Is There Life without WhatsApp in UAE?
Is There Life without WhatsApp in UAE?

Is There Life without WhatsApp in UAE?

31 october, 20223 minutes to read
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Last Tuesday, WhatsApp suffered a major global outage leaving millions of people around the globe without connection to each other.

Problems were first detected around 10 a.m. (Dubai time), according to Downdetector, which monitors outages across internet services. Users reported problems with sending and receiving messages. The service appeared to be restored about 2 hours later.

In the UAE, WhatsApp enjoys almost total penetration, making it a universal communication tool for thousands of businesses.  “Many clients already have important documents such as IDs saved on their phones, so sharing this type of information is super easy, and the end-to-end encryption gives you that added level of security,” says Lee, an automotive industry executive.

However, the recent outage has cast doubt on WhatsApp's reliability, with India's IT Ministry demanding report from the app on the reason for the outage. The episode had a huge impact on the way people see WhatsApp, leading many to sign up on Telegram, another globally popular messenger, for the first time.

“After the outage, I’ve noticed many of my contacts signing up on Telegram,” says Liubov, personal assistant to a high net worth individual, who has been living in Dubai for the last ten years.

Users, who already use Telegram, receive notifications when their contacts sign up on the messenger for the first time. “30 minutes after it became clear that WhatsApp was not working, I noticed all the managers from our partner restaurant signing up on Telegram,” says Leo Dovbenko, CEO and founder of Yalla Market, a quick delivery startup based in Dubai.

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Even though many have registered on Telegram, few have started actively using it.

I have downloaded Telegram but do not use it; I have not taken the time to understand the benefits or unique features of switching over from WhatsApp,

Lee told Durov’s Code.

“Everyone is signing up on Telegram because they have just heard of it. However, few really start using it, so not too many really get a chance to learn all the benefits of Telegram,” Liubov added.

Even though Telegram’s headquarters is located in Dubai, the messenger still has not gained much popularity in the UAE. Some say, local businesses have not yet got a chance to test all of the messenger's features.

Leo Dovbenko believes WhatsApp has a key advantage that makes it perfect for business communication.

“WhatsApp has a “Starred Messages” feature and this is what Telegram lacks,” the Yalla Market executive says. “Many people use this feature for marking tasks from work chats, so the starred messages become their to-do list."

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Telegram, however, has its own unique features. Firstly, It allows to create group chats with unlimited number of users, whereas for WhatsApp this number is just 256. Secondly, it gives users more control of the privacy of their chats and channels.

When we were launching in Dubai, I told our partners – let’s do it on Telegram, not WhatsApp,

Yalla Market CEO emphasized.

It remains to be seen, if users in the UAE will start switching to Telegram instead of using the Meta-owned platform. “People need to understand the features and benefits of the platform and how it can enhance their day-to-day life. If Telegram enabled voice/video calls in the UAE before WhatsApp, this could be a game-changer,” Lee concluded.

31 october, 2022
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