Is WhatsApp Banned in Dubai? | Other Useful Applications to use in Dubai & More
Commonly referred to as the gem of the Middle East, Dubai is frequented by travelers from across the globe. Dubai has a modern telecommunications infrastructure and is well-connected to the rest of the world. The city has an extensive mobile network, and tourists can easily connect to the internet while in Dubai. There are numerous WiFi hotspots throughout the city, and tourists can also purchase prepaid SIM cards to stay connected while in Dubai. Here's an extensive guide on using WhatsApp in Dubai and other means of staying connected with your loved ones.
Is WhatsApp Banned in Dubai?
If you are in Dubai, you will sadly not be able to make any WhatsApp calls to people using the app, since those functions have been limited by the government of Dubai. You can, however, access Whatsapp’s texting feature, and share video messages or audio texts with your contacts. So although you can’t use the calling features of WhatsApp, you needn’t worry about contacting your loved ones while visiting Dubai as there are plenty of alternative apps available for free which can serve your needs while you’re visiting this Gulf state. This restriction by the government is in light of security concerns and has been in place for about two and a half years.
What You Can do on WhatsApp in Dubai?
- You can send text messages
- Videos can also be sent through chats
- You can send images as messages as well.
What You Can’t do on WhatsApp in Dubai?
- You can’t make voice calls
- Neither will you be able to make video calls
Applications to Stay Connected in Dubai
Good For: Video Calls | Voice Calls | Meetings
Zoom is a video conferencing platform that provides video telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based platform, over the internet. While you’re in Dubai, you can make use of Zoom for teleconferencing and telecommuting needs. You can install the application on your handset and speak to your boss, or your loved ones outside Dubai, at the press of a button. Whether you’re out and about, or in the comfort of your hotel room - you can conveniently blur your background to comply with a professional setting.
2. Google Hangouts
Good For: Video Calls | Voice Calls | Meetings
This cross-platform messaging service became a standalone application in 2013, although it was originally a feature of Google+ before that. Google Hangouts can be used as a video and voice calling platform to stage your work calls, and personal conversations alike. You can use the chat feature to conveniently coordinate time zones with your friends while in Dubai, or make a quick presentation in a cafe before heading to the Burj Khalifa. Similar to Zoom, you can also blur your background on Google Hangouts as per your requirements.
3. Wojhati Journey Planner
Good For: Planning Your Commute | Getting Around Dubai
This is the Roads and Transport Authority’s journey planning platform, where you can chart the course of your travels and plan your Dubai itineraries with care and precision. Dubai is at your fingertips with this handy app which allows you to enter the coordinates of your location and your destination, suggesting all possible means of transport for you to choose from. Planning day trips will be a cakewalk with this app on your phone, and you’ll be able to experience all of Dubai like a true local.
Good For: Text-Messaging | Voice Calls | Video Calls
ToTok is an instant-messaging app that was launched in the United Arab Emirates back in 2019. The app allows you to make voice calls and video calls, and even supports conference calls for groups of up to 20 people. If you’re visiting Dubai with your family or a large group of friends - this app should definitely be on your home screen. Needless to say, ToTok has emerged as a great substitute for WhatsApp and has found a vast user base in Dubai over the past few years.
5. Microsoft Teams
Good For: Work
Microsoft Teams is primarily a workplace communication platform. It was developed by Microsoft, as part of the Microsoft 365 product family. While visiting Dubai, you can make use of the app’s inbuilt workspace chat and video conferencing features. Additionally, Microsoft Teams offers a feature for file storage - so you can have all your documents in one place while seeing the sites of this Middle Eastern city. The best part? Microsoft Teams is totally free.
Good For: Booking Attraction Tickets | Discounts
Who doesn’t want a concierge on their phone? Headout’s mobile travel app makes it simple to explore a new city, helping you find tours, activities, entertainment events, and tickets to local gatherings. You’ll be able to enjoy everything Dubai has to offer at discounted rates. Feel free to scroll through other travelers’ reviews before booking tickets in the blink of an eye. The cherry on top is the flexible cancellations - after all, plans change all the time, right?
Buy A Sim Card to Stay Connected in Dubai
Using a Sim card to make calls and access the internet is an age-old solution that just works. And it's no different in Dubai! Collect your local 4G Sim card as soon as you touch down at the Dubai International Airport and stay connected with your friends and family back home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using WhatsApp in Dubai
Certain features of WhatsApp and other internet calling apps have been blocked by the UAE. So you won’t be able to make video or voice calls on WhatsApp while you’re visiting Dubai.
You can use WhatsApp’s texting functions while in Dubai. This includes sharing pictures and videos, as well as voice notes.
The WhatsApp features of making video calls and voice calls don’t work while you’re in Dubai.
Yes, you can use Instagram in Dubai.
There are plenty of alternatives for WhatsApp that will help you stay connected to your loved ones while you’re visiting Dubai. You can use the calling and conference features present in ToTok, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc.
ToTok is an instant-messaging application that was launched in 2019 in the UAE. It allows you to make voice calls and video calls, and even conference calls for groups of up to 20 people. Due to these functions, ToTok is a great substitute for WhatsApp and has found a vast user base in Dubai.
Like most internet-based voice-calling and video-calling applications such as Facetime, certain functions of WhatsApp are also banned in Dubai.
The Wojhati Planner is a useful travel planning application that helps you map your trips across the city of Dubai. You can enter your current position and your desired destination into the application so it can use real-time GPS information to suggest different modes of transport for you to choose from. It calculates the total travel time and journey cost to help you pick the best-suited option.
Yes, you can make use of this application while you’re in Dubai. The ban on Google hangouts was lifted in the UAE in 2020, to provide more avenues for online communication and distance learning after the world was hit with the pandemic.
Yes, Zoom is available for use in Dubai. Although it used to be a banned application in Dubai, the ban was recently lifted in light of the pandemic. You can use Zoom primarily for conferences or online learning. But it is also highly useful for video and audio calling your loved ones while you’re visiting Dubai.