Users of the popular VoIP service Skype in the UAE have been left in a state of confused frustration over the past three or four days, with many users complaining that the service was not working properly.
Many vented their ire on Twitter, only to be informed by Skype that the service appeared to be blocked in the UAE. A statement from Skype, a Microsoft company, said: "It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by both of the ISPs in the United Arab Emirates. That means you won't be able to use Skype in the United Arab Emirates.
"Unfortunately, there is very little Skype can do about this situation. The best course of action would be for you to speak to your ISP and ask why they are blocking Skype and request that they unblock our site and services," the statement continued.
This view was further compounded by a response from the UAE's telecoms regulator, the TRA, which simply pointed users to the UAE's official policy on VoIP, which states, "Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are considered part of the UAE's regulated activities. The TRA has granted licensed operators the eligibility to provide such services across their networks. Companies wishing to provide such services should coordinate with the UAE's licensed service providers in this regard."
However, the theory that Skype had been blocked was contradicted by other users on social media who claimed that the service was working fine. Some users reported that they could use Skype while using 3G and 4G but not WiFi, while others said they could also use the service via WiFi.
Users who had problems with Skype said that while they could see and hear the other party, the other party could not see or hear them properly.
With many users still able to use Skype unhindered, some suspect that the problems may be related to a suspected hacking incident which caused major issues for Skype globally, most notably in Europe, according to TechCrunch.
"The outage began on Monday, June 19th, which also is when it was first acknowledged by Microsoft on its website. The issue wasn't marked as fully resolved until Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 18:00 GMT," the technology site reported.
The problems with Skype in the UAE appeared soon after the UAE's telecoms regulator issued a statement to refute reports that WhatsApp's voice and video calling features had been unblocked in the country.
Users on Thursday reported that the call and video features on WhatApp were fully operational but a statement issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said there is no change in the UAE's Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Policy. The service was later blocked again.
The video and calls feature, officially rolled out by Whatsapp in November 2016, was blocked in UAE as it was a VoIP service which are restricted in the UAE and only licensed providers Etisalat and du are allowed to provide such services.
The TRA has not commented on the Skype issue.