High cost of calls to the UAE

Tiki

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A 30 min phone call to Dubai costs $280. The UAE govt blocks FaceTime, What’s Ap, Messenger etc. A 6-7 hr time difference. He had a VPN that helps a bit, but it means he has to call us, never the other way round.

so truly, my sympathy and support for your predicament ❤️

edit: she took their cat, not their car- my fat fingers or autocorrect, 🤷‍♀️
This is nuts! Since when? I was in Dubai in Feb 2020 and used WhatsApp although with wifi since Vodafone $5 roaming doesn't work in Dubai. Maybe because I was using an Aussie phone and not a UAE purchased phone?
 

Seat0B

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This is nuts! Since when? I was in Dubai in Feb 2020 and used WhatsApp although with wifi since Vodafone $5 roaming doesn't work in Dubai. Maybe because I was using an Aussie phone and not a UAE purchased phone?
It is nuts @Tiki, and I think you might be right about a UAE SIM card, and I have been told (by a phone salesman in the UAE as well as my son) that it is because the govt wants to force people to use the govt owned telco. Until recently, there were no taxes at all in the UAE, although they did introduce a GST style tax about 2 years back. However, my son says there are all kinds of “taxes” on things sort of like the ”lazy tax” where businesses like banks, insurance and phone companies gouge existing customers because they know it’s too hard to change provider. And this seems to be one of those situations. Along with the outrageous cost of phone calls from Australia to UAE - and my providers (Telstra for actual bill and Optus when I learnt to call and ask about rates BEFORE making the call) have both confirmed that it is UAE costs that make it so expensive after I questioned the amounts charged for my calls. talk about phone bill shock - I nearly died when I got the bill.

you can use messenger and what’s app to text, but not for voice or video calls. Every now and then, they have some sort of amnesty, usually when a competitor telco tries to open up, and then you can use these services for a while before they block them again. It’s just so frustrating. So maybe you were there in an amnesty, or maybe it was your Australian SIM.
 

Seat0B

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It is nuts @Tiki, and I think you might be right about a UAE SIM card, and I have been told (by a phone salesman in the UAE as well as my son) that it is because the govt wants to force people to use the govt owned telco. Until recently, there were no taxes at all in the UAE, although they did introduce a GST style tax about 2 years back. However, my son says there are all kinds of “taxes” on things sort of like the ”lazy tax” where businesses like banks, insurance and phone companies gouge existing customers because they know it’s too hard to change provider. And this seems to be one of those situations. Along with the outrageous cost of phone calls from Australia to UAE - and my providers (Telstra for actual bill and Optus when I learnt to call and ask about rates BEFORE making the call) have both confirmed that it is UAE costs that make it so expensive after I questioned the amounts charged for my calls. talk about phone bill shock - I nearly died when I got the bill.

you can use messenger and what’s app to text, but not for voice or video calls. Every now and then, they have some sort of amnesty, usually when a competitor telco tries to open up, and then you can use these services for a while before they block them again. It’s just so frustrating. So maybe you were there in an amnesty, or maybe it was your Australian SIM.
Off topic, but related to above, it is very weird to be in a place that censors the internet too. If you go to a site that the government does not approve of, it is blocked and you get a message saying “this site has been blocked by the UAE Government”. When we were last in Dubai in 2019, you could not access any sites with a Qatari domain, alcohol sites, cough sites ( I didn’t try this one, just accepted it when told!), and some others that seemed random and surprised me at the time though I did not record what they were.
 

Amanad78

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This is nuts! Since when? I was in Dubai in Feb 2020 and used WhatsApp although with wifi since Vodafone $5 roaming doesn't work in Dubai. Maybe because I was using an Aussie phone and not a UAE purchased phone?
My brother is in Abu Dhabi, he can use whatsapp for messages only. Calls and video calls are blocked. Just uses wifi
 

Tiki

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It is nuts @Tiki, and I think you might be right about a UAE SIM card, and I have been told (by a phone salesman in the UAE as well as my son) that it is because the govt wants to force people to use the govt owned telco. Until recently, there were no taxes at all in the UAE, although they did introduce a GST style tax about 2 years back. However, my son says there are all kinds of “taxes” on things sort of like the ”lazy tax” where businesses like banks, insurance and phone companies gouge existing customers because they know it’s too hard to change provider. And this seems to be one of those situations. Along with the outrageous cost of phone calls from Australia to UAE - and my providers (Telstra for actual bill and Optus when I learnt to call and ask about rates BEFORE making the call) have both confirmed that it is UAE costs that make it so expensive after I questioned the amounts charged for my calls. talk about phone bill shock - I nearly died when I got the bill.

you can use messenger and what’s app to text, but not for voice or video calls. Every now and then, they have some sort of amnesty, usually when a competitor telco tries to open up, and then you can use these services for a while before they block them again. It’s just so frustrating. So maybe you were there in an amnesty, or maybe it was your Australian SIM.
Maybe that's it. I only used WhatsApp for texting. I had a friend in Dubai (returned to Egypt because he lost his job during Covid) and he used WhatsApp a lot for texting. Did you try Skype or similar?
 

dajop

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Along with the outrageous cost of phone calls from Australia to UAE - and my providers (Telstra for actual bill and Optus when I learnt to call and ask about rates BEFORE making the call) have both confirmed that it is UAE costs that make it so expensive after I questioned the amounts charged for my calls. talk about phone bill shock - I nearly died when I got the bill.

Have you tried using Skype with account credit? It allows you to call regular phone numbers at much lower rates - around 40c/min to landlines and 27c/min to mobiles. Also various subscriptions. Info here ..

Skype to Phone plans for low cost international calling | Skype

(rates click "see rates" at the bottom of the World Skype Credit box)
 

MelMel

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Have you tried using Skype with account credit? It allows you to call regular phone numbers at much lower rates - around 40c/min to landlines and 27c/min to mobiles. Also various subscriptions. Info here ..

Skype to Phone plans for low cost international calling | Skype

(rates click "see rates" at the bottom of the World Skype Credit box)
I am not a tech person so feel free to shoot me down - could you buy a Telstra android phone on month to month and send it to your son with international roaming enabled? He would be a “tourist” using “his” Australian mobile in Dubai. It’s something like $5 a day for the roaming pass plus the monthly Telstra charge. As I said - no idea if this is possible 🤷🏻‍♀️
 

Seat0B

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Maybe that's it. I only used WhatsApp for texting. I had a friend in Dubai (returned to Egypt because he lost his job during Covid) and he used WhatsApp a lot for texting. Did you try Skype or similar?
Free Skype did not work.
 
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Seat0B

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I am not a tech person so feel free to shoot me down - could you buy a Telstra android phone on month to month and send it to your son with international roaming enabled? He would be a “tourist” using “his” Australian mobile in Dubai. It’s something like $5 a day for the roaming pass plus the monthly Telstra charge. As I said - no idea if this is possible 🤷🏻‍♀️
Me either @MelMel but I might look into it. Still even that $5/day adds up pretty fast =$150/month plus monthly Telstra charge. You can see why I complain. And why his VPN is really the only way we’ve made work so far.
 

Seat0B

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MelMel

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Me either @MelMel but I might look into it. Still even that $5/day adds up pretty fast =$150/month plus monthly Telstra charge. You can see why I complain. And why his VPN is really the only way we’ve made work so far.
Edit: the $5 per day is only when you use it so your son could put it in flight mode until he messages you that he is going to call
 

Seat0B

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Interesting. But maybe a solution?
Yes it is how we currently communicate. But it isn’t really a spontaneous thing. I can’t call him unless I contact him first to run up his VPN software. But certainly better than not having the VPN.
 

TheRealTMA

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Yes it is how we currently communicate. But it isn’t really a spontaneous thing. I can’t call him unless I contact him first to run up his VPN software. But certainly better than not having the VPN.
Presumably an sms will get through to turn on VPN?
 

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