When WhatsApp calls were introduced back in 201k, the UAE government promptly banned the feature in the country. The ban was due to a mix of reasons including protection of telecoms companies, lack of regulatory impetus along with security concerns since authorities would not be able to access WhatsApp calls.
It seems the authorities stance on WhatsApp voice calls is shifting as there are reports circulating claiming that there is a consideration to remove the ban altogether as expressed by the executive director of UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority:
The collaboration with WhatsApp has actually increased, and in many of those (projects) we saw a very good understanding (from them) of the concept we have.
There might be a lift of that ban for [WhatsApp] voice calls… and this is going to happen soon, this is what we know and understand from the telecommunication authority here in the UAEMohamed Al Kuwaiti – executive director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority
It seems the ban doesn’t affect users too intensely since simply using a VPN can help avoid the restriction but it is interesting seeing the number of countries who are interested in monitoring all communications that nationals make.
Seeing that some of the most powerful countries in the world want WhatsApp encryption to be a thing of the past it could mean that sooner or later countries like UAE might actually end up having access to these calls and it might factor into their decision to even consider lifting the ban.