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Circumventing URL-based censorship
- back from my hols in dubai
- Obscure^


I just came from a holiday from dubai - a wonderfull city with a strong hold on media content. Everything, from megazines to tv and internet is prone to be censored!

I got into this Internet Cafe, and as soon as I tried to access Neworder [], I get a nice error page informing me that the page I was trying to access was restricted. You can immagine my frustration after paying 10dhs to find out that I'm not allowed to view content I'm used to.
Of course a few trickes let me circumvent this :-)

how censorship in dubai works

From what I understand, every http request in dubai passes through an HTTP proxy, and this proxy determines if the site is allowed or not depending on a URL ruleset. Certain sites are tagged as hacking sites, or pornographic sites etc - therefore they probably have multiple rule sets for several cathegories which are banned.

using proxies and socks

The most obvious way to circumvent URL checking is to use a proxy or socks. This is probably the most flexible way to connect to a restricted site, since all it takes is a setting in the Internet Explorer or Netscape configuration. However in my case, I couldn't connect to ports other than port 80 and irc ports since I was at an Internet Cafe. This means that I was restricted to use HTTP only.

using translator sites

Translator sites such as babelfish of, allow users to access other sites for translation. If the user chooses to translate an english site from italian to english, he will get a copy of the site on the Babelfish site. This means that if i'm translating, I'll get a copy of the site even though that certain site is blocked. It seems that the Emirates ISP (Emirates Telecommunications Corp) is aware of this and has blocked access to However users in Dubai and UAE will still be able to access other translation sites, such as (my favourite).


This writeup sucks, but anyway I was so pissed off at people closing access to information so here goes ..

some sites