Saudi Arabia is a country with the highest level of internet censorship and controls against freedom of expression. Comments against the government/royal family or criticism of religious beliefs are punishable offenses and many critical bloggers/activists have been detained by the authoritarian rule.
So, if you want to open blocked sites in KSA and maintain your anonymity to freely express yourself online without fear of backlash from the government, you need to use VPNs.
6 Best VPNs for Saudi Arabia
The following services are some of the best VPNs in the industry, containing features that will enable users in Saudi Arabia to keep themselves protected online and access restricted websites with ease:
ExpressVPN’s network includes 94 different locations and 3,000 servers in total. None of these servers are in Saudi Arabia, but the offshore servers are highly efficient for bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship that is common within Saudi Arabia.
The provider is based in the British Virgin Islands. The VPN takes full advantage of its jurisdiction to guarantee a completely log-free service to the privacy-conscious users in Saudi Arabia.
The service is exceptional for a wide range of tasks from streaming to torrenting. Since many TV shows and movies on Netflix are geo-restricted in Saudi Arabia, you can use ExpressVPN to gain complete access to Netflix’s library of content. Such strong unblocking ability makes it one of the best VPNs for streaming movies.
The only negative aspect of this VPN is the high subscription cost of $6.67/mo . However, you can demand a full refund within 30 days of subscription if you are not satisfied with the service. Overall, ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable providers, which is reflected in its positive reputation among VPN reviewers.
Surfshark is a fast VPN, owns a respectable network of 3,200+ servers in 65 countries. Although it has no servers in Saudi Arabia, that’s not a problem since you won’t be needing these due to the restrictions that all Saudi Arabian IP addresses have to face. You can utilize the overseas servers to evade geo-restrictions and grant access to censored content in Saudi Arabia.
The provider is based in the British Virgin Islands. In this country, the laws protect the online privacy of users and thus data retention is not a legal requirement. This is why personally identifiable information of users is completely safe with Surfshark, a key benefit for users in Saudi Arabia.
You can also use this service to instantly access US exclusive Netflix content by connecting to its American servers. In fact, it is a very powerful VPN for accessing US Netflix content within KSA. On top of this, the service offers great features like CleanWeb, WhiteLister, and MultiHop to enhance your online privacy. Considering the cost $2.49/mo , unlimited simultaneous connections and 30-refund policy, Surfshark is a valuable online privacy solution to have. No wonder, Surfshark has many positive reviews in its favor.
NordVPN has the largest network of servers in the VPN industry with 5,500+ servers distributed in 59 countries. This provider also lacks Saudi Arabian servers, but the offshore server strength can unblock everything on the web from torrents to streaming sites.
The provider is headquartered in Panama and it is thus highly focused on user privacy, taking advantage of the country’s data protection laws. This makes it appealing for bloggers and online activists in Saudi Arabia who want anonymity and stay protected from government control.
NordVPN also features technologies like DoubleVPN, CyberSec, Onion over VPN, kill switch which can significantly boost your anonymity on the web. This is really useful if you are a journalist/blogger in Saudi Arabia and want to keep your identity under wraps.
The higher price of NordVPN ( $3.71/mo ) is almost justified by this strong combination of features and the 30-day money back guarantee that comes with all packages. This is why NordVPN is rated highly by reviewers.
PureVPN consists of 6,500+ servers in 140+ countries, including 6 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The offshore servers are what you will be using mostly since these give Saudi Arabians the ability to change their virtual location online. This not only benefits users in terms of protecting their identities on the web but also enable access to restricted sites, considering heavy censorship in Saudi Arabia.
The provider is situated in Hong Kong, where no data retention laws are mandatory on ISPs/VPNs. This allows PureVPN to ensure zero-logging of your data to preclude the Saudi government from keeping track of your online activities.
Furthermore, with features like split-tunneling, kill switch, and ad-blocker you can further consolidate your online security/privacy to stay safe from government surveillance in Saudi Arabia.
As icing on the cake, it is a good cheap VPN, giving a 30-day money-back guarantee and 10 simultaneous connections for an affordable cost of $3.33/mo . These elements make PureVPN a solid privacy solution, leading to reviews full of praise for this service.
CyberGhost offers a remarkably large network of 6,600+ servers distributed in over 89 countries. 24 of these servers are housed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The majority of the overseas servers are compatible with torrenting as well as Netflix. So, users in Saudi Arabia looking for a way to remove censorship on entertainment services can take advantage of this VPN service.
CyberGhost is based in Romania where censorship is pretty lax and no mandatory data logging regulations apply. As such, it is an excellent choice to have for Saudi citizens concerned about the vulnerability of their privacy.
Besides, the service offers 45-day money-back guarantee and 7 simultaneous connections on the same VPN account. This will cost you $2.25/mo , a pretty reasonable price for a decent VPN like this. For its strong performance, this provider enjoys a good reputation and favorable reviews in the industry.
Private Internet Access offers 15 dedicated servers in Saudi Arabia and 23,000+ servers in 77+ countries overall. After connecting to its Saudi Arabian server, you access famous local channels be it Al Arabiya, Al Akhbariya, ART, and others from anywhere. Although PIA hails from the USA, which is part of the five eyes alliance, it offers a zero-log that secures your online activities from ISPs and hackers in the right way.
Furthermore, you can use different privacy features like internet kill switch, DNS or WebRTC protection, split tunneling, and port forwarding that protect you from accidental leaks. This is the main reason, different reviewers have appreciated PIA VPN in general.
You will have to pay only $2.69/mo to avail of PIA VPN along with other features such as 10 multi-logins and 30 days money back guarantee.
Free VPNs for Saudi Arabia
There’s no shortage of free VPNs out there. They are certainly very tempting, but it’s a bad idea if you want to entrust your privacy to a free tool. This is because many of these “free” apps are shams that will steal your information and make a profit off it by selling it to advertising agencies.
That is entirely opposed to what VPNs are needed for in the first, which is to enhance privacy rather than destroying it completely. Furthermore, the few legitimate VPNs available for free come with severe limitations, so much so as to make them pretty much impractical.
If you want to acquire these basic VPNs, here are a few reliable ones to try out:
To learn more about these services, you can read this article on truly free VPN providers.
Why you need a VPN in Saudi Arabia?
The greatest problem in Saudi Arabian cyberspace is that of censorship and heavy regulation. Here is a brief overview of the situation in KSA:
Censorship and Internet Freedom
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman takes an oppressive stance on freedom of expression. The internet is tightly regulated by authorities and any activity, message, or post on social media critical of the Crown Prince is considered a criminal penalty. This totalitarian treatment of critical voices compels journalists/bloggers/reporters towards self-censorship, stifling freedom of speech.
Furthermore, VoIP services like WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime are blocked though some of these have recently become accessible. FaceTime and WhatsApp are still, however, not fully functional in the country which remains a cause of great inconvenience for the people.
Therefore, people traveling to Saudi Arabia have no choice but to resort to VPNs if they want access to the normal web apps and deal with other online restrictions.
However, keep in mind that most proxy websites, as well as VPN official pages, are blocked in the country. So, don’t forget to download and install a VPN on your PC/devices before you travel to Saudi Arabia.
Accessing Geo-restricted Websites
Geo-restrictions can be quite frustrating for people in Saudi Arabia. For instance, many streaming platforms only work within the US or have only censored versions of a limited amount of shows. This is true for services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
You can gain access to these services using one of the VPNs mentioned above. All you need to do is connect to a US server to enable access to these servers and watch all the shows that you normally wouldn’t be able to while in KSA.
Stay safe over public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is notoriously unsafe because it lacks any password or other forms of protection. As such, hackers on the same network can very easily breach the privacy of other users connected to the Wi-Fi.
VPN services can protect you from being targeted by a hacker because it makes your data encrypted and invisible to other users on the same network. In addition, the IP-changing effect of VPNs further improves your privacy and keeps your tracks hidden from anyone that might be interested in intruding on your privacy.
Blogging anonymously in KSA
Censorship of free speech remains a significant hurdle for bloggers, activists, journalists, as well as the common man in Saudi Arabia. The totalitarian policies of the government even led to the arrest of a young man for video-chatting with a woman from California. The activist Raif Badawi who was a vocal critic of government oppression and anti-liberal policies in KSA was imprisoned for his dissident views and insulting Islam.
It goes without saying that KSA is not a place that appreciates criticism of state elements and people voicing their opinions if they don’t agree with the views of those in power. It is therefore extremely important for activists and anyone wishing to stay safe from government retribution in Saudi Arabia to use a VPN and online aliases to keep their real identities hidden. This can make it tougher for agencies to track your location and find out who you really are if they don’t like reading what you have to say on the web.
The legality of VPNs in Saudi Arabia
VPN services are not illegal in Saudi Arabia. However, what you do after tuning a VPN on is subject to legal interpretation. As long as you don’t perform any crimes, there is nothing in Saudi Arabian law to prevent the lawful usage of VPNs.
VPNs Guides for Other Countries
Online restrictions and censorship are prevalent in many parts of the world. Here are a few articles to deal with privacy/censorship issues specific to certain countries:
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