Using Skype in Oman
If you’ve been to China, you’re familiar with the “Great Firewall,” which prevents you from accessing the Internet and websites like Facebook without a VPN. (Wikipedia has a handy list of all the websites that are blocked in China in case you are interested.) I can live without Facebook (really I can), but I cannot live without Skype. I depend on Skype calls to make my living, so during my recent trip to Oman, I was in a panic. If I couldn’t make Skype calls from Oman, my clients would suffer and I would also suffer financially. Nobody wants to suffer financially, especially me. 😉 What to do when Skype calling was blocked in Oman?
I tried all the conference line services that I use and none of them had local numbers in Oman, so I needed something that would let me dial the US and UK from Oman easily and cheaply. My hotel was no help whatsoever. All they could tell me was that yes, Skype was blocked in Oman and I wouldn’t be able to make calls.
Finding a VPN in Oman
The answer was clear: I would need a VPN in Oman. But which one? I asked a couple of friends for recommendations and then I was an idiot and did nothing. (Don’t be like Krista. If you’re visiting a country like Oman where the internet is blocked, sign up and pay for a VPN before you leave! Test it out too!)
I arrived in Oman and got a SIM card for my 2nd phone, so that was good. (This was a very easy transaction at the airport. The SIM card worked immediately, which is faster than it has in other countries like Thailand and Malaysia.) BUT…having a data package wasn’t going to help me in Oman if I still couldn’t access Skype and make calls.
I tried downloading the VPN services my friends had recommended, but — surprise — their websites were already blocked in Oman. I couldn’t even get to the websites. Then I remembered some ads I had seen for NordVPN while I was doing my research before my trip.
Unblock Skype in Oman
Luckily, NordVPN’s website wasn’t blocked in Oman (yet) so I was able to sign up and download the VPN service, both to my phone and to my laptop, where I do the majority of my Skype calls from.
Last Friday, I had to do about five hours of Skype calls while I was in Oman when I discovered Skype was blocked! I fired up NordVPN and it worked a treat. First, I told NordVPN I was in Ireland. Perfect. Then for fun, I tried Germany. (I don’t recommend choosing Germany unless you can read German because then whenever I tried Google’ing anything, die Resultaten waren auf Deutsch.) These choices tricked Skype into thinking that I was *not* in Oman. I had unblocked Skype and the internet in Oman!
I found the NordVPN interface super easy to use on both my laptop and my phone. NordVPN also helped me later in the weekend when a client wanted to call me on Whatsapp. Although Whatsapp messaging worked fine in Oman, Oman has banned all Whatsapp VoIP (Voice over IP) calls so again I had to start up the VPN and it worked perfectly. I was able to unblock both Skype AND Whatsapp!
Using the VPN had other benefits as well which I didn’t realize until after the fact. If you’re using free hotel wifi, you are vulnerable to hacks. Using a VPN while you’re surfing lessens the possibility of those attacks and also prevents people or organizations from monitoring your Internet usage. (See the comments from my friend Rich below.)
Why Does Oman Block Skype and other VoIP services?
If you’re curious why Oman blocks Skype and other Internet and VoIP services, apparently it has more to do with preserving the profits of local telecoms than anything else.
If you travel a lot like I do and often find yourself in situations where Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube and other Internet services are blocked, I highly recommend you get a VPN! My personal experience with NordVPN was highly positive and I highly recommend it. Perhaps the only downside was that it took ages to download NordVPN on my laptop because the file was 20 MB and my internet connection was a max of 10 Mbps. But that was a small price to pay for connectivity and if I had set this up before I left London, I wouldn’t have experienced any problems. Sign up for NordVPN here.
Which Other Countries Countries Block Skype and Similar Services?
According to NordVPN, Skype and similar VoIP services are also blocked in Guyana, Kuwait, Libya, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Syria and the UAE. Skype is also sometimes blocked in Belize, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, Tunisia, Vietnam, Russia, and Venezuela.
Note: I hadn’t planned on writing a post about NordVPN until I went to Oman and couldn’t make any Skype calls. This VPN unblocked Skype in Oman and seriously saved my ability to get work done. This is an honest review and not a sponsored post, but because I am now such a fan of NordVPN now, this post contains affiliate links.