calls and VOIP Services Banned?

As mentioned earlier, the UAE government has banned WhatsApp calling and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls because of privacy and national security reasons. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

At the heart of these bans is a desire to control the telecommunications sector in the country and rake in more profits. That’s why UAE authorities drive people to use the homegrown BOTIM app

Does WhatsApp Work in Dubai With a VPN?

A VPN can unblock WhatsApp calling because it can spoof your location by routing your traffic through a server in another country. That way, you can bypass geoblocks and make calls anonymously. 

How to Unblock WhatsApp in Dubai

Unblocking WhatsApp in Dubai is not difficult. All you need to do is to choose a good VPN, install it and connect to a nearby server. Here’s an example. 

  1. Download and Install a VPN

    Open your app store (Google Play Store or Apple Store) and download a VPN. For this example, we’ll use ExpressVPN on Android. Click the “install” tab and it should download and install on your phone in a few minutes.

    Install ExpressVPN
  2. Connect to a Server

    Open the VPN app and connect to a VPN server. Look for a server in a country where WhatsApp is not banned and connect to one nearest to you, because a nearby server will give you faster connection speeds.

    Connect to ExpressVPN
  3. Access WhatsApp

    Now, you can open your WhatsApp and start making calls.

    Open WhatsApp

The Best VPNs to Unblock WhatsApp Voice and Video Calls in Dubai

When choosing a VPN to unblock WhatsApp, look for ones that offer fast speeds, server locations near the UAE and solid security features. Here are our top picks.  

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn get started
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for unbanning WhatsApp.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for unblocking WhatsApp in Dubai, mainly because it’s lightning-fast. For VPNs, the closer the server, the faster your browsing speed. Of its over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a few in countries close to Dubai, including Pakistan, Israel, Egypt and India.

Further, ExpressVPN comes with military-grade AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection and obfuscated servers, which ensure that the UAE government can’t detect and monitor your traffic. ExpressVPN’s main drawback is that it’s pricey, but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, consider NordVPN or Windscribe. 

2. NordVPN

get nordVPN button
NordVPN can help you bypass Dubai’s WhatsApp ban.

With 5,200 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN is also a good choice for using WhatsApp in Dubai. It has servers in nearby countries such as Turkey, Israel and India. In addition, NordVPN’s obfuscated servers make it an excellent choice if you want fast, anonymous browsing. Because such servers conceal the fact that you’re using a VPN, they’re perfect for heavily censored areas like Dubai.

What’s more, NordVPN offers features — including double VPN and onion over VPN — that provide extra layers of security. However, we wouldn’t really recommend it to new VPN users, since all those advanced features can be confusing to use. Thankfully, NordVPN is a bit more affordable than ExpressVPN if you subscribe to one of its long-term plans.

3. Windscribe

windscribe home page
Windscribe is a free VPN for unblocking WhatsApp in Dubai.

Windscribe also has servers in countries close to the UAE, including Israel and Turkey. However, Windscribe makes this list because of its encapsulated protocols, named “Stealth” and “WStunnel.” While using them can slow down your internet connection, they’re helpful because they hide the fact that you’re using a VPN from prying government servers.

It’s worth noting that Windscribe’s claim to fame is that it has one of the most generous free plans. It’s one of the few free VPNs that we wholeheartedly recommend, so if you’re on a tight budget, it’s worth a try. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to use WhatsApp in Dubai, you’ll need a VPN, because WhatsApp calls are banned there. For our money, ExpressVPN is the best, thanks to its extensive server network and reliability. However, you can also use cheaper alternatives like NordVPN and Windscribe.

Have you ever tried getting past the WhatsApp ban in Dubai? Which VPN worked best? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!

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