Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on internet-based calling applications such as WhatsApp and Skype on Wednesday, AFP reported. The government said voice and video calling apps will now be “widely available to users”, and that this would help cut costs and promote entrepreneurship in the digital space.
“Digital transformation is one of the key kick-starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivise the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries,” the kingdom said in a statement on Tuesday.
The move comes just days after Saudi Arabia asked social media and technology company Snap Inc to remove the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher channel in the country, claiming that it violates local laws. The conservative country has often been accused of censorship.
On September 13, Abdullah Al-Sawah, the country’s minister of communications and information technology had announced on Twitter that the ban would be lifted within a week. He had tweeted that this was “in cooperation with our telecom partners” and in line with “our customer first policy”. “We still strive for more,” he had said.