Skype, Facetime & Whatsapp in Oman Summary
Here’s the TLDR version…
Does Skype work in Oman? How about Facetime in Oman? Whatsapp calls?
Nope. None of them will work.
Without a VPN, you cannot use Skype in Oman or Facetime in Oman. Or Whatsapp calls. (Whatsapp messaging should be okay.) To solve this, download NordVPN before you visit Oman! And if NordVPN doesn’t work in Oman, try ExpressVPN.
Note this article covers Oman specifically but you’ll find that NordVPN and ExpressVPN will work in other places like the UAE, Qatar and Jordan too!
Background: Trying to Use 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 use Skype in Oman on my laptop or my iPhone, my clients would suffer and I would also suffer financially. Nobody wants to suffer financially, especially me. 😉
I tried all the conference line services that I use (all, coincidentally, VoIP) 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. Then I checked Facetime and Whatsapp calls and they were blocked too. Frustrating!
Finding a VPN for Oman
The answer was clear: Any of my normal work tools would require using a VPN in Oman — basically, I needed to trick Skype into thinking I was in the UK or the US. But which VPN to choose? I asked a couple of friends for recommendations and then I was an idiot and did nothing before my flight to Muscat. (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! Set it up, log in and test it out too! Make sure you set it up on both your phone and your laptop as I’ve learned the configurations can be different for both. As an additional tip, right down the support email address and keep it in a safe place in case you are TOTALLY blocked and need to contact your provider for help.)
So I arrived in Oman and got a SIM card for my 2nd iPhone, so that was good. This was a very easy transaction at the Muscat airport. The SIM card worked immediately, which is faster than it has in other countries like Thailand and Malaysia where you have to wait for the card to be activated. I was immediately online and followed Google maps as my taxi made its way to my hotel. BUT…having a data package wasn’t going to help me if I still couldn’t use Skype in Oman or make any other sort of VoIP calls (Voice over IP) with Facetime, Whatsapp or similar.
I tried downloading the VPN services my friends had recommended once I was in my hotel room in Muscat, 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.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a “virtual private network.” It lets you protect your internet activity — both by making it more secure and making it more anonymous. It’s good to have a VPN if you frequently use unsecured wireless hotspots or if you travel to parts of the world like Oman and China where certain internet sites are banned or blocked.
How to 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 iPhone and to my laptop, where I do the majority of my Skype calls from.
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 found the NordVPN interface super easy to use on both my laptop and my iPhone. 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 calls so again I had to start up the VPN and it worked perfectly. Then I called my mom on Facetime! Amazingly, I was able to unblock Skype, Whatsapp calls, and Facetime! I made everything work!
Using a VPN in Oman had other benefits as well which I didn’t realize until after the fact. Whenever you are 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 in the comments below.)
Wireless Headset I Recommend for Skype in Oman
Why Does Oman Block Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp Calls and Other VoIP Services?
If you’re curious why Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp calls and similar services are blocked in Oman, apparently it has more to do with preserving the profits of local telecoms than anything else. Actually, it may only be one telecom…Omnatel.
NordVPN…The Best VPN for Oman: Skype, Facetime, & Whatsapp
If you travel a lot like I do and often find yourself in countries like Oman where Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube and other VoIP and Internet services are blocked, I highly recommend using a VPN and accessing these sites by proxy! My personal experience with NordVPN was highly positive and I highly recommend it as the best VPN for Oman. Perhaps the only downside was that it took ages to download it on my laptop because the file was 20 MB and my internet connection in Oman 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. For me, the best VPN for Skype in Oman is NordVPN. Sign up for NordVPN here.
ExpressVPN: A Great Backup VPN for Skype, Facetime & Whatsapp in Oman
If you are having trouble getting to NordVPN, try ExpressVPN. While I have not used ExpressVPN in Oman, I used it extensively in China and have nothing but good things to say about it.
Which Other Countries Countries Block Skype, Facetime, and Whatsapp?
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 (including Amman), Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, Tunisia, Vietnam, Russia, and Venezuela.
So…Can You Use Skype in Oman and Other Places Like Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE in 2018?
Note: I hadn’t planned on writing a post about NordVPN until I couldn’t use Skype in Oman. This VPN unblocked Skype for me 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.