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After being recently banned in China, the Clubhouse iOS app is now banned in Oman. The popular audio chat app Clubhouse has been restricted by the country’s telecommunication regulators citing fears over the platform being used across the Persian Gulf as a rare forum for discussion of sensitive topics in the region.
While talking to the media, Omar al-Abri, an official in the country’s telecommunications regulator said, the Omani government has banned the app as it was operating without a proper license.
Though the authorities did not clarify further on the licensing problem. It is also not clear if the ban on the Clubhouse app is temporary, or a ban placed by the government to attempt to suppress dissent in the sultanate.
Over the last few days, Clubhouse users witnessed they could not use the iOS app and started getting error messages. They were only able to use the app by using a VPN to bypass the restrictions. The clubhouse has not responded to any such news from Oman or anywhere else in the Gulf.
The clubhouse is an invitation-only social media app that has made a huge impact ever since it has made its appearance a few months ago. Traditionally when it comes to newspapers, television, or the internet the Sheikhs from the Persian Gulf have been restrictive. Vague laws to monitor the media and internet platforms and apps have been implemented.
Many private outlets impose self-censor out of fear, the police often petrol in riot-ready vehicles protected with chicken wire. The press is often described as “muzzled” by US diplomats.
The Clubhouse app has offered a platform for the people in Oman to discuss politics and social issues. The popular topics on the forum featured activists from Egypt’s 2011 uprising, feminists in Kuwait, government officials in Libya, and even a transgender woman in Saudi Arabia.
The future of the Clubhouse app in Oman is unclear, at least for now. The clubhouse has been raising eyebrows especially in countries like China where it is already banned. While Thailand has warned users not to “misuse” the app or face possible legal consequences.
Earlier this month the United Arab Emirates government had made clear they will not ban Clubhouse apps. Though users from across the nation have regularly complained about audio glitches which make listening into discussions impossible.