UAE leads with highest VPN penetration rate by country

James Patterson | Last Updated:

Online Privacy & Internet Security Expert

A recent study by Atlas VPN was published wherein their team analyzed 85 countries in terms of VPN penetration for the first half of 2020. The data is calculated by dividing the country’s population to the total VPN downloads by country. The basis of the total VPN downloads came from Google Play Store and Apple App Store using the Sensor Tower service, and it includes 45 of the biggest VPN providers.

According to this study, the UAE with a population of 9.89 million has a total download of 3,829,729, which makes the country with the highest VPN penetration rate by country with 38.72%, or in other terms, 1 out of 2.58 people are using VPN services in the country. This is followed by Qatar with 27.95%, and then Oman with 23.82%.

Why people in the UAE need a VPN

The general use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is to hide and protect the user’s identity on the internet from prying eyes — like hackers, Internet Service Providers, or even the government — by connecting to a virtual network. It also permits you to visit websites that are originally blocked by your Internet Service Provider or country. This of course, is a particular issue in the UAE.

Companies also use them to protect their assets from being accessed by external users.

Is it legal to use a VPN in the UAE?

Although the use of a VPN is not illegal in the UAE as several companies use it for their security, private individuals should only use legal VPN services as they may face jail time or get fined heavily by doing illegal activities.

This is in correlation with the issued UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012 by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which provides severe penalties of up to life imprisonment or a heavy fine ranging from 50,000 dirhams up to 3 million dirhams depending on the weight of the committed cybercrime activity.

Here are some illegal activities set by the government and the Gulf nation’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA):

  • Pornography, Nudity, and Vice
    • As per the Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012, producing, publishing, sending, or even sharing pornographic material online is punishable by imprisonment and a fine ranging from 250,000 dirhams to 500,000 dirhams.
  • Illegal Communication Services
    • Various free VoIP services such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype are banned in the UAE. However, some VoIP services have been lifted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Gambling
  • Insult, slander, and discrimination
    • Internet content that includes insults or defamation is strictly prohibited in the UAE, and perpetrators may face imprisonment as well as a hefty fine from 250,000 dirhams to 500,000 dirhams.
    • Insults to Islamic principles and committing sinful acts are also prohibited, and offenders may face imprisonment for seven years with a fine up to one million dirhams.

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* Scammers, Governments, and Advertisers can use this information to track and target you.

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