UAE's telecom operators clamp down on the popular app's new features.

Christine is a journalist from South Africa, who has lived and worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, covering everything from hard news to art to business & tech. Having been bitten by the travel bug as an infant, Christine finds it fairly easy to uproot herself in search of new adventures and stories. With degrees in both fine arts and journalism, she’s equally interested in visual storytelling as well as the written word. Having been part of three launch teams of three different media startups in her lifetime, she’s intimately familiar with what it takes to get a publication off the ground.

There is bad news for Snapchat fans in the UAE, where Du and Etisalat have blocked its’s recently revealed voice and video calling feature. According to the telcos, these services UAE’s  violate voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (VoIP) regulations.

Snapchat users who have recently updated their apps would have found that they could now talk or video chat with other users. However, because UAE regulations heavily limit the use of internet-based telecom services to those permitted by Du and Etisalat, this feature will now not work.

People will however still have access to Snapchat’s regular features.

In a statement to local media, a spokesperson for Du said, “Companies wishing to provide [VoIP] services should coordinate with the UAE’s licensed service providers in this regard.”

Etisalat issued a similar response to Arabic media.

This isn’t the only feature of its kind to be hit by UAE telecom restrictions.

In 2013, the Telecoms Regulatory Authority announced that Du and Etisalat licensees were the only ones able to provide voice over internet protocol services.

In April last year, Whatsapp’s voice call update was blocked by the operators, citing the VoIP regulation. Apple’s FaceTime voice and video communications services are also not installed (by default) on the company’s smartphones sold in the UAE.

Skype is the only video calling service in the country that works when connected to Du’s WiFi.

In February 2015, du chief executive Osman Sultan was quoted as saying that the telecoms operators restricted the usage of VoIP services to protect their huge network investments.

“The use of VoIP creates an economical issue. Skype is not blocked. Of course we know people use it,” he told 7Days newspaper. “For certain usage of Skype [PC-to-PC], it is allowed. But making phone calls through Skype directly, in principal, is not allowed.”