Best VPN for UAE
Bernard Hastings | Last Updated:
Recent data reports show that there are 9.75 Million people in the United Arab Emirates that use the internet. This represents almost 99% over the entire UAE population. Despite this access, the citizens of this Arab country located on the Arabian Peninsula are subject to some of the most severe restrictions globally. The UAE Government restricts internet access heavily, dictating what websites you can visit. In the Emirates, some pretty major websites and platforms are entirely blocked out. Popular communication apps such as SnapChat, Skype, Twitter, and WhatsApp are banned. Etisalat and du are the countries two main ISPs, and are the ones responsible for carrying out the UAE Govt ban on all VoIP communication. This effectively means that all messaging services that cut out phone and ISP providers are completely forbidden in this country.
If you live in the UAE, or indeed if you are travelling to the UAE for business or holidays, the question is what can you do here beyond accepting a massive limit on your freedom of expression and internet use? The best VPNs for the United Arab Emirates can get around this problem. A VPN is a very simple solution to use that restores freedom to your internet use. With a VPN you can access any site, get around geo-restrictions, and add a layer of extra online anonymity. Below are details for what you need to know to get started.
How does a UAE VPN keep you Safe ?
Without a vpn, when you connect to the internet, all of your traffic is first sent to your local ISP (ie. Etisalat and du) who then pass your information onto the websites that you are trying to visiti. In the UAE, the local ISPs monitor your traffic, and if they see that you’re trying to connect to any website that is on the UAE Governments banned list, then access to those websites is completely blocked. More worryingly for local citizens of the Emirates, is that the ISP takes a record of you and the website that you were trying to access and passes this information onto UAE Government officials. The next step is that you can expect a knock on the door from an Emirates government representative. The penalties for flouting the UAE Government’s strong censorship laws can be extreme including fines of up to $500K USD and even imprisonment.
You can avoid this happening by using a virtual private network (VPN) service. When you connect to the internet with a vpn, the vpn software on your device (computer, laptop, phone, etc) established a highly secure ‘tunnel’ (also known as a ‘network’ hence the name VPN) between your computer and the vpn server that you’re connected to. All data within this vpn tunnel is safely and securely encrypted so that even if a UAE Government Official does manage to intercept you’re data they simply won’t be able to read it. The vpn encryptions protocols will just present your data as an unreadable garbled mess to them. However, once your data reaches the vpn server that you’re connected to, the vpn server then automatically un-encrypts your data and passes it onto the website that you’re trying to access as normal. You’re now free to access any websites that you wish without any UAE Government interference.
How to Use a VPN in UAE
Using a VPN is actually really simple and you don’t need to be very technical to use one. Everything that we described above happens automatically behind the scenes for you, so you definitely don’t need to be concerned with any of these technical details. To get up and running quickly and easily, below is our step-by-step guide:
Quick Guide: how to use a VPN in the UAE
- Sign up for vpn that has excellent security credentials – we strongly recommend ExpressVPN
- Download the app for your device (iOS, Android, PC, Mac)
- For best connection speed, choose a server location close to UAE
- Open your internet browser and use it as normal, but with extra privacy and a new location.
The Best VPNs for United Arab Emirates
That’s how easy it is to use a VPN in the United Arab Emirates. They aren’t all created equal though. The best ones don’t slow you down and offer the highest degrees of online privacy and security. Others though, not so much. If you don’t want to be detected by the UAE Government, it’s important to choose the correct vpn service provider. Here are our tips for best UAE vpn to stay safe and sound:
- Supported Devices:
Out of all of the VPNs for United Arab Emirates, ExpressVPN is a cut above the rest. They have a range of security features that many of the others simply don’t provide.
One of the most important features that you need when using a vpn in a restrictive country such as the UAE is a Kill Switch. An important fact to know is that no vpn service is perfect. This means that in rare instances, your vpn connection may momentarily drop out. When this happens, your internet traffic continues to flow, but is now un-encrypted meaning that the UAE could possibly intercept it and read it. This does not happen when using a VPN with a Kill Switch. When the kill switch feature is enabled, in the scenario where your vpn connection momentarily drops out, your internet connection (and internet traffic) is also cut. In this way, there is no data for any UAE Government official to intercept and read. When the vpn connection is restored, the Kill Switch feature automatically reconnects your internet connection and you can safely continue using the internet. A vpn kill switch comes standard with all ExpressVPN subscriptions is a critical feature for all vpn users in the UAE.
Another security feature which sets ExpressVPN apart from other vpn companies is their Split Tunneling option. With this feature enabled, you can nominate which applications on your computer are routed through the vpn connection, and which ones are not. As an example, you could nominate to send your VoIP data (i.e. WhatsApp, Skype, SnapChat, etc) through the vpn tunnel, while you access all other government permitted websites via the regular non-encrypted tunnel.
Another fact to be aware of is internet speed. Because all vpn work by encrypting your data, this can have some impact on your overall internet data speeds. The level of impact it has on your internet speed depends on the vpn service provider that you are using. With ExpressVPN servers the speed reductions are miniscule. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, you won’t be able to notice any degradation of speed at all. This is really important if you’re using any application that is data intensive – such as video phone calls, or streaming movies etc. ExpressVPNare one of the only vpn service providers that employs a dedicated team of Hardware Engineers that constantly monitor and fine-tune their network of vpn servers, ultimately meaning you get blazing fast internet speeds.
Due to the extreme government censorship in the UAE, there are no vpn companies offering a vpn server within the UAE itself. The next best thing that you can look for is to use a vpn service provider with a vpn server in a nearby country. This has a huge impact on internet speed, as the closer you are physically located to the vpn server that you’re connected to, the faster your connection will be. Their vpn network spans more than 160 countries around the world, and including nearby: Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.
For citizens of the UAE who are super-serious about avoiding detection, you can even pay for your ExpressVPN service using Bitcoin.
ExpressVPN takes the issue of security and staying safe online seriously. Staying out of reach of Government Officials is the number issue that Emirates citizens (or travellers to this country) need to consider. The extensive suite of security features on offer from ExpressVPN is therefore what makes them our number one vpn choice for the UAE. Click the button below to head over to ExpressVPN now to view their prices and securely signup:
- Supported Devices:
NordVPN is the second choice for the best VPN in the United Arab Emirates. With them, You’ll be able to access the vast majority of blocked services, with little slowdown. One of NordVPN’s main security features is their strict ‘No Logs’ policy. This means they do not collect or share any data at all from you using it. They are also jurisdicted in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) which is an extremely privacy-sensitive country that has never been known to hand over any information to Governments relating to you or your internet data.
On top of this, your also offer a Double VPN feature. This works by routing your internet traffic through TWO vpn servers instead of one. This will of course result in a slight decrease in internet speed, but for those that want to be certain about staying out of reach from the UAE Government, this is a trade-off worth taking.
Alongside the extra privacy, NordVPN has more than 5,500 servers in more than 60 countries. You can bypass just about any geo-locking out there. They offer live support chat that’s open 24 hours a day. This means any problems can be taken of easily.
- Supported Devices:
SurfShark is another big name in VPNs that does work pretty well in the UAE. One of the biggests features of SurfShark is that they offer unlimited simultaneous vpn connections. This is great if you’re part of a large household, as it means that your entire family can connect to their vpn service at the same time from any number of devices you choose.
Like NordVPN, SurfShark offers servers in more than 60 countries so you can access websites like Netflix or Twitter. SurfShark doesn’t keep logs and provides a solid level encryption to keep you secure while using it.
Censorship in the UAE
Those are the best VPNs in United Arab Emirates. According to the Freedom House Index, the United Arab Emirates is one of the worst countries for internet freedom. Blocks are in place that restrict what you can do, as a resident or as a tourist. So using a VPN really does make a lot of sense. If you’re choosing to use one, remember to stay safe and use a trustworthy service. There are laws against some VPNs and some are blocked, so you need to pick the right service to keep safe.