I remember when I first moved to Japan that I would get my discounted pay phone calling card and walk to the only pay phone in the neighborhood that I knew could make international calls and make my bi-monthly call home. It seems pretty primitive now, but in the days before high-speed internet, it was expensive to stay in touch.
Nowadays, everyone uses Skype or some other internet-based calling software. Skype is a great way for people overseas to stay in contact, but until recently, it was illegal in the UAE. That's not to say that no one used it. Most people can find a way around the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority's (TRA) blocking it. What most people in Abu Dhabi don't realize is that Skype isn't actually illegal anymore. (Click here for details.) Now it's Etisalat blocking it. The TRA has shifted the responsibility of blocking Skype to the internet providers. Now there is a possibility that they may allow its use, but that remains to be seen.