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Apple's iOS 13.6 update, released today, appears to enable FaceTime in the United Arab Emirates, a country where the FaceTime app was previously unavailable for use.

facetimeiphoneipad.jpg

According to MacMagazine and multiple Twitter users, the FaceTime feature is accessible after installing the iOS 13.6 update. Apple did not mention the update in the iOS 13.6 release notes, and support documents haven't been updated as of yet.


Local regulatory rules have blocked FaceTime in the UAE, but rumors over the course of the last few years have suggested that Apple was working with government officials to lift the ban on FaceTime.

All phones sold in the United Arab Emirates have FaceTime disabled by default, but installing iOS 13.6 should unlock the feature. There have also been multiple reports that FaceTime is available in the UAE on devices running iOS 14 as well.

FaceTime also used to be banned in Saudi Arabia but it became available in the iOS 11.3 update.

Update: MacMagazine, the site that originally reported the changes, now says that for FaceTime to work in the UAE, the iPhone needs to be set to another region. This indicates that FaceTime is not yet officially available in the United Arab Emirates.

Article Link: iOS 13.6 Enables FaceTime in the United Arab Emirates [Update: With Region Change]
 
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Tech198

macrumors P6
Mar 21, 2011
15,674
2,092
Australia, Perth

Its strange that Facetime would work from a Mac. That sounds like a loophole.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 604
May 31, 2007
6,506
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Florida, USA
Their laws say that only the government-owned telephone monopoly can provide VoIP communications.

Apps like Zoom, WebEx and VoIP features in Teams, Slack, etc. are banned. There is a temporary exemption for these apps due to COVID.

Sounds like they want to be able to spy on all voice communications. Why else would they ban it?
 
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konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,693
Sounds like they want to be able to spy on all voice communications. Why else would they ban it?

Money. The US would likely be the same, had the Bell System monopoly not been broken up.

If it's an issue with spying, then pass laws to require wiretap capabilities. China is big on VoIP apps, like WeChat.
 
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mfuhrer

macrumors newbie
Jun 8, 2008
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Curious if this enables Facetime use in Oman as well. We always need to connect through a VPN here in order to use Facetime (and Skype and many others). I’m stuck on iOS 12 (iPhone 6) so can’t test this update...
 
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Farrgazer

macrumors member
Sep 25, 2017
94
18
Curious if this enables Facetime use in Oman as well. We always need to connect through a VPN here in order to use Facetime (and Skype and many others). I’m stuck on iOS 12 (iPhone 6) so can’t test this update...

Is Skype completely blocked in Oman? In the UAE, Skype is not blocked on commercial lines - not just for employees at offices or whatnot but also for guests. So it is possible to use Skype with no VPN at a Starbucks or a hotel, for example.
 
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itsmilo

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Sep 15, 2016
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Berlin, Germany
Cool! I bought my iPad Pro in Dubai cuz there is NO tax not thinking about this and always had to set my region to Egypt for the Facetime app to appear
 
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zaddiq

macrumors newbie
Jan 19, 2020
6
1
Back in blackberry days, UAE required blackberry to open a backdoor into the encrypted communication before it was allowed to operate. Assuredly they are requiring the same of Apple.

 
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Lionel Messi

macrumors regular
Dec 2, 2013
178
118
Barcelona, Spain
It currently only works with VPN and so far is the best VoIP & video I used. A welcome gesture to re-enable FaceTime. Hopefully ECG on Apple Watch is coming soon.
 
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calzon65

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2008
918
3,470
So there is a restriction on VoIP but not VoLTE ... what a bunch of morons running UAE telecom, or maybe they are smart and realize they will eventually lose control.

Voice, video, messaging, etc. is evolving, world wide, into a data bundled packets for transport.
 
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lartola

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2017
882
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Why was that not allowed?
Due to local regulations, until now only entities authorized by the government were able provide video calling services, for which they charged (and those entities are presumably owned by people close to the government such as firends or family of governemt officials, so pretty much they were the government’s companies). This led to apple being forced to block the facetime feature in UAE and other middle eastern countries.
 
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lartola

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2017
882
349
Sounds like they want to be able to spy on all voice communications. Why else would they ban it?

Authoritarian governments suck.
They charge for those services, that’s another reason. If the same services were offered for free, such as Apple´s Facetime, no one would ever use the one provided by the local company.
[automerge]1594858814[/automerge]
The world is incredibly messed up.
Not all the world. Just some countries are messed up, not all.
[automerge]1594858926[/automerge]
Their laws say that only the government-owned telephone monopoly can provide VoIP communications.

Apps like Zoom, WebEx and VoIP features in Teams, Slack, etc. are banned. There is a temporary exemption for these apps due to COVID.
Which lets them charge for those services. If they had to compete with free services such as facetime or skype, they’d have to offer their own service for free too and sacrifice those profits. Their answer? make themselves a monopoly through local regulations.
 
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JosephAW

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2012
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Probably a backdoor was enabled for certain iOS versions so the govmnt can monitor.
 
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konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,693
Can you elaborate? And btw I said 'the world' as in the whole entire world.

The US is one of the few remaining developed nations that still has a postal monopoly, and the only nation in the world that has a monopoly on mailboxes.

The laws are written such that any "message directed to a specific person or address and recorded in or on a tangible object" must be sent via the US Postal Service (or the postage paid anway), with limited exceptions.

So if you think about it, this means the US Government has a monopoly on communication via physical means, exactly how the UAE state carrier, Etisalat, holds a monopoly on communication via virtual means.

This line of reasoning, a state monopoly on citizen's communications, is why the post office ran the phones in many countries.
 
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unclemax

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2015
218
140
Just checked - FaceTime Audio is still disabled on Chinese iPhone models, no matter the region :confused:
 
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Benjamin Iveagh

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2018
19
10
Boston, MA
I’ve used FaceTime in the UAE so it’s only on phones sold in UAE
[automerge]1594869549[/automerge]
Due to local regulations, until now only entities authorized by the government were able provide video calling services, for which they charged (and those entities are presumably owned by people close to the government such as firends or family of governemt officials, so pretty much they were the government’s companies). This led to apple being forced to block the facetime feature in UAE and other middle eastern countries.

only on phones actually sold in UAE. You could always use a phone from somewhere else on UAE’s cell network and facetime without issue.
 
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