Internet access in the United Arab Emirates goes through Etisalat, the only Internet service provider in the country. Unfortunately, Etisalat blocks many sites on the Internet, including the popular Skype text chat and voice over IP service (VOIP), as well as all other well-known VOIP services. While Skype itself is able to go some around some Internet blocks automatically, it is not capable of going around Etisalat's block without extra help. However, it's still possible to do so with a bit of extra work.
- Skill level:
Configure Skype to use a proxy server outside of the UAE. A proxy server is used as a go-between for requests from clients to the rest of the Internet. An up-to-date list of proxy servers can be found by searching the Internet. Unfortunately, Etisalat is aggressive at blocking newly opened proxy servers. In most cases, a new proxy server will not work for more than a few days. Configure the web browser to use the proxy server then run Skype. Skype will automatically pick up the proxy settings from the web browser.
Connect via SSH (Secure Shell) to another system outside of the UAE and create a SSH tunnel to a proxy server found in the previous step. SSH is used to establish a text-based connection from one system to another that is capable of running encrypted tunnels at the same time. A SSH client, such as Putty, is needed, along with access to a server running SSH outside of the UAE. SSH servers can be found through friends or by looking on the Internet. Once the SSH tunnel to the proxy server has been established, configure the web browser to use the proxy server, then run Skype, which will pick up the web browser settings.
Connect via VPN (virtual private network) to a network outside of the UAE. A VPN connects one network directly with another via an encrypted tunnel over the Internet. To find a VPN, search on the Internet for an organisation that provides VPN service. Follow the VPN provider's instructions to set-up and connect to the VPN. Once the VPN connection has been established, all Internet-bound traffic, including Skype's, will use the VPN automatically.
Use Remote Desktop to connect to another Windows computer outside of the UAE. Remote Desktop is a Microsoft program used to connect from one Windows computer to another. It is capable of producing sounds as well, which is needed for Skype's VOIP service. Find a friend or service on the Internet willing to allow access via Remote Desktop. Once connected, install Skype on the remote Windows system and run it from there.
Use a satellite Internet provider that is based outside of the UAE. They can be found by searching on the Internet. Satellite Internet companies cannot be blocked by Etisalat since they do not go over Etisalat's network, thus allowing Skype to work from within the UAE.
Tips and warnings
- Proxy server traffic that's not using SSH or VPN tunnels are not encrypted, and thus are subject to being monitored by Etisalat.
- If a proxy server is being used, Skype connections will have degraded quality but still usable.
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