[UPDATE]  This post is now outdated. Skype to Skype calls have been working in the UAE for quite some time now.  Skype-to-phone calls still do not work (conflicting reports).  But most recently the Skype website, which was previously inaccessible in the UAE, has now been unblocked and the application can be downloaded directly from there.  I have also heard that Google’s “Call Phone” option from within Gmail works for making international calls to phones globally from within the UAE.

Apparently Etisalat – the lone UAE telecoms provider – has figured out a way to block Skype. As the UAE touts its claims of freedom and progress, it continues to hinder one of the basic rights that we all have as humans – our freedom to speak. Skype is technically a very difficult program to block. They have put substantial amounts of resources into continuing to figure out ways to impede our use of the Internet and our basic freedoms. The only reason for blocking Skype is so that they can continue to charge exorbitant rates and to line their pockets with extra cash. And these claims of progress continue to echo under false pretenses whilst Voice over IP takes over the world by storm bridging gaps between people all over the world except in the UAE. Dubai, do you really want us to be left behind?!

But you know what, no matter how hard they try, we – the freedom loving people of the world – will always find a way to resist and regain our rights. All our voice calls will be free in a few years, whether Etisalat or the government of the UAE like it or not.

Now let’s get to the juicy part. It’s not hard to do and I promise you if you follow these instructions to the letter then it will all work out and you will have Skype back up and running in no time.

1. Download and Install FreeCap

2. Download and Install Vidalia

Use the default settings and locations for both of the above installs (just click ‘next’ ‘next’ ‘next’). Then when it asks you at the end if you want to run them, say yes.

3. Copy and paste the attached config file into C:\Program Files\Privoxy

When it asks if you want to overwrite the existing file, say ‘yes’.

config

4. Add skype to FreeCap

Start the FreeCap application if it is not already running (Start Menu -> All Programs -> FreeCap). Click on File -> New Application. Make it look exactly like what is written in the screenshot below. If the path to your Skype program is different then change it accordingly, however for most people what is below will be correct.

freecap.JPG

5. Make Skype use this cool new stuff we installed!

Once you have finished the above, click ‘OK’ and you should now see a little Skype icon inside FreeCap. Now in the main FreeCap window click on File->Settings. Make the settings page look exactly like the screenshot below. You should only have to change the Server and Port, and make sure that the Protocol is SOCKS Version 4.

FreeCap Settings

That’s it, we’re done!

Now close that settings dialog. Click on the Skype icon inside FreeCap and go to File -> Run. Skype should now connect. If it doesn’t then make sure that Tor is running, which means right click on the little cherry-looking thing you should now have in your system tray and click on “Start”. If the cherry thing is already green, then Tor is running. Skype will take a little longer to connect but be patient, it will work.

Vidalia

Optional: The above programs will automatically run when you start your computer. If however for some reason they are not running, you can copy and paste the startup file below to your desktop. Rename it from startup.txt to startup.bat and then double click it and all these new programs will start running again. Remeber though you must always run skype manually from within the FreeCap program (Start Menu -> All Programs -> FreeCap).

startup

Enjoy your freedom of speech and remember, it is your right!

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