When it comes to online censorship, it’s hard to find the middle ground in the Middle East. Many mid-east countries are notorious for their varying levels of government control of private citizens’ online activity. The United Arab Emirates is no exception. Despite the modern skyscrapers and wealthy cyber image, the UAE inflicts some pretty harsh media regulations that prevent access to an open, free internet for its citizens, businesspeople, and tourists. Although there’s risk involved, the only way to bypass the draconian internet laws in UAE is a VPN.
In the UAE, we recommend ExpressVPN for its comprehensive and high-level security protocols and features designed to keep your internet connection private and safe.
In spite of internet restrictions, UAE is a highly networked society, with over 90% of its nine-million citizens having an internet connection. According to a recent survey, WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube are the most popular social media and sharing sites. UAE residents are also a highly mobile society, with 75% using their smartphones once a week or more to stream or download videos. Recently, the UAE government implemented a new Media Resolution, which seeks to enforce stricter guidelines for media content. For example, media content must respect Islamic religious beliefs and the state, and must not contain anything that may harm political security or the economy. In real terms, this means that there is a whole host of websites in UAE that are banned or blocked.
What Websites are Blocked in the UAE?
Rated as ‘Not Free’ by the international Freedom on the Net organization, the UAE is notorious for blocking access to a wide range of websites or internet services deemed inappropriate. These include:
- Dating websites
- Gambling/casino websites
- Networking sites that are considered by the government as ‘dating’ sites
- Pornographic content
- VOIP cheap online phone calls, such as WhatsApp calls
- VPN websites
- Some websites or pages that contain content critical of the UAE or its government
Get the Best VPN for the UAE in 2018
For citizens or visitors to the UAE, there’s an easy and cost-effective way to bypass restrictions to internet access. It’s called VPN, or Virtual Private Network. Using a VPN enables you to connect to the internet anonymously via a remote server in another country. VPNs use high-level encryption and tunneling technology to hide your internet connection, making it extremely difficult or impossible for the government or other entities to track and monitor your activity online. By connecting to a server in another country, it also enables you to access geo-restricted content.
When choosing the best VPN for UAE, there are a few key features to look out for:
- Privacy: In the UAE, staying anonymous online is critical to staying safe and free. A VPN that doesn’t keep activity logs, and uses the best encryption technology, is a must.
- Security: In the UAE, choose a VPN that uses advanced tunneling protocols to hide your online activity, allowing you to freely access restricted content.
- Speed: Apart from safety, you also want a comfortable and fast internet connection. Check out VPN reviews to see which ones are recommended in the UAE for reliable, fast connections.
- Kill Switch: in the event that the VPN connection drops out, you can prevent your device from automatically connecting to the internet via a kill switch. The kill switch instantly kills your internet connection if your VP fails, ensuring you are safe and protected online at all times. For the UAE, it’s essential to choose a VPN that has a kill switch feature.
Based on these criteria, here are our five choices for best VPN for UAE:
ExpressVPN is a solid choice for best VPN for UAE, covering all the necessary features with outstanding reliability and performance. With over 1700 servers, ExpressVPN is fast, and you’ll stay well protected with 265-bit AES encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, split tunneling and the essential kill switch feature. All price plans below come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Privacy and safety are the names of the game with NordVPN, which uses double data encryption, meaning your online data is encrypted twice for extra solid protection. With over 2500 servers, speed and reliability are solid, and a strict no logs policy and killswitch feature seal the deal for VPN in UAE. All price plans below come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
As a contender for best VPN in UAE, there’s a lot going for Safer VPN, including advanced IKEv2, Open VPN, PPTP and L2TP-IPSec security protocols, an excellent uptime record of 99.9%, over 700 high-speed servers worldwide, zero logging policy, and that all-important kill switch. All price plans below come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
More than 860 servers worldwide keep HideMyAss users well covered when using VPN in UAE. Solid security and kill switch are critical features, but HideMyAss truly excels in the easy-to-use interface, one-click connect, multi-language platform, and very good results in speed tests. All price plans below come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
PrivateVPN uses what they call military grade 2048-bit encryption, highest level protection on the market, combined with excellent speed, making it one of our choices for best VPN for UAE. Although PrivateVPN has fewer servers than our other choices, it stands out due to the no logs policy, and must-have kill switch feature. All price plans below come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Warning – UAE Bans VPNs
In 2016, the UAE announced a ban on VPNs. Unlawful use of VPN can result in temporary imprisonment and hefty fines. The law came as a nasty surprise to citizens and also to the business community, as the UAE had long positioned itself as a leader in the cyber market. In the wake of the new law, it is more important than ever to ensure you choose a secure VPN that does an outstanding job of keeping your online activity anonymous. For visitors to the UAE, make sure to sign up and download your VPN service before you arrive in the country, as VPN websites are blocked inside the UAE.
A Free UAE VPN is Not the Best VPN
It’s well known that any VPN you get for free simply won’t be able to provide the same level of security, privacy, speed or reliability that you can get from a paid service. When it comes to finding the best free VPN for UAE, you need to take into account that if it’s free, it simply won’t be as good. Having said that, if you’re traveling to the UAE for a short time, whether for business or leisure, you can take advantage of the 30-day free trial period offered by the VPNs recommended in this article. It’s not exactly free VPN for UAE, but it’s as free as you can get for a short-term need.
Which VPN Protocol is the Best for UAE?
With such high stakes in online privacy, using only VPN protocols that offer the highest level of security is strongly recommended in the UAE. OpenVPN is the ideal solution. First developed approximately 15 years ago, OpenVPN is open source VPN technology that features the most robust security, up to 256-bit encryption via OpenSSL, which is the leading software library for securing connections over networks. In addition, OpenVPN supports all platforms, so you’ll be covered on every device, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and a number of less widely used platforms as well.
Choose the Best VPN for the UAE
Maintaining online privacy and anonymity in the UAE is no laughing matter. Since the ban on VPNs last year, a free and open internet in UAE is slipping even further away. For UAE residents or visitors who want to make VOIP calls, such as WhatsApp or Skype – an everyday act taken for granted in western countries – or for those who simply want to access banned online content or websites, the last resort is a VPN. But even then, taking the utmost precautions is critical. Perhaps, one day, the UAE will embrace its cyber giant image and reopen some of these internet blocks. Until then, choose the most secure and best VPN for UAE, and stay safe.