How to Access Blocked Apps Like WhatsApp and Facetime in Qatar
Last year, Qatar residents started having issues with various messenger apps and VoIP services. Although there was no official statement from the government about banning or blocking these services, many people were reporting that they could no longer use them to place voice calls over the internet.
A year later, residents are still facing the same issues. So, what’s the problem and what can you do to use apps like WhatsApp and Facetime in Qatar?
Are VoIP Services Banned in Qatar?
Although the Qatar government has never officially come out and said they are banning these services, last year it was confirmed by Microsoft that Skype was being blocked in Qatar.
This is what the company had to say:
“It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by the ISPs in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. That means you won’t be able to use Skype in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar.”
Although confirmation hasn’t come from other VoIP providers, it’s safe to assume that other similar apps are also facing the same problem. With many expatriate workers depending on these services to call home, the ban is a real disappointment and just another example of the rampant censorship that is taking place all over the internet.
Luckily, there are ways to get around the ban that will allow you to continue to use these apps.
How Can You Access Blocked VoIP Apps?
With the country effectively blocking all VoIP services, it may seem like those living in Qatar are out of luck when it comes to using apps like WhatsApp, Facetime and Skype. However, there is a way residents can get around the ban and continue to use these services.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) have proven to be an effective way to access blocked apps in Qatar and many other countries that face heavy censorship. By purchasing a VPN and routing your internet traffic through their servers, you should have no trouble using VoIP services and various messenger apps that have been banned in Qatar.
What Are VPNs and How Do They Work?
VPNs are private networks with servers located in various countries around the world. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through one of the provider’s servers. This does two things: Your data and personal information are encrypted to prevent it from being accessed by governments, hackers, and third parties, and your location and IP address are hidden.
By using a VPN, you’ll have the choice of using a number of different servers located around the world. By logging on to one of these servers, it will appear as if you’re located in the country that server is based in. So, if you’re located in Qatar, you can log on to a server in the US, the UK or in a number of other countries that don’t have any restrictions around VoIP services.
With a VPN, you’ll no longer be subject to the ban on popular VoIP services and can continue to use them to make video and audio calls over the internet.
Are VPNs Legal in Qatar?
It is important to note that you are not breaking any laws by using a VPN in Qatar. VPN use is legal in the country, as long as you don’t use them for any illegal activity.
Using VoIP services is also technically legal in Qatar. There is no law that does not permit their use. The issue seems to be with countries offering the service without a license, but using a VoIP for your own personal use is completely legal.
So, if you use a VPN to access a VoIP service, you are not doing anything illegal.
Which VPN Should You Choose?
There are hundreds of VPN providers for you to choose from. Many are reputable businesses that offer a quality service. However, there are also a lot of sub-par VPNs out there and other apps that are simply scams, used to collect your information in order to sell it to third parties (which ironically is something VPNs are supposed to prevent). So, when choosing a VPN provider, you should do your research and choose carefully.
Below is a list of the top five VPN providers that we recommend:
1. NordVPN: Widely recognized as one of the best VPN providers in the industry, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN. They have over 5000 servers located around the world and let you connect up to six different devices to your account.
2. ExpressVPN: Another heavy-hitter in the VPN industry, ExpressVPN has servers in an amazing 94 different countries. They’re also known as one of the fastest VPNs available.
3. Private Internet Access: This company is one of the oldest and most trusted brands out there. They offer affordable prices and blazing-fast speeds.
4. ProtonVPN: If you’re looking for a free option, ProtonVPN might be for you. Their free version offers unlimited data, although the speeds are a little slower than their premium plans.
5. HotspotShield: With some of the best download speeds available and a free version, HotspotShield is an excellent choice. If you’re going to use the free version just bear in mind that they limit your usage to 500mb per day.
Installing and Using Your VPN
Once you’ve chosen your VPN, simply download and install the software on your device. Most VPNs have apps for desktops, smartphones, tablets and more, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding a provider that works with your desired device.
Follow the instructions to get the service set-up and then choose a server. You’ll want to choose a server that’s located in a country that doesn’t have any restrictions around VoIP use. Once you’ve logged on to a server, it will appear to service providers that you are located in your country. You’ll now be free to use WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype and any other VoIP apps to place calls over the internet.