best vpn dubai

The Best VPNs for UAE - Access Blocked Sites Anonymously

Last updated on May 5, 2021 Comments: 47

Although Dubai’s official tourism website boasts, “Discover all that’s possible in Dubai”, when it comes to their internet, you’ll find that’s not very much. Anxious to protect the “identity, traditions, ethics, morals and culture” of their country, Dubai has introduced some heavy censorship.

The same can be said for the wider UAE. A large amount of content on the internet is blocked in the UAE, a law implemented to protect those morals and ethics. Even when visiting relatively relaxed cities like the aforementioned Dubai, the larger country laws still apply.

If you are traveling to the UAE or Dubai and still want to access sites and applications such as Whatsapp or Skype, you should use a VPN not only unblock to the content but to ensure that you stay anonymous to hackers or prying eyes – whether they are from regulatory authorities or not.

It’s important to note that Dubai’s censorship also blocks VPN providers’ sites. This means you can’t easily install a VPN which would enable you to bypass the country’s restrictions and access whatever content you wanted. The only way around the problem is to install a VPN before you arrive in the UAE.

Here in this article, we investigate why a VPN works for circumnavigating these issues, what the best VPN for UAE censorship is and what the UAE’s regulatory approach to VPN usage is.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, our top recommendations for VPN providers for UAE usage are:

Why Do I Need a VPN for UAE?

Even if you don’t want to access more controversial or adult-only content, a VPN is the only way to open blocked sites and be free to comment on political issues without censorship. A VPN creates a safe tunnel to the internet where your activities are hidden from prying eyes, along with your IP address.

By encrypting your traffic, a reliable VPN will make it appear as though you’re operating from a different country, and therefore enable you to access geo-restricted sites. So with so much content blocked in the UAE, a VPN is a way around that problem. VPNs allow you to stream the TV shows you want to watch and to call friends on communication apps like Skype.

The Best VPN for UAE and Dubai

We stringently test all VPN providers and, with respect or usage in UAE, we looked for a number of features being provided as standard with all VPN packages. They are:

  • Server Location 
  • Security Protocols
  • Speed 
  • Privacy Policy
  • Customer Service

Below is the list of our top two VPNs for UAE.

1. ExpressVPN – Works Well In High-Censorship Countries

Top-Tier Encryption | Unlimited Bandwidth | P2P Enabled Servers | Kill Switch | Zero Logs Policy | DNS Leak Protection | IP Leak Protection | TrustedServer Technology | OpenVPN | PPTP

Streaming Services Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ITV Player, ESPN, YouTube TV, Fubo, beIN Sports, Sky Go, Vudu, Showtime, Hotstar, Crackle, Zattoo, Quibi, Direct TV Now

Compatible With: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Chrome extension, Firefox extension

ExpressVPN tops our charts continuously for several reasons, and it is easily the best VPN for UAE users and those in Dubai that the market has to offer. It ticks all the boxes in terms of what is required of a super-secure VPN with its quick and secure connection and unrivaled safety features.

ExpressVPN employs military-grade AES-256 encryption (the one trusted by the US government and security experts worldwide), as well as TrustedSever technology, which ensures that none of your data is ever written onto the hard drive of any computer.

Additionally, the VPN boasts a no logs policy as well as a kill switch, which keeps users anonymous at all times when accessing content that is otherwise forbidden in the UAE.

Price: Starting from $6.67/month

If you decide you love ExpressVPN during your trial, bear in mind that they’re offering a SPECIAL DEAL to Secure Thoughts readers: 3 months free (49% savings) on their annual subscription plan.

Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN – No Logging Policy

Double VPN | Tor Over VPN | CyberSec | Obfuscated Servers | Kill Switch | Zero Logs Policy | DNS Leak Protection | Onion Over VPN

Streaming Services Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ITV Player, ESPN, YouTube TV, Fubo, beIN Sports, Sky Go, and more

Compatible With: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Chrome, Firefox

NordVPN’s approach to its security techniques, ensuring its customers remain safe, secure, and anonymous whilst using their VPN servers, are also market-leading.

For starters, its strict no-logs policies mean that clients can be assured that none of their activity online is tracked, collected or shared with others. Its kill switch adds another layer of protection by automatically cutting any internet connection when a VPN unexpectedly drops out. It also uses a double VPN special feature that not only encrypts your data with AES 256 encryption, it does so twice.

Its connection is also very secure with its strict policies on anonymity and privacy. If the app does not work for you while streaming TV in Dubai, it also comes with a money-back guarantee. NordVPN gives you 30 days to try out their service.

Price: Starting from $3.71/month

Visit NordVPN

Want to learn more about the best VPNs on the market? Check it out here.

3. Surfshark – Unlimited Simultaneous Connections

Strong encryption | Zero logging | Unlimited bandwidth |Unlimited platform protection | Unlimited Server Switching | Some servers work with Netflix | Torrenting allowed | NoBorders feature

Streaming Services Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ITV Player, ESPN, YouTube TV, Fubo, beIN Sports, Sky Go, and more

Compatible With: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Chrome, Firefox

One of the biggest reasons we recommend this VPN for the UAE is unlimited device support. The VPN supports all major devices, so you can use it on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, FireTV, and other routers. Surfshark also offers a Whitelister feature, which lets you individually select all applications and websites you wish to automatically bypass the VPN.

Surfshark’s Multihop feature lets you hide your internet connection using multiple servers, while their Camouflage Mode masks your connection so that your ISP won’t know that you are using a VPN at all. CleanWeb is another great option that protects you from malware or phishing attacks.

Want to find out more? Check out Surfskark’s review here.

Price: Starting from $2.21/month

Visit Surfshark

Is it it Legal to Use a VPN in Dubai?

While it is technically legal to purchase a VPN in UAE or Dubai, it is very much illegal to use the VPN for “criminal purposes.” But what are considered criminal purposes? While those that are used to Western standards may see hacking or accessing the dark web as what would be deemed illegal, it is important to know that the UAE has a much more conservative attitude to what its citizens can access.

Therefore, accessing content and websites that are illegal in Dubai and the UAE is a criminal purpose. Some examples of online content that are illegal to access in Dubai are: social media sites, dating sites, and even online chat services like Skype. Although you might not consider these to be “Criminal”, keep in mind that they are not legal in Dubai, so buying a quality, trustworthy VPN is of the utmost importance to keep you safe.

Staying within the law is obviously very important, and up until recently, VPNs were totally legal to use in Dubai and the wider UAE. However, in 2016, a law was passed that made it illegal to use a fake network address, though users would only be subject to prosecution if they used VPNs or other software with the intention of ‘committing a crime or preventing its discovery’. Since then, rumors have abounded about what the restrictions actually are and what punishments might be expected if people contravene the law.

Currently, the law states that you can use a VPN as long as it’s a legal service and you agree not to use it for any criminal activity or to hide any such activities. Reports that those using a VPN needed to pay a 5000 AED fine and report to their local police station have been quashed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority who stated that the message was fabricated.

Using VPN in UAE – Bottom Line

If you want to access restricted content in the UAE and Dubai, using a VPN is really the only option available to you. Not only does it allow you to access that very content, it will allow you to do so anonymously. This last element is crucial as it means that you should largely be protected from being found out if you do want to access restricted sites. However, remember that it is not implausible for leaks to happen – even with the very best VPN providers – and if you are found to be accessing illegal content, you will still be subject to the laws of the UAE, regardless of whether VPNs themselves are legal.

Article comments

khalid belhoul says:

Hello, are online games banned in the UAE? I’ve been using this game called ROBLOX which was banned in may 2018 and I have a ton of stuff on it (it’s a Kids game and roblox was banned here since exploiters did some weird stuff with avatars but it got removed).

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Khalid,
It will depend on each individual online game. Most likely ROBLOX got banned in May and was part of a list of other banned games. But that’s not to say that ALL online games are blocked.

Tess says:

Could anyone give an update with regards the latest update about VPN in UAE 2018
it is legal or still illegal?

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Tess,
As of now, you can ONLY use a VPN legally in the UAE for approved services. Accessing any restricted content is illegal, and can be fined heavily. That’s why it’s important to use a VPN that you can rely on.

Melchor Gutierrez says:

How about if i stay only for two weeks.. Is there a vpn plan for two weeks? If yes, how?

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Melchor,

There is no plan currently for two-weeks. However, many VPN providers offer a 30-day money back guarantee. So you can sign up for the usual subscription, and then cancel it before your 30-days are up.

Robert Rea says:

I live in a relatively new tower block and find that no VPN will connect there, DU is my provider. Someone told me that in newer blocks they have managed to configure the network to block VPN access. Do you know of one I could acquire? I have Hotspot Shield, X-VPN and VPNProxy, all of which do not connect at home

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Robert,
Have you tried NordVPN? It works best for users in the UAE.

Albert says:

I have need a dubai vpn so plz guide me to purchase vpn to your website…

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Albert,
Please choose one of the VPNs listed in the article above, and click on the link. It will guide you directly to the VPN’s website where you can purchase the plan of your choosing and start watching all of your preferred content from Dubai.

alnuaimi says:

I need a VPN works on dubai and for free because i dont have VISA

Jerry Hines - Cyber Security Expert says:

Hey there,
If you’re looking for a free VPN, this article can help. However, you should know that these free VPN’s are not recommended for full privacy. ExpressVPN excels in privacy and anonymity, and it accepts PayPal, so a Visa is not necessary!

Prasanta Shee says:

Why to use VPN when you can use tools like R-HUB web video conferencing servers, webex, gomeetnow, gotomeeting etc. They work well and are not banned in UAE.

Sacha - Security Expert says:

Because you do not have the same level of security, privacy and anonymity. when surfing from UAE you need to understand that the government/ISP is tracking every connection. in few words you can get in trouble if you do not know what you are doing. those software you mentioned were not build for privacy and anonymity, The VPN we are reviewing here are 100% secure, no-log and we have tested them for DNS and IP leak etc…

Setu says:

Hi is it crime to watch adult movies using vpn in uae?

ST Editor says:

Hi, and thanks for the interesting question. To answer you concern, let’s start with the laws regarding adult content. It is still not permitted to access any adult content in the UAE, and such websites are blocked by the government. Viewing them carries a hefty fine. You can still access them through a VPN, and in many cases you will likely not be detected. However, the government can charge you with fraudulent use of an IP address, which also brings fines and other consequences. While a VPN can help you avoid the law, you should always learn a little more about local laws before deciding for yourself. Let us know how it works for you!

Meghami says:

In Dubai, VPNs are critical for businesses or nearly all companies to securely exchange data between their branches and their partners, and to allow their employees to work remotely. Without it, financial transactions will not be secure.
Furthermore, as popular social media sites like IMO and Skype remains banned, the cost of using a VPN on a daily basis also comes into consideration. Even though ExpressVPN is one of the most secure and fastest VPN in use today, its high subscription fee is a concern for many.
As Dubai bans the usage of VPNs and imposes strict internet usage laws, isn’t the high subscription fee also an added disadvantage for the user?

ST Editor says:

Hello, and thank you for the considerate question! We appreciate ExpressVPN because it allows users across the world to handle the business needs you’ve described easily alongside reliable speeds and security. We understand that many users have expressed concerns about the service’s high subscription fee, but it can be greatly offset when you purchase one of the company’s long-term plans. For a VPN that offers a strong combination of features, we feel the price is reasonable, but understand that each user has unique financial constraints and VPN needs. If you feel ExpressVPN is truly unaffordable, we recommend you take a look at the other VPNs we recommend in the article, which all provide great features and privacy protections when you’re accessing the web from Dubai. Let us know which service you choose!

Gem James says:

I was transferred to UAE for a year. I am still shocked that Skype barred. It’s almost unthinkable. I wasn’t able to use Skype till I stumbled upon your article and used Express VPN. It’s reliable and affordable I’d totally recommend.

Meghami says:

This article does provide helpful ideas for those visiting or residing in Dubai and might want to access popular apps like IMO that are banned in Dubai. However, as ExpressVPN is an expensive VPN for usage, there are other VPNs that are relatively cheaper like PrivateVPN as mentioned above. But such cost-friendly VPNs also provide the risk of inefficient privacy and protection which might prove vulnerable for the user as if detected by the authorities, legal actions might be taken as Dubai exhibits strict censorship and internet usage laws. Don’t you think ExpressVPN might not be the ultimate solution for this problem then?

ST Editor says:

Hello, and thank you for such a well-thought question! We base our recommendations on a rigorous series of tests that gives us a good idea of what a VPN can actually do in the real world. ExpressVPN is on the pricier side of the industry standard, but we recommend it because it offers a great combination of reliably fast speeds and excellent security features alongside a spotless record of bypassing geo-restrictions. However, choosing a VPN is not solely about performance, as you noted, and sometimes price is an important consideration. For this reason, we try to recommend a variety of options that can meet a broad array of users’ needs. All the VPNs you see listed are strong alternatives, and you’d be well suited with any of them. Let us know which you do end up choosing and why!

James Anderson says:

hey thanks for sharing information about vpn in UAE and it is very useful.Can you tell me about the vpn in China means can i access social media through these vpn in china also?

ST Editor says:

Hi James,
You’re very welcome!
As for travelling in China, please consult with the following article: best vpns for China.

Ahmed says:

Is still true that can’t use VPN from Dubai? Listed VPN is secure from govement police and will not get caught? Thanks.

Ilana says:

Hi Ahmed,
You can definitely use VPNs in Dubai. We re-confirmed with ExpressVPN, NordVPN and all the brands presented in this article for 2018.

Thomas says:

Do any of these providers other than PureVPN work for mobile devices? I will be traveling to Dubai in April and will need a VPN can work on my Smartphone, Tablet, Mac and Laptop. Yes, I actually use all of those (graphics and audio engineer).

I really don’t want to get multiple VPNs but I will if I have to. What do you recommend?

Ilana says:

Hi Thomas,
All of the VPNs provided above work on mobile devices as well. For more precise information, please consult with our best vpn for Android and best vpn for iphone review.

Daisy says:

Want to know, which of the VPN comes with a money back guarantee, I have seen people mentioning NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and am really confused here. I don’t even know the best trusted one to go for.

Ilana says:

Hi Daisy,
As per surveys, I know that the preferred choice is ExpressVPN even if it’s more expensive, based on the service performance. NordVPN and SaferVPN are trusted providers as well. They all have a money back guarantee of 30 days for you to try.

Ali Fakhar says:

Gosh! Thank you for such beautiful service. I was unable to get access to some of my apps in Dubai and now all of them are working perfectly.

Clark says:

I haven’t been to Dubai but I’m planning on taking my family there soon. I sure hope I can access all my social media pages over there? Can I also access Netflix while I’m there?

ST Editor says:

I Clark,
Yes you can, provided there are servers to connect to. You can easily get your answers via ExpressVPN, NordVPN or any other of the providers on this list via their live chat option.

Craig Daniels says:

These listed VPNs are good and I know. The moneyback is what I am concerned about. Is there guarantee on the 30 days moneyback as enlisted in NordVPN?

Ilana says:

Hi Craig, I assure you that NordVPN has a 30-day money back guarantee and that you fill get full refund for the service if you are not satisfied.

Misty says:

I had a very redundant but self-assuring system for my Dubai browsing. I obviously used expressVPN because they’re reliable though they are cost effective.

Karim Aziz says:

I have been trying to access a website in UAE since last week. Got a VPN and still not accssible. Please, could it be that All these VPNs are not working here as I’ve tried about 3 VPNs already. Help!

ST Editor says:

Dear Karim,
We can confirm that these brands do work from the UAE based on their confirmation and other users experience. However, your best bet would be to communicate with their live chat customer service (they are real people, not robots and are very knowledgeable) so that they trouble shoot together with you and walk you through the steps. The reason you are encountering issues is most likely dependent on more than 1 factor (device, streaming service, etc), so getting their direct assistance is the best thing to do.

Rishi says:

Hi lyndon
Can we use VPN fo Facebook calling or IMO calling in UAE? Or this also ban in UAE? Some people are still using VPN in UAE for call quality on facebook and IMO.

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hello Rishi,

Based on my understanding it should be possible, although as to the legality of a VPN in the UAE depends on how you use it. As I am not a UAE Legal expert of any kind, I would recommend checking with more detailed resources on the subject.


A. Higuera says:

Hi Rishi,
With vpn you should be able to do those things. I used a VPN when I was in Dubai and I can do FB and Netflix streaming without any issues.

Anthony says:

If I open with hidemyass…How long would I be on the sites. Whenever I use Vpn to sign up on the site, they block me after few day. I will be getting email notifications but I can’t log in to the site. Any help suggestion would be helpful and very much appreciated. Thanks

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hello Anthony,

I’m afraid I’m not certain enough about your problem in order to properly solve it. It could very well be an issue with Match, and it might be prudent to contact their customer service to find your answer. Depending on how the sites logs and tracks IP addresses (they could get suspicious about different logins from different places) a VPN could simply not work for the dating service.

Hope this helps!


Savith says:

It seems tht every vpn has been restricted in uae and if we use this they might take a particular action towards it. So wat ever vpn u have talked about is safe or not for viber,whatsappcall etc

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hey Savith,

So Dubai is a special situation in that they banned VPNs in the country. We believe these are the Best VPNs for the country at the time being with that in consideration, but each user has to weigh the benefits and costs for themselves.

Hope this helps,

Karl says:

Awesome post, very informative. Was thinking of how to stream on Netflix when I go there for holiday this Christmas. I really hope Express VPN is fast there.

Angela says:

Hello Jen,

Hope you can help me…I have a friend working in Dubai (Suadi). She got the job through an agency. She applied as a nurse and when she arrived there, she had trouble with her VISA, it now turns out that she is there as a teacher (which she is not at all). Now she is blocked on their system and can’t get a VISA. Can you help? What can we do?

Lyndon Seitz says:

Angela you would need to speak with a lawyer about this.