United Arab Emirates (UAE) has some of the strictest online policies and censorship in the country. Telecom providers like Etisalat have blocked access to VoIP services such as Skype and WhatsApp in the country. Similarly, the Freedom House ranks UAE 17/ 100 which is very low, rating it as a “Not Free Country“.
Considering the current online privacy and internet freedom landscape, the best VPN for UAE seems like the only option to take down these barriers. However, finding a VPN that works in UAE can be a challenging task as the government has blocked most services.
To help you make a decision, we have tested 150+ VPNs to bring you the top 6 services that are still working in UAE despite the heavy restrictions, and censorship. With the help of these VPNs, you can have unrestricted access to the internet in the United Arab Emirates.
6 Best VPN for UAE (August 2021 In-Depth Analysis)
After testing 150+ VPNs, the following are the 6 best VPNs for UAE that were selected based on their unblocking capabilities, server network, server speeds, device compatibility, and encryption
1. The Best VPN for UAE – ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for UAE, owing to its advanced bypassing ability, audited no-logs policy, and wide server coverage. ExpressVPN has a global network of 3000+ servers in over 94 countries (160 locations). All of these servers are equipped with state-of-the-art encryption techniques to protect your online identity and give you access to content from all around the globe.
Although it doesn’t have a server in UAE, there are multiple servers in the Middle East that you can use. ExpressVPN is also one of the best VPN for streaming because it has the ability to unblock any geo-restricted site, and it makes you undetectable with its military-grade 256-bit encryption. This makes it a handy VPN for people fed up with censorship and blocked social media apps within the UAE.
With ExpressVPN, you get the fastest speed for browsing, gaming, and streaming in UAE. During our tests, it gave a speed of 88.5 Mbps on its United States – New York server, which is more than enough to enjoy a buffer-less video stream and a lag-free online experience. You can also use this VPN to access geo-restricted content in the UAE, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, and more.
It is headquartered in British Virgin Island, a place that does not have data retention laws, thus offering a true no-logs policy. For ultimate privacy, ExpressVPN also offers IP and DNS leak protection, to keep you anonymous online. We tested it for IP leaks by connecting to its US server, and there were no leaks, as it hid our real IP address throughout the connection.
ExpressVPN supports all major devices, including macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, Smart TV, router, and gaming consoles.
It is available for $6.67/mo with 30-days money-back guarantee. With its no-questions-asked refund policy, you can always try it for 30-days risk-free. Read our latest ExpressVPN review for more details.
2. Budget-friendly VPN for UAE – Surfshark
Surfshark is the most budget-friendly VPN for UAE, with plans starting from only $2.49/mo . It also offers 3200+ servers across 65 countries, including one in the United Arab Emirates. Surfshark is quite efficient at removing barriers and bypassing geo-restrictions in UAE.
With Surfshark, you can gain access to streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hotstar with ease. It is also one of the best VPN in the UAE for Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp calls.
With its UAE server, you can unblock local UAE channels like Dubai Zaman, Dubai Sports, Sama Dubai, Al Dafrah TV, and more abroad. It also supports all the major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Linux, and routers.
Surfshark also offers advanced features like MultiHop and CleanWeb, which instantly increase user’s web privacy. It also offers IP and DNS leak protection, as you can see from the screenshot below, it masked our real IP and there were no leaks.
What’s best about Surfshark is that you can protect as many devices as you want on one account, because it supports unlimited connections. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it risk-free. Read our Surfshark review for more details.
3. Secure VPN for UAE – NordVPN
NordVPN is the most secure VPN for UAE with top 256-bit encryption, obfuscation technology, and NordLynx (WireGuard) to help you bypass firewalls. The provider lets you unblock geo-restricted websites in the UAE while also protecting your online identity. It offers 5200+ servers across 59 countries, however, there are no servers in UAE.
NordVPN has indeed become a trusted name in the VPN industry owing to its best-in-the-business security and privacy solutions. But that’s not all, NordVPN also packs excellent unblocking ability as well. It is fully capable of letting you access multiple international streaming content such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, CBS, YouTube TV, and more in UAE.
You can stream on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, and Linux, as NordVPN is compatible with all of them. NordVPN also supports 6 devices on one account, so you can protect your online privacy and stream on multiple devices at the same time.
The provider also offers an automatic kill switch feature to kill the internet when the VPN connection drops to keep you safe online. It is based in Panama, a country that doesn’t have data-retention laws. Furthermore, NordVPN also offers IP and DNS leak protection. We also tested for leaks by connecting to its French server, and it showed no leaks.
4. Fastest VPN for UAE – IPVanish
IPVanish is one of the fastest VPNs on this list of best VPN for UAE. During testing, it managed to deliver a high speed of 91 Mbps on a 100 Mbps connection, which was absolutely thrilling. If we talk about servers, IPVanish sports a smaller server network as compared to other VPNs, however, it does offer 2 servers in UAE, and 1600+ overall across 75+ countries.
With its local servers in UAE, you can access different UAE-based local content like Al Sabeeha TV, ALAAN TV, Fox Rewayat, Al Wousta from Al Dhaid, Al Dafrah TV, Noor Dubai, Fujairah TV, Ajman TV, and many more from abroad. With its international servers, you can unblock sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and VoIP apps along with social media in UAE.
IPVanish’s offshore servers will come in handy if you want to unblock VoIP services like Skype and WhatsApp on your phone in the UAE. It also works with macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Linux, router, and gaming consoles.
IPVanish does not store any logs, and it offers 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest encryption in the market. For users in UAE, this gives the benefit of anonymity and privacy from hackers and government surveillance. IPVanish also offers IP and DNS leak protection. We tested IPVanish for possible leaks by connecting to its Singapore server, and it was foolproof as there were no leaks detected.
The customer support of IPVanish is quite efficient as well, with 24/7 live chat support. It is also quite affordable, available for only $2.67/mo with a 30-days money-back guarantee. For more information, read our IPVanish review.
5. User-Friendly VPN for UAE – CyberGhost
CyberGhost is the most user-friendly VPN for UAE with apps for all major platforms. It offers friendly apps supporting all major devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, & Routers. You can download its apps from its website directly.
It also offers 12 servers in Dubai, UAE. If you need to acquire a UAE-based IP address to access local channels such as Dubai Sports, Sama Dubai, Al Dafrah TV, Noor Dubai, and others, you can connect to its 12 servers in UAE.
However, if you’re aiming to counter censorship and deal with geo-restrictions in UAE, you can use its 7000+ servers in 90 countries. CyberGhost offers dedicated servers for streaming, torrenting, gaming, and more. So, you can choose the one that suits your needs.
With its international servers, you can access international content such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, CBS, HBO Now, Yupp TV, Fox Sports, and use VoIP applications such as Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype on your devices in UAE. It is also one of the few VPNs with servers near Oman in the Middle East.
CyberGhost does not store any logs. The provider manages to offer rock-solid security with 256-bit encryption, kill switch, and unlimited bandwidth. It also offers IP and DNS leak protection. We checked CyberGhost for data leaks, and it did not leak any IP or DNS whatsoever.
6. Best VPN for Torrenting in UAE – PIA VPN
PIA is the best VPN for torrenting with 26 servers in UAE and 35500+ servers in 78 countries around the world. All these servers are optimized for P2P file sharing, with a SOCKS5 proxy. Additionally, it also offers good connection speeds (78.5 Mbps on 100 Mbps connection) for downloading large files.
With its international server, you can access streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, bEIN Sports, Netflix, and more in the UAE. Similarly, with its 26 servers in UAE, there is no local content or website that you can not unblock from abroad. Popular local content that you can access with this VPN includes Zee Aflam, Quest Arabiya, CNBC Arabiya, Sharjah TV Bengal Digital, Dubai Media City, and much more.
You can connect 10 devices with PIA at the same time. It also supports all the major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, and Linux.
Private Internet Access uses AES-256 encryption and is equipped with security-boosting features that include leak protection and a kill switch to ensure your privacy remains intact when performing sensitive tasks such as torrenting. PIA also offers DNS and IP leak protection. In order to test its leak protection, I used ipleak.net and conducted the test by connecting to its Australia – Victoria server and found PIA totally free of any leaks.
Also, the provider follows a no-logging policy that guarantees user privacy from government surveillance. Price-wise, PIA VPN is quite affordable. You can get this VPN for $2.08/mo which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. For more information, you can read our PIA VPN review.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for UAE. It offers strong security with 256-bit encryption and excellent unblocking ability so you can access all blocked sites in UAE like Skype, Instagram, Netflix, and more.
With its 3000+ servers in 94 countries, you will have unrestricted access to the internet in UAE. It also works with all major streaming platforms and sites like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more, offering HD quality video playback. With its audited no-logs policy and RAM servers, you have nothing to worry about regarding your online privacy and data protection in UAE.
It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so make sure to give it a try. If you like the VPN, you can get 3 months free on its 12 monthly offer.
Testing Methodology: How to test the best VPN for UAE
Because of censorship laws, finding a reliable VPN that works in the UAE is quite challenging. After thorough testing of 150+ VPNs, we were able to find 6 VPNs that unblock popular VoIP services like Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, and others in UAE.
Keeping certain factors in mind, we were able to test multiple VPNs over a week-long period to find trustworthy VPNs that won’t leak your data. Here are some important criteria to consider when choosing the best VPN for UAE:
- Large Server Network – Ensure the VPN you choose offers a wide server network across the world in different locations to access international content and unblock websites and streaming platforms in UAE.
- Fast Speed – Ensure that the best VPN for UAE offers fast speed for uninterrupted calling and to stream HD content without any buffering or lags.
- Strong Encryption – The VPN you choose must have 256-bit AES encryption and nothing below that because it is the most secure right now. Along with strong encryption, it should also support OpenVPN protocol, offer kill switch and IP leak protection for maximum online privacy and security.
- Simultaneous Connections – The VPN you choose for UAE should support multiple connections so you can protect more than one device at the same time. It should support a minimum of 5 devices on one account.
- Compatibility – The VPN you choose should be compatible with all the major devices. It should have VPN apps for various devices and should also be compatible with routers so you can protect all devices at the same time.
- Money-back guarantee – When choosing a VPN for UAE, always look at the duration of the money-back guarantee that is offered. Using the VPNs money-back guarantee, you can try the service yourself risk-free and decide if it suits your needs. All the VPNs mentioned above offer a minimum of a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3 Reasons Why You Need a VPN in UAE
There are multiple reasons why VPNs are becoming more important to use in UAE, such as:
- Restricted websites in UAE: The country has strict regulations against many online content forums, including pornography, gambling, criticism of religious beliefs, etc. ISPs and telecommunication authorities routinely block such content in UAE. VPNs help you bypass these censorship issues by offering encryption and servers all over the world.
- Government surveillance: The UAE government has sought the NSA’s help to spy on local and foreign nationalities in UAE, as it is a global hub. This shows that the UAE has ties with US surveillance agencies, which threatens the online privacy of people in the UAE. As such, using a VPN’s sophisticated encryption to avoid being a subject of government eavesdropping has become essential.
- Security over public Wi-Fi: Security is notoriously weak on public Wi-Fi hotspots in UAE. This puts users under threat from hackers that might take advantage of security vulnerabilities to breach user privacy. A VPN with solid encryption and obscure servers like ExpressVPN can significantly enhance your security against such threats.
Use a VPN to Access Popular Websites and Apps in the UAE
The UAE, including Dubai, blocks many popular websites and applications. You can not access Facebook, Instagram, or use WhatsApp or Skype. Internet Service Providers like Du or Etisalat track all internet traffic and restrict online freedom. We have listed down some popular websites and applications blocked in the UAE:
- Facebook Messenger
Fortunately, with a VPN, you can bypass government restrictions and access these sites in UAE. All you need to do is connect to a VPN and get a new IP address to access blocked content.
VPNs you should avoid in UAE
Not all VPNs are safe to use in UAE. In your search for the best VPNs for UAE, it would be wise to avoid a few of the VPN providers. We have listed down two VPN providers that would do more harm than good and you should avoid in UAE.
Hola is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network service that uses idle bandwidth on other people’s computers to create a VPN tunnel. In 2015, Hola was accused of turning its users into botnets for carrying out DDoS attacks and other illegal activities. You can become a liability for someone else and they for you, and it will create a high risk for you while you are in UAE or Dubai. You can learn the details in our HolaVPN review.
This VPN provider stores detailed metadata user logs, including your real IP address. To a non-VPN user, this may not be a huge deal, but to a VPN user, this is more than enough to be skeptical of HideMyAss’ “no-logs” claims. Due to their cooperation with the law authorities under court order, Cody Kretsinger, a LulzSec hacker involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures, was arrested.
UAE’s Content And Privacy Laws for VPNs
The UAE’s internet censorship blocking laws are divided into two categories: religious principles and protecting businesses.
It is no surprise that the religious principles aspect of the censorship law is a mixture of Sharia and secular civil ideals. As the country’s laws have a significant basis in Sharia, the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s online censorship blocking makes sense per the UAE’s Muslim belief system.
According to the TRA, content that “contradicts with the ethics and morality of the UAE” is blocked outright. This includes:
- VoIP sites and services (Skype).
- Websites containing anti-religious hate speech.
- Websites related to the production, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs.
- Content that is often contrary to the beliefs of the majority Sunni population.
- Many Wikipedia pages.
- Israeli websites.
VPN Law and the 2016 Amendment in UAE
In early 2016, the UAE changed its cybercrimes legislation to specify more VPN uses. The law reads:
Even after the amendment of this law, VPN usage is very high and common in UAE and Dubai. Many websites which are not going against the ethics law are not banned and are still accessible from UAE. These websites include VPN sites as well. As long as the VPN you are using is doing its job and you are not using it for anything illegal, you are not likely to catch any authorities’ attention.
VoIP Apps are blocked in UAE to help Local Telecom Services
UAE relies heavily on international business traffic as it is one of the major contributors to its economy. In Dubai, many non-Muslims and temporary residents live and work in the city year-round and long-term. To stay in their international business partners’ good books, the country doesn’t enforce some part of the laws.
Most of the country’s businesses encourage and enjoy some of the censorship laws as they are designed to protect their interests. With the introduction of multiple VoIP services and other messaging applications, such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts, the telecommunications industry is losing its business. Therefore, by imposing specific censorship laws, the country is trying to help the local telecommunications industry stay in business.
How to get over VPN blocking in UAE?
Since VPN services are on Telecom Regulatory Authority’s radar, it is a possibility that the VPN you will use in UAE may get blocked. Don’t worry; there are different methods by which you can overcome VPN blocks. We have listed a few of them for you below:
Move your TCP Port to 443
Port 443 is used for secure web browser communication. Data transferred across such connections are highly resistant to eavesdropping and interception. On OpenVPN TCP protocol data can also travel through port 443, and changing the port number makes your VPN traffic look just like regular SSL traffic from an HTTPS website. This way, the chances of VPN being blocked drop significantly.
Try changing to a different protocol
Almost all of the premium VPN providers offer multiple VPN connection protocols. Usually, this set of protocols consists of (OpenVPN TCP and UDP, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IKEV). If you cannot establish the VPN connection using any particular protocol, then it is advised to change the connection protocol and try again. Most of the time, a network blocking one of the protocols for connection allows the other one to work just fine.
Best VPNs for UAE – FAQs
Now let’s check out some frequently asked questions regarding VPNs and UAE.
Yes, it is legal to use VPN in UAE and Dubai. It mostly depends on your purpose or intention. As long as you are not getting involved in anything illegal in UAE, you can use a VPN.
As long as you’re not committing a crime, you should have nothing to worry about. If you use a VPN for illegal activities, then UAE has strict laws against such practices. According to a piece of Khaleejtimes, using a VPN is legal in UAE if it is not being used for any of the following:
- Not to spread hate
- Not to gather people for any illegal protests.
- Not for fraudulent purposes
- Not to be used for crime.
- Not to be used for preventing crime discovery.
- Not to be used for any anti-religious content.
- Not to use for anti-state activities.
- Not to be used to access porn websites.
No, we don’t recommend using a free VPN in UAE. There are many reasons why we discourage the use of free VPNs in the UAE. Most of the free VPN providers offer limited bandwidth each month on their accounts. This is not enough for streaming, calling, or even browsing.
Free VPNs also offer limited servers. If you are lucky, you will get a maximum of 5 server locations to use. With such a low number of servers, you can not determine whether the VPN provider is capable of unblocking sites in UAE. Also, with so few servers you will experience very low speeds on your VPN connection.
Moreover, most of the free VPN providers are known to sell users’ private data and information to different authorities.
Yes, it is totally safe to shop online or access your online bank account in the UAE with a VPN. Even though websites that handle online transactions are protected with TLS encryption standards, they’re not entirely safe. But with the second layer of encryption offered by VPNs, you’ll be able to do whatever you like online without compromising any sensitive data.
Follow these steps below to access blocked content in UAE with a VPN:
- First, you need a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN.
- Download and install the ExpressVPN application on your device.
- Once the application is installed, launch it and log into using your ExpressVPN account details.
- Then select any VPN server location from the ExpressVPN application server list and connect to it.
- Once the connection is established, you can head over to the site you want to unblocks.
The selection of the VPN server will depend on your purpose. For example, to access a US-based website, you will connect to a US-based server, and similarly, for accessing UK-based websites, you will connect to a UK-based server.
Make sure to always connect the VPN before trying to access any blocked website or application.
No, you will not be fined for using a VPN in UAE. As long as you don’t use it with malicious intent or anything illegal according to the country’s law, you do not have to worry about getting fined while using a VPN.
VPN Guides for Other Countries
- VPN for Saudi Arabia
- VPN for Qatar
- VPN for Oman
- VPN for Bahrain
- VPN for Egypt
- VPN for Turkey
- VPN for Sudan
- VPN for Lebanon
Best VPN for UAE – Wrapping Up!
UAE is one of the few countries in the world with strict censorship laws to this day. If you are in the UAE, you will not be able to access most VoIP apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime, Zoom, and others.
The easiest workaround to this problem is to use ExpressVPN, which is the best VPN for UAE, as it offers a network of 3,000+ fast-speed servers. With ExpressVPN, you’ll not only be able to access different geo-restricted streaming websites but also boosts your online privacy at the same time. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can use it free for 30 days in Dubai and cancel anytime to get a full refund.