VPN for Saudi Arabia

Best VPN for Saudi Arabia (KSA) in 2021 for Safe Browsing and Streaming?

Last updated on May 5, 2021 Comments: 22

If you live in Saudi Arabia or travel there often, you likely know of the strict internet regulations imposed by the government. Accessing content that is considered immoral or against the teachings of Islam can results in some serious punishment (there have been cases of heavy fines, prison time, and even execution, so it’s not to be taken lightly).

Even if you think you are being sneaky, you can bet that the government has been surveying your online antics, as well as the antics of all its citizens. Popular VoIP applications such as Skype, Whatsapp, and Facetime are also restricted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so for expats trying to keep in touch with family abroad, this could become potentially problematic.

A VPN is the best way to get around the country’s restricting censorship policies. With such harsh punishments for those who break the law, it’s understandable if you’re worried about the legal implications of using a VPN in Saudi Arabia.

We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for Saudi Arabia as it works extremely well in high censorship countries.

The 3 Best VPNs For Saudi Arabia At a Glance:

If you want to know the extent of Saudi Arabia’s censorship policies as well as whether or not using a VPN there is legal in the first place, this guide has you covered. We also provide you with a list of the best VPNs for Saudi Arabia. Keep reading to find out more.

Why You Need a VPN in Saudi Arabia

By using a VPN you can connect to a server in virtually any location in the world. Alternatively, you can access a different Saudi IP address. In turn, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of the regional content without compromising on your safety.

VPNs are not illegal in Saudi Arabia, but it is still recommended that you download your VPN prior to heading over. This is because some VPN websites are blocked with the authorities blacklisting many VPN service providers there. VPNs are widely used in the country, and there hasn’t been a case of anyone being charged with a crime while using a VPN in Saudi Arabia up until this point.

Another important benefit of using a VPN in Saudi Arabia is bypassing censorship blocks. Unfortunately, the country has struggled with oppressive censorship for decades regarding all forms of media, but especially the internet.

With a VPN you will be able to bypass the firewalls set in place to restrict your internet access and have access to the open web. When using a premium VPN service, it is impossible for anyone to see whether you are downloading, streaming, or what you’re browsing.

How We Choose The Best VPNs for Saudi Arabia

It’s imperative that the VPN you entrust to access blocked content while in Saudi Arabia is of the highest quality, and offers only the best in security features to ensure that you will stay safe and anonymous during your time there. Here are the features we looked into to assure that our VPN recommendations will keep you protected:

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

Below, we will review the best VPNs for Saudi Arabia in more detail.

Best VPNs for Saudi Arabia

#1 ExpressVPN – Top-Notch Security With Zero Data Logging

Military-grade encryption | Unlimited bandwidth | Ultra-fast streaming speeds | No activity logs | No connection logs| Apps available for every device

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

We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for Saudi Arabia. This is because it doesn’t keep any identifying logs and also has some of the best security around. With more than 3,000 servers worldwide in 160 locations, you won’t have any issues connecting to a nearby server. It’s really important to protect your privacy in KSA, so the fact that ExpressVPN has data leak protection, state of the art encryption, and a kill switch is tremendous. As a bonus, you can evade revealing any personal information as you have the option to pay with cryptocurrency.

One of the biggest highlights of ExpressVPN is that you have access to the customer service team 24 hours a day via the online chat platform found on the ExpressVPN website. This is particularly handy if you have any technical issues that need resolving as soon as possible, particularly in a place like Saudi Arabia. You can also connect up to five devices with one subscription. Learn more about our features in our full review here.

ExpressVPN also offers a special deal, get 3 months free and 49% savings with their annual subscription plan!

Price: Starting from $6.67/month

Visit ExpressVPN

 #2 NordVPN – Excellent Privacy and Thousands of Server Options

5,200+ servers in 59 countries | IP Leak protection | Double VPN | CyberSec | Onion over VPN | Up to 6 Simultaneous Connections| Automatic Kill Switch 

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 is another contender for the best VPN for Saudi Arabia as it provides excellent privacy and security. A plethora of locations in 59 countries will afford you with more than 5,200 servers to choose from. NordVPN keeps zero logs of its users’ online activity (i.e. time stamps, session information, traffic logs, user bandwidth, IP addresses, etc.).

NordVPN users have the option of using the DoubleVPN feature which allows you to encrypt your online traffic twice, and multiple kill switches allow you to end your online activity should your VPN connection fail. Another excellent feature we love is CyberSec. This will provide you with adblocking as well as malware protection. With 24-hour customer service similar to that of ExpressVPN, you are assured that help is on hand whenever you need it. The ability to connect as many as seven devices simultaneously and the following features make NordVPN an excellent VPN solution for Saudi Arabia. Find out more about these features in our full review here.

Price: Starting from $3.71/month

Visit NordVPN

#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 Saudi Arabia is unlimited device support. Supporting all major devices, you can use it on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, FireTV, and routers. Another plus is the Whitelister feature which allows you to choose applications and websites to automatically bypass the VPN.

Surfshark’s Multihop feature hides your connection via a number of servers, while Camouflage Mode will mask your connection so that your ISP will not be aware that you are using a VPN in the first place. CleanWeb is an excellent option as well that will prevent malware or phishing attacks. Trackers and ads will also be a thing of the past with this feature. Check out the full review to learn more about Surfshark’s features.

Price: Starting from $2.21/month

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Internet Censorship in Saudi Arabia

In the early 2000s, the Saudi Arabian government began using a web filter for all internet access within the country which ensured them complete control as to what residents are able to view whilst in the country. It is estimated that since the year 2008 the government has blocked as many as 5.5 million internet links and sites.

Although internet access is fairly cheap and widespread around the country, there are excessive limitations placed on usage. It has also been noted that they have slowed down internet connections of some services and websites.

According to Freedom on the Net,

“Authorities block a wide range of websites under rules prohibiting content deemed harmful, illegal, anti-Islamic, or offensive, and do not tolerate criticism of the Saudi royal family or its allies among the Gulf Arab states, online or otherwise.”

That’s not all though. The murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi proved as to how dangerous it is to voice any criticism of the Saudi government. It means that voicing your opinion either in a text message or on the internet can not only land you in jail, but you could face even worse consequences.

In 2016, a popular messaging company Telegram was throttled in order to stop users from sending any messages or images via the communications platform. When purchasing a SIM card, mobile service providers are obligated to take and store your fingerprint.

So, what type of content is blocked in Saudi Arabia? Firstly, anything that is deemed immoral such as adult and gambling websites are off-limits. Otherwise, being publicly critical if either religious or government policies can be extremely detrimental to your safety.

The Saudi Arabian government also filters a large number of websites that fall under categories including:

  • Arts, Business and Economy, Entertainment, Health, News and Media, Recreation, Reference and Education, Regional, Science, Society and Culture

Freedom House explains,

“Authorities also seek to disrupt the dissemination of violent extremist content, sometimes resulting in the blocking of licensed news sites that have published photos of members of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. Pages related to pornography, gambling, and drugs are routinely blocked, as are websites that may be used to distribute copyrighted materials, such as the Pirate Bay.”

Choosing the Right VPN for Saudi Arabia

When it comes to choosing the right VPN for Saudi Arabia, you need to choose carefully and think about the safety features that will ensure your safety while using the internet.

Firstly, you will have to look for a VPN that is able to back up its encryption with a leak protection protocol and also have a zero-logging policy. When it comes to encryption, make sure to choose a VPN that offers military-grade encryption as that is the standard at the moment.

High-quality VPNs will provide you with easy access to news sites that are banned by the government, some of which can include content that is “offensive” or “anti-Islamic.” Should your VPN connection drop, you could be tracked whilst online. This is why you need to ensure that your VPN service provider will equip you with at least one kill switch. This tool will automatically stop your online activity should your VPN connection drop.

Lastly, it is recommended that you use a VPN with unlimited bandwidth as well as high-speed connections. This will not only make it easier on you when it comes to streaming, but it also allows you to keep your VPN connection running at all times, which is something we strongly recommend.

Should You Use a Free VPN in Saudi Arabia?

No. We cannot stress the importance of not using a free VPN in general, but especially in a place such as Saudi Arabia. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, free VPNs are supposed to protect you from online cybercriminals, however, as many as 38% of free VPNs have been found to contain malware.

Another issue with free VPNs is that most of them track your online activity, which is something you’re trying to avoid in Saudi Arabia in the first place. More often than not, free VPNs will track and collect your information and sell it off to the highest bidder for revenue.

Any free versions that come from reputable VPNs also normally come with bandwidth restrictions. This can be dangerous in Saudi Arabia as you can run out of data and be unaware that your VPN is not working and protecting you online.

It is very important to note that while a VPN will protect your identity online, engaging in illegal activity is still illegal. While protecting your privacy, you should remember that a VPN isn’t above the law, and while you are allowed to use this tool in Saudi Arabia, there are always risks involved when accessing content that is illegal. Of course, the chances of anything happening are extremely low, especially with a high-quality VPN service provider.

Saudi Arabia FAQ

It is legal to use VPN services in Saudi Arabia, and you will not be legally prosecuted for it unless VPN services are used for unlawful activities. Keep in mind that you might not be able to download your chosen VPN while you are in Saudi Arabia, especially not the best ones that will give you rapid access to your favorite websites and services. To make sure that you get the top and fastest VPN provider to keep your data private, download the app before entering the country and be one of many people who use VPN in Saudi Arabia every day.
VPN enables you to access blocked content by camouflaging your real IP address. VPN providers give you the new IP addresses making it seem as if you are in a different country, meanwhile allowing you access to the content the government blocks. As your real IP address is hidden, servers will track the new one provided by the VPN. That does not mean that you can engage in illegal cyber activities when using the VPN. Your VPN provider is usually able to trace your real IP address. Furthermore, any VPN company you choose can allow the police to track your IP address in case they suspect any illegal cyber activities such as hacking.
It is possible to hack a VPN, but it would be incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and complex to pull it off. Powerful software and years of work are needed for hacking data that is encrypted by VPN providers. Strict VPN protocols and encryption technology have greatly improved over the years to ensure that you have maximum privacy while you browse the web. Also, most users download VPN services for similar purposes; entertainment, browsing, and accessing communication apps blocked by the country. Hackers are not motivated to target such users. However, in case you download malware or viruses often found in spam e-mails on your mobile or computer device, a VPN will not be able to stop these viruses from reacting to your computer or mobile devices.

Conclusion

Living or working in Saudi Arabia can be a shock for those that have come from another country and are used to browsing and using the web freely.

The Saudi Arabian government works by filtering and blocking millions of websites on a daily basis, targeting both state and non-state sources. Forced content removal for any content that is deemed inappropriate or doesn’t gel with societal norms is very much a regular thing.

This means that it is very unusual to find any antigovernment or anti-religious content in Saudi Arabia. Users are monitored with their every online move tracked, with any wrong moves landing you in jail, or worse.

A VPN is the best way to get around government-imposed censorship, giving you the freedom to access content freely from all over the world. It doesn’t, however, give you a free pass in breaking the law.

Article comments

22 comments
Abdul says:

Great article, However, it has a lot of false information, I’m from Saudi Arabia, and all social media websites are not blocked and not throttled.

Sacha - Security Expert says:

After checking again we found that Saudi lifting ban on Skype, WhatsApp calls, but will monitor them, source: reuters.com (September 21, 2017)
The list of blocked website constantly changing, thank you for the input, i have included this info in our new review.
——————————————–
We did check as well from someone that live in Saudi Arabia and is a tech person, Blocked content is called in Saudi Arabia filtered content, all Saudi Arabia traffic goes “through a proxy farm located in King Abdulaziz City”, this has serious privacy issues, more info:

“Saudi Arabia directs all international Internet traffic through a proxy farm located in King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology. A content filter is implemented there, based on software by Secure Computing.[5] Since October 2006, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has been handling the DNS structure and filtering in Saudi Arabia in the place of KACST. Additionally, a number of sites are blocked according to two lists maintained by the Internet Services Unit (ISU):[6] one containing “immoral” (mostly pornographic or supportive of LGBT-rights) sites and sites promoting Shia Ideology, the others based on directions from a security committee run by the Ministry of Interior (including sites critical of the Saudi government). An interesting feature of this system is that citizens are encouraged to actively report “immoral” sites (mostly adult and pornographic) for blocking, using a provided web form, available on the government’s website.”
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Saudi_Arabia

Other interesting articles:
https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/917391/download
https://opennet.net/studies/saudi

If you have more details, please let us know, we will be more then happy to improve our content, you can contact me at info@securethoughts.com.

Coka says:

Popular media sites like Yahoo messenger and Skype are blocked in Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, VPN service is legal in Saudi Arabia, so if a user wants to unblock banned sites or access the list of blocked sites there, he needs a VPN.
Saudi Arabia is stated to be one of the most censoring countries. Thus, internet status is reported not to be free there. There are such violations as obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user right.
ExpressVPN is unanimously selected as the best VPN service out there. They have managed to garner praise with their top quality service consistently over the years. If a user is seeking simplicity and security, then they provide both. They have servers all over the world to give uninterrupted service to their clients. The registration process is really simple when it comes to ExpressVPN. Their customers appreciate their 30-day money-back guarantee scheme provided by them. Hence, ExpressVPN is a very popular VPN service in Saudi Arabia.
However, as ExpressVPN permits simultaneous connections to at most 3, a user might be bothered by the frequent reconnects to the server which he might not have been aware of.

Mohammed says:

Great article! I make use of NordVPN it’s really great and easy to use. It’s what I recommend to my family and friends. The costs of their services are pretty moderate costs! It’s really good.

Steve says:

Any idea if any of these VPN services will support P2P (ala torrenting) from Saudi Arabia? I work as a developer and we use a P2P program to transfer files. We had problems with it the last time we were in Saudi Arabia and we were recommended to use a VPN but we didn’t get a chance to test them at the time.

Recommendations?

ST Editor says:

Hi there, and hopefully you’re enjoying your adventure! Unfortunately, a large part of your internet connection is determined by the local ISP, so there’s only so much you can improve. However, there are some small hacks you could try to help get a little boost! First, try to look for networks that are password protected. They tend to have lower traffic, and thus offer better speeds. Additionally, try to reserve your heaviest browsing and streaming for periods when you know your local network is experiencing its lowest traffic. Finding wired connections may also help give you a more reliable streaming experience. Let us know if these strategies work for you! 

Amir says:

Countries Like Saudi Arabia has many limitations on the Internet.Many social media sites are also banned in these countries .So to access these Sites VPN is a very secure and easy way for accessing the blocked content.

Anonymous says:

Anyone know if there is a difference between connecting from Riyadh and the rest of SA? Going to be staying mostly in the city but might have to leave once or twice on business and need to know if I’ll still be able to get access to everything I use day-to-day.

ST Editor says:

Hi, There should be no issues, but it also depends on how strong the internet service is in the areas you are visiting outside Riyadh.

Amelia says:

Saudi Arabia is a nice place to roam for most of the tourists like me. I love exploring the world, know the unknown and see the unseen with my own eyes. It’s also a pleasure to keep in touch with loved ones when away from them. I started planning to visit Saudi Arabia this spring. The only problem here was FB blockage. Luckily, I’m a PrivateVPN user and with more alternatives from this page, I’m free from all the anxieties. Great job, Bryan.

Smith says:

Hi, can you tell me if it’s safe to purchase a VPN subscription while in Saudi Arabia using a credit card issued by a local bank? Can I get around this by using PayPal (never used it before)?

ST Editor says:

Hi! While the Saudi government is not very big on VPNs, they haven’t made any official moves to ban their use or purchase in the country (though they do block many VPN websites). However, if you’re concerned that you may be flagged if you use a local card, PayPal is definitely an option, as you don’t need a credit card to use it. Another solution may be to use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to pay for your services. Many companies accept them, and they offer a more anonymous way to purchase services. Hopefully, this helps! 

Sahahveer Ali says:

Can I use this VPN service for Egypt too? I am soon going to Egypt and I am concerned if I will be able to access my FB in Egypt. I have heard that FB is banned there. Please guide me in this regard.

ST Editor says:

Hi, and safe travels! The great thing about these VPNs (and others) is that they’re designed to work across borders. Because one of their biggest functions is to provide unrestricted access to the web and bypass censorships, most of these companies offer thier products anywhere in the world. They also should give you free access to blocked websites, though it’s important to learn about local laws and understand them before making any decision. If you do choose to use a VPN, the services on this page are all great options for you!

LIZZY says:

To get unrestricted access to websites in Saudi Arabia, use Express VPN today! It is network friendly and reliable.

Srikanth Abib says:

My VPN rocks here in Saudi Arabia. When I first subscribed, I though it would not work but I was wrong. I enjoy ExpressVPN

Alli says:

Great article. About to subscribe for a month on ExpressVPN so That I can use Skype. Hope it’s very fast and has a stable network?

Jeffrey says:

NordVPN has flawless connection and speed. A few minor problems with captcha and logins to various
sites.Part of the game though, I guess.

Alfie Cumming says:

I just downloaded Express VPN to use in Saudi, parted with $12.95 for the privilege of looking at the usual BBC statement that “Content is not available in your area”. I have also selected the area to emulate as being the UK. I have contacted the company for explanation. Just thought I’d let you know!

I know its not your fault but you are promoting this supplier as one that can be used successfully in Saudi. I have had other issues with other suppliers too, in not even being able to login. IPVanish was one. SuperVPN (Free) works perfectly on my android phone. Cannot install on my laptop though.

ST Editor says:

Hi Alfie, I contacted the brand through their customer support live chat and here are the steps they provided. While this is likely to help, if you still need support, they will be more than happy to assist you. Please contact them at the bottom, right corner on this page.
1. Turn off the ExpressVPN app.
2. Click on the “choose Location” button.
3. Go to ALL tab.
4. Click on the arrow before Europe.
5. Click on the arrow before United Kingdom.
6. Choose either East London or Berkshire – 2.
7. Try BBC iPlayer.

I hope this helps you from Saudi Arabia.

zakir khan says:

i need reentry papar

RC says:

Thanks for the info, I’ll be off to the KSA soon.

How does Express compare with VYPR?