Hordes of jet-setters, international students, and expats use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services like Skype every day to keep in touch with their friends and family back home. However, in some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Skype and similar services are blocked entirely. In fact, in the UAE, the only permitted VoIP services are Botim and C’Me. The problem is that both services come with high monthly fees.
There is a workaround, however.
We get into plenty of detail on each of the providers we review, but if you only have time for a quick summary, here is our list of the best VPNs to unblock Skype in the UAE:
- NordVPN Our #1 choice for unblocking Skype in the UAE. This provider has a great record at unblocking geo-restricted and censored services. Top speeds and strong security. Includes 30-day money back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget alternative. Impressive security and privacy features. Adept at unblocking.
- ExpressVPN Large network of servers that spans over 90 countries. Can unblock almost anything. High-end privacy and security.
- PrivateVPN New newest network here with smaller server list, but great for unblocking chat and streaming services.
By connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can mask your IP address, making it appear that your internet traffic originates in a different country. This allows you to download software and visit websites that are ordinarily inaccessible from within Dubai, Qatar and elsewhere in the UAE. VPNs also encrypt your data, preventing it from being read by third parties like your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
In this post, we’ll explain why the UAE blocks Skype and how you can bypass these restrictions using a VPN. We’ll also recommend the best VPNs for the UAE and the risks associated with free VPN services in the UAE.
How to unblock Skype in the UAE
It’s actually fairly simple to unblock Skype with a VPN, even from countries like the UAE, Qatar, Libya, and Kuwait, where the service is supposedly inaccessible. Just follow the steps below.
Here’s how to use Skype in UAE:
- First, use a suitable service. Many VPNs don’t work in the UAE, so choosing the right one is vital. (We recommend NordVPN.)
- Download and install the VPN software. Several different versions will be available, so make sure you install the right one for your device.
- Connect to a server in a country that doesn’t block Skype.
- Wait until you’re connected. Now, download Skype. Once it’s installed, you should be able to make and receive calls without any problems.
UNBLOCK SKYPE FREE: If you’re only in the UAE for a short time (for instance, if you’re on vacation) and don’t want to commit to a long-term subscription, you can use NordVPN’s 30-day trial to unblock Skype for free. You will be required to pay upfront, but can cancel at any time during this period for a full refund.
Best VPNs for unblocking Skype
While there are hundreds of VPN services available, only a handful work reliably and have great call quality inside the UAE. To find the best VPNs for unblocking Skype in the United Arab Emirates, we looked for services which met the criteria below:
- Is capable of bypassing the UAE’s internet restrictions
- Has connection speeds fast enough for high-definition streaming and high call quality VoIP
- Offers numerous servers in a wide selection of different locations
- Uses strong encryption and includes other advanced security features
- Does not log any information which could identify you
Below, you’ll find our list of the best VPNs for the UAE:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our first choice for a UAE VPN. It tops our list of the fastest VPNs and operates a huge network. Users can choose servers designed for activities like streaming, file-sharing, and gaming, or choose one of its more than 5,500 servers (across 59 countries) directly. This means you’ll always have a nearby server, increasing the chance of a low-latency internet connection, and ensuring your Skype video calls are crystal clear and delay-free.
NordVPN offers more security options than many of its rivals. In addition to its 256-bit encryption, application-specific kill switch, and DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection, it offers automatic ad-blocking, malware-scanning, dual VPN functionality, and even the ability to connect to Tor over a VPN. NordVPN does not log any personally identifiable information, so you can rest assured your activities will remain private at all times.
This VPN has apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS systems. It can also be installed on Linux-based platforms and supported network routers, although manual configuration is required.
- Strong encryption and no logs make for top security and privacy
- Unparalleled network – over 5,500 servers across 59 countries
- Extremely fast and reliable downloading and streaming speeds
- Connect 6 devices concurrently
- 24/7 chat support are well trained to handle complex situations
- Can only select a server location, not a specific server
BEST VPN FOR SKYPE IN UAE:NordVPN is our top pick. It has incredible speeds and works well with Skype in UAE. Boasts strong security features and allows up to 6 devices to be used simultaneously from one account. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a low-cost VPN that’s a strong choice for streaming thanks to its exceptional unblocking capability and 3,200+ servers across 65 countries. These qualities also mean it’s an ideal candidate for those looking to use Skype when abroad. Best of all, Surfshark has no connection limit, meaning you can protect all of your devices with a single account.
This service doesn’t compromise when it comes to security. It keeps you safe using 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch (in every version). This service doesn’t log any personally identifiable information, although you can sign up using Bitcoin if you’d prefer. Customer support can be reached 24/7 via live chat in the event of any problems.
Surfshark has MacOS, iOS, Linux, Windows, Android, and Amazon Firestick and Fire TV apps. Manual installation is required to work with internet routers.
- Decent, reliable speeds
- Kill switch on all platforms
- Works in the UAE and China
- No limit on connections
- Occasional slow server
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark offers very high speeds, excellent security and digital privacy features, and the ability to use Skype anywhere. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN provides access to more than 3,000 servers in 94 different countries. Further, it’s fast enough to stream HD video fluidly, with no noticeable buffering. This means that as well as unblocking and streaming from popular platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN allows you to have lengthy, uninterrupted Skype conversations.
Your internet traffic is kept private using a combination of 256-bit military-grade encryption, perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch (in the desktop apps), and protection against WebRTC and DNS leaks. ExpressVPN doesn’t log any personally identifiable information, just the email address you registered with. As such, if you use a throwaway email address and pay with Bitcoin, you can browse completely anonymously. Customer support is available 24/7 via live chat in case you encounter any issues.
This service offers apps for all the most popular operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS). It can be manually installed on wireless routers in a few minutes with ExpressVPN’s custom router firmware.
- Operates a network of more than 3,000 servers spanning 94 countries
- Well-designed mobile device and desktop apps
- An easy-to-use app that installs with a wizard
- High-grade encryption, security and privacy throughout
- Not the cheapest provider in this list
- May not offer enough control for advanced users
EXCELLENT SECURITY:ExpressVPN another solid choice. It has a vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections. Excellent online privacy and security. Unblocks lots of streaming sites. Plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN might not have the largest server network, with just 76 globally, but it does provide higher speeds than most of its competitors. Since Skype is a fairly data-intensive program, particularly during group calls, this makes PrivateVPN a strong choice, particularly for those who have slower internet to begin with. PrivateVPN is also capable of unblocking popular services like BBC iPlayer and Hulu, so you can use it to stream TV from back home if you’re in the UAE on vacation.
This VPN uses 256-bit encryption, protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks and a strict no-logging policy to help keep your personal data safe. There’s also a kill switch in the Windows app, with similar functionality coming to Mac devices soon. PrivateVPN goes above and beyond with customer service; the team are reachable 24/7 via live chat and can even install the software remotely with your permission.
This service offers apps for Windows, Android, iOS, and MacOS. Manual installation is required for Linux systems and network routers.
- A low-cost option that works in the UAE
- Gaining a reputation for unblocking popular geo-blocked sites and services sites
- Digital privacy and security are top-notch
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
GREAT SPEED:PrivateVPN is a good family choice. Works well with Skype and allows up to 6 devices on the same account. Small server count. 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
Why is Skype blocked?
In the UAE, VoIP providers are required to have a special license before their services can be used. The problem is, to date, only two services are available, both of which are run by Etisalat, a national ISP. The exact reasons for this requirement are unclear, but the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) lists one of its goals as “[ensuring] that licensees adhere to quality standards of performance.” You’d think that with 300 million active users worldwide, Skype would qualify, but apparently not.
There may be an ulterior motive to this ban. The UAE has a history of strict internet censorship. Also, many VoIP services including Skype and WhatsApp now offer end-to-end encryption. This makes it incredibly difficult for the government to monitor user activity. This isn’t mere speculation; the UAE already has strict rules on VPN usage, most likely for a similar reason.
Can I unblock Skype with a free VPN provider?
Using a free VPN service is generally a bad idea, but even more so when in the UAE. These services usually have fairly small networks and limited IP address ranges, yet more users than premium services. This leads to extremely slow speeds, long wait times for servers, and monthly data limits. As a result, you’re likely to experience video chat that hangs, stuttering audio, and possible call disconnects when using a free VPN provider with Skype.
Unfortunately, as these services don’t charge their users directly, they’ve had to find alternative — sometimes shady — ways to make money. They might insert ads into the pages you visit, or store tracking cookies on your device that allow the service to monitor your activities. This information isn’t recorded for no reason; it’s highly valuable and can be sold to third parties later, usually without your express permission or knowledge.
Free VPNs aren’t known for their security. Even assuming you install a legitimate app and not one designed to infect your system with malware, research shows that a huge percentage of free VPNs are vulnerable to IPv6 leaks. Worse, some don’t even encrypt your traffic at all, meaning you’re actually less secure than with no VPN. These risks extend to larger providers too; we’ve even seen a major free VPN sell its internet users’ bandwidth to help run a botnet.
Skype in UAE FAQ
Are VPNs legal in the United Arab Emirates?
VPNs have many legitimate uses and are used legally all over the world. For instance, remote employees can use them to connect to their employer’s internal network, gamers can protect themselves from DDoS attacks, and users can stay safe when connected to public wifi networks. However, with VPN legislation varying from one location to another, it’s important to know the local laws when you visit another country. So, are VPNs legal in the UAE?
Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2012 On Combating Cybercrimes (PDF), article 9 describes punishments for those who use VPNs to commit, or conceal evidence of, a crime. However, it does not make VPN usage inherently illegal.
We recommend carefully researching the UAE’s copyright, cybercrime, and VoIP legislation before attempting to use a VPN in this country.
What other sites and services are blocked in the UAE?
The UAE has some of the most heavily-restricted internet access in the world. Below is a list of the types of content automatically censored by the country’s government. Note: as the TRA does not publically list every banned website, there may be additional categories of material that are not mentioned below.
- Pro-LGBT content
- Religiously sensitive material
- Anti-UAE content
- Proxy servers and VPN-related websites
- Unlicensed communications platforms (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.)
Will Skype ever be available in the UAE?
Microsoft and Apple are currently in talks with the UAE regarding bringing Skype and FaceTime back. However, it’s likely to be a slow process. After all, ISPs are unlikely to provide access to services that guarantee they’ll lose money.
Both tech giants are investing heavily in the UAE. Microsoft is building two new data centers there and Apple is opening several new stores across the country, so it’s certainly possible that a compromise could be reached. Sadly, with a petition calling for Skype to be unblocked swiftly taken down by ISPs, it seems significant international investment may be the only way to change the government’s mind.
Can people still see my Skype presence status if I use a VPN?
In theory, using a VPN shouldn’t have any impact on your Skype presence. You are, after all, only changing the way your data is sent across the internet. That said, some people have reported that after connecting to their VPN, their presence displays as “Presence unknown”.
There are two simple solutions to this issue. First, you could change your presence manually: to do this, just go to chats, click on your profile photo, select Presence status, and pick whichever suits you best. Alternatively, if you’re in a country where Skype isn’t blocked and your VPN supports split tunneling, you could just let Skype bypass the VPN entirely.
Will Skype and a VPN work on public WiFi?
When traveling, it’s not just the government’s internet restrictions you’ll have to contend with; plenty of public WiFi hotspots have their own list of blocked sites on top of this. The good news is that by connecting to a VPN, you can simply route your traffic through servers in another country. These aren’t affected by the UAE’s web-filtering, meaning you’ll be able to access just about anything as long as you use a server in a country with a relatively open internet.
In other words, if you’d like to unblock Skype while on public WiFi, just connect to your VPN. Remember: if there’s any doubt as to the legality of doing so in your location, it’s best to do your research beforehand.
How do I delete my Skype call history when I'm in the UAE?
It’s actually really simple to delete conversations and individual messages on Skype. In fact, all you have to do is right-click the thing you’d like to delete (or tap and hold, if you’re on mobile) and click Remove or Delete conversation. This isn’t a completely foolproof method, and any investigator will still be able to find traces of your deleted messages, but it should be good enough to pass a cursory inspection.
Does Skype for Business work in the UAE?
Normally, Skype for Business is completely blocked, just like most other international VoIP services. The UAE did lift restrictions on some popular apps in March 2020 to enable citizens to communicate more easily during the pandemic, but this is under periodic review and will almost certainly be a temporary measure. As such, you’d usually either have to find a state-approved communications app, or use a VPN to access Skype for Business in the UAE.
Can I buy Skype Credit in the UAE?
It is technically possible to purchase Skype Credit in the UAE, but you’ll need a VPN and a payment method from a second, supported country. You could add to your balance using a Skype gift card as these are widely available online and can be delivered to your email inbox in minutes. Just make sure you’re purchasing a card with digital delivery, not one that has to be physically shipped to you.
Unfortunately, even once you’ve added Skype Credit, you’re not out of the woods. Many users in the UAE experience intermittent connections when calling landlines and mobile devices using Skype credit, although PC-to-PC calls seem to be fine, at least for an hour or so.
- How to unblock Skype in the UAE
- Best VPNs for unblocking Skype
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. PrivateVPN
- Why is Skype blocked?
- Can I unblock Skype with a free VPN provider?
- Skype in UAE FAQ
- Are VPNs legal in the United Arab Emirates?
- What other sites and services are blocked in the UAE?
- Will Skype ever be available in the UAE?
- Can people still see my Skype presence status if I use a VPN?
- Will Skype and a VPN work on public WiFi?
- How do I delete my Skype call history when I'm in the UAE?
- Does Skype for Business work in the UAE?
- Can I buy Skype Credit in the UAE?