Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on FaceTime and Other Video/Voice Calling Apps

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Saudi Arabia today lifted a ban on services that provide access to calling someone over the internet, part of government efforts attempting to attract more business to the country. This means that "all online voice and video call services," including Apple's FaceTime and Microsoft's Skype, opened up for user access last night at midnight (via Reuters).


These apps and services previously faced harsh regulations in Saudi Arabia with a ban that began in 2013, due to the government's wariness over secure internet communication. Now, users in the country will be able to FaceTime friends and family members, with the Saudi information ministry stating this should help "kick-start" the country's economy after recently being hit by low oil prices.
Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on internet phone calls, a government spokesman said, part of efforts to attract more business to the country. All online voice and video call services such as Skype, Snapchat, and Line that satisfy regulatory requirements will become accessible at midnight (2100 GMT), Adel Abu Hameed, spokesman for the telecoms regulator CITC said on Twitter on Wednesday.

"Digital transformation is one of the key kick-starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivise the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries," a statement from the information ministry said. "Access to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) will reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship - that's why it is such an important step in the Kingdom's internet regulation," it said.
The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission also published a press release [Google Translate] on the ban's lifting.

According to a tipster's email this morning, because iPhones sold in Saudi Arabia have had FaceTime completely blocked in the past, these devices will need some kind of carrier update in order to enable the feature. In response, local carriers are reportedly saying that this update is Apple's responsibility, so it's unclear when such an update will occur.

Article Link: Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on FaceTime and Other Video/Voice Calling Apps
 

TonyC28

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2009
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Low oil prices are hurting them? Ain’t that a shame ;)
What happened to the days when they shut down production to boost prices?
 
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mytawalbeh

macrumors newbie
Feb 14, 2016
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these devices will need some kind of carrier update in order to enable the feature. In response, local carriers are reportedly saying that this update is Apple's responsibility
This is exactly what’s been going for years, a ping pong game between GREEDY carriers and Ministry of Communication. While carriers said they had nothing to do with the ban but it’s a government regulation, the ministry officials denied their claims stating the opposite.

Now we all know it’s been all about the GREED of local carriers and definitely not about the trivial justifications of “wariness of secure internet communication”.
 

ProwlingTiger

macrumors 65816
Jan 15, 2008
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My wife’s older phones from KSA couldn’t even have the app and the model number was even unique to the Middle East. Great news!
 

fairuz

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Aug 27, 2017
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with the Saudi information ministry stating this should help "kick-start" the country's economy after recently being hit by low oil prices
Hah, sucks to suck. First with oil, now with tech, these guys are learning the hard way that they can't play the isolation game anymore.
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Low oil prices are hurting them? Ain’t that a shame ;)
What happened to the days when they shut down production to boost prices?
US oil production has spiked due to fracking, and now OPEC won't cut supply anymore. Maybe I'm missing something, but the strategy of restricting oil production to make more money from oil never made sense to me. Seems like that only reduces revenue, plus it encourages others to produce oil or stop using oil. Well, that's what they're saying now, but in 1973 it was "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones."
 
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Mansu944

macrumors 6502a
Mar 11, 2012
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What exactly are you trying to say? What do you think Tim did here?
I’m not saying he did anything here. I’m just a little tired of his fights for rights except in countries where people really don’t have rights.
 
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