United Arab Emirates (UAE) blocks its citizens from accessing certain apps and websites that it believes are unacceptable or unprofitable as per their country’s rules and regulations. Thus, telecommunications services providers such as Etisalat don’t allow users to access VoIP services such as Skype and WhatsApp in the country.
By blocking VoIP services, UAE’s government has established a proper monopoly over how people communicate with their loved ones abroad. Since the government cannot intercept the communication content between individuals, it simply blocks these services altogether.
If you want your communication to remain private and unblock VoIP services, you require a Virtual Private Network. Speaking of which, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for UAE as per my testing. I say this because ExpressVPN’s massive server network (3000+) and superior privacy features can effectively handle UAE-specific issues of censorship and privacy violations.
In today’s guide, I have described the top 6 VPNs that will help you access blocked websites, apps, and other restricted content in UAE. The VPNs I have recommend will also keep your communication private and anonymous.
Summary of Best VPN Service Providers for Dubai
How We Shortlisted the Best VPN for UAE?
Because of weird censorship laws, finding a reliable VPN that works in the UAE is quite challenging. It took me quite some time to find five VPNs that unblock popular VoIP services like Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime, and others.
Keeping certain factors in mind, I was able to test multiple VPNs over a week-long period to find trustworthy VPNs that won’t leak your data. Speaking of certain factors, here’s how you can find a reliable VPN for UAE yourself:
6 Best VPN Services for UAE
The following services are all excellent VPNs fully capable of keeping your IP address anonymous while at the same time allowing access to apps that are blocked in the UAE.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN for streaming video content because it has the tendency to unblock geo-restricted media for video streaming or social media usage and makes you undetectable with its military-grade encryption. This makes it a handy VPN for people fed up with censorship and blocked social media apps within the UAE. With ExpressVPN you can also unblock banned content in Egypt, and other countries with strict surveillance and censorship.
ExpressVPN has a global network of 3,000+ servers in over 94 countries. 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, it does have a server in Egypt that will allow you to access local UAE channels such as Al Emarat TV, Abu Dhabi TV, Al Dafrah TV, Sharqiya from kalbaa, and more.
You get the fastest speed for browsing and streaming, while at the same time, it is user-friendly. You can also use this best VPN Dubai to access geo-restricted content in the UAE, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, and more. Since it is headquartered in British Virgin Island, it does not have data retention laws, one of the key points for which it received high ratings in this review. As the best VPN for UAE, ExpressVPN supports all of your major devices, including MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, Smart TV, Router, and Gaming Consoles.
The only drawback of this VPN is its expensive pricing as it is available for $6.67/mo with 30-days money-back guarantee. But, with its refund policy, you can always try it for 30-days risk-free.
- 3,000+ servers in 94+ countries
- Class-leading privacy and strong security features
- Provides 5 multi-logins
- Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more
- No-Log policy
- Compatible with all major devices
- A little more pricey than other providers
Surfshark offers a good amount of servers, i.e. 3,200+ in 65 countries, including the UAE. However, you will mostly be needing the overseas servers if you’re a UAE visitor or resident because of the existing censorship and restrictions in the country. Surfshark is highly efficient at removing restrictions on websites with its remote VPN servers.
The provider works well to download torrents safely in the UAE and gain access to streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video 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 use it to view different local UAE channels unavailable for people outside the UAE. These channels include Dubai Zaman, Dubai Sports, Sama Dubai, Al Dafrah TV, and many others. Like ExpressVPN, it also supports all the major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Router, Firestick, Linux, and Android TV.
When it comes to low-budget VPN to use in UAE, Surfshark is rated as the best option. It is one of the fastest VPNs so far we have found, available for only $2.49/mo . It is also one of the top VPNs for Lebanon.
When subscribed to this VPN service, users also benefit from advanced features like MultiHop and CleanWeb, which instantly increase their web privacy. For these features, Surfshark has a good reputation with positive reviews. As such, users seeking superior online protection with unblocking capabilities in UAE will find a reliable service in Surfshark.
- 3,200+ servers in 64 countries
- unlimited simultaneous logins
- Low-cost VPN
- Server available in UAE
- Server network coverage is smaller than most other VPNs
- Some slow download speeds
NordVPN has 5 servers within the UAE in a network of 5,500+ servers in 59 countries. The provider lets you unblock geo-restricted websites in the UAE while also protecting your online identity.
NordVPN has indeed become a trusted name when it comes to providing the best-in-the-business security and privacy solutions but don’t let that fool you. It is fully capable of letting you access multiple international streaming content such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, CBS, YouTube TV, etc., with uninterrupted and smooth quality.
With its VPN server in UAE, you can also watch exciting local channels that include BBC Arabic, Majid Kids TV, Nat Geo Abu Dhabi, Quest Arabiya, CNBC Arabiya, and many others. You can stream all those channels on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, and Linux, as NordVPN is compatible with all of them.
The provider uses an automatic kill switch feature to kill the internet when the VPN connection drops to keep you safe online. It is based in Panama that doesn’t have data-retention laws, nor does it store your browsing data. Furthermore, NordVPN offers support for torrent download as well as many popular streaming apps, including
- 5,500+ servers in 59 countries
- Provides 6 multi-logins
- User-interactive server selection on applications
- Server available in UAE
- P2P/File-Sharing only supported on some servers
- Sluggish app and server connections
PureVPN offers 33 servers in Dubai, UAE. These servers are perfect when it comes to access different UAE-based local content. You can easily unblock Al Sabeeha TV, ALAAN TV, Fox Rewayat, Al Wousta from Al Dhaid, Al Dafrah TV, Noor Dubai, Fujairah TV, Ajman TV, and many others while sitting in your living home outside UAE. It surely is the best VPN for Dubai if you wish to acquire a Dubai IP address for your macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, Router, Linux, and Gaming Consoles.
However, the service’s offshore servers will come in handy if you want to unblock VoIP services like Skype and WhatsApp on your iPhone or Android phone in the UAE. Overall, the provider has over 6,500+ servers with a global spread that covers over 140+ countries. With a huge network like that, you will stream popular streaming content such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, CBS, Channel4, ITV, Hotstar, Sony Liv, ESPN+, etc.
PureVPN 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. The customer support for PureVPN is quite good as well, with 24/7 live chat support. For these features, PureVPN has earned a lot of praise in its review.
- 6,500+ servers in 140+ countries
- The second-largest network of servers
- Allows 10 simultaneous connections on one account
- Server available in UAE
- Irregular and moderate speeds
- Restricted Payment options
CyberGhostoffers 11 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 this particular server.
However, if you’re aiming to counter censorship and deal with geo-restrictions in UAE, you will need to utilize an offshore server from a list of 6,300+ servers in 90 countries. You will access international content such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, CBS, HBO Now, Yupp TV, NBC Live, Fox Sports, and use VoIP applications such as Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype on your devices with the help of CyberGhost.
CyberGhost offers friendly apps supporting all major devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, & Routers. It does not store any logs. The provider manages to give rock-solid security with 256-bit encryption, anonymous torrenting, and unlimited speed makes it reasonably appreciated in reviews.
You can get CyberGhost for a reasonable price of $2.25/mo with 45-days refund policy.
- 6,300+ servers in 90 countries
- One of the Largest VPN server network
- Provides a 45-day money-back guarantee
- Server available in UAE
- Dodgy data jurisdiction and anonymity
- Limited payment options
PIA VPN has 26 servers within the UAE. This VPN is highly efficient if you want to unblock popular streaming apps with its powerful network of 29,000+ servers in 77 countries. With PIA, you can access streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, bEIN Sports, Netflix, and more in the UAE.
With its 26 servers in UAE, there is no local content or website that you can not unblock. 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. It also supports all the major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Firestick, Android TV, 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. So, if you need to torrent safely in UAE, PIA VPN has got you covered. These security features make PIA VPN highly valued among reviewers.
Also, the provider follows a no-logging policy that guarantees user privacy from surveillance undertaken by the government. Price-wise, PIA VPN is quite affordable. You can get this VPN for $2.69/mo which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 10 simultaneous connections.
- 29,000+ servers in 77 countries
- Largest VPN server network
- Provides 10 simultaneous logins.
- Headquartered in the U.S
- Insufficient Client Support
Is it legal to use VPN in UAE and Dubai?
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 considered illegal by the Government of UAE, your use of the VPN will be legal.
Many businesses with international clients use VPNs in the UAE. 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.
As per The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), which is responsible for censoring content in the UAE, prohibited content includes:
The prohibited content is defined as any content that offends against, is objectionable to, or is contrary to the public interest, public morality, public order, public and national security, Islam morality or is otherwise prohibited by any applicable UAE law, regulation, procedure, order or requirement, as more specifically described in each of the Prohibited Content Categories below. Access to website and webpages that contain prohibited content is blocked by the Internet service providers in UAE.
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.
Popular Website and Apps that are blocked 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 internet freedom. We have listed down some popular websites and applications blocked in the UAE, and we will also be showing you how to access them in UAE by using a VPN.
How to Access Blocked Content in UAE with VPN: Step-By-Step
Now that you know which popular content is blocked in UAE, we will tell you step-by-step how to access them using a VPN.
We will like to remind our readers again that using a VPN is not illegal in UAE but using it to carry out an illegal act is punishable by law. Therefore, we recommend exercising extreme caution when using a VPN while you are in the UAE.
Now let’s get started with how to access blocked in UAE with 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 the application 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, your IP address should be changed to reflect a VPN IP address.
Now that you have acquired a VPN IP address, you can access those blocked websites or applications.
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. You can also use a VPN to unblock banned content in Sudan and other countries with internet restrictions.
Important Tips on Best VPNs for UAE
As per the “better save than sorry” strategy, we would like to share some additional tips that might help you in your journey to finding the best VPNs for UAE.
Tips 1: Do not use these VPNs in UAE
In your search for the best VPNs for UAE, it would be wise to avoid a few of the VPN providers. The reason may be that either they do not work in UAE, or they have a devious practice that could harm you in one way or another. We have listed down two of such VPN providers that would do more harm than good and you’re advised to stay away from them.
Hola is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network service that uses idle bandwidth on other people’s computers to create a VPN tunnel. Meaning, you will be responsible for providing the bandwidth for other users’ activity, and in return, they will be responsible for you. You can not 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.
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.
While we don’t condone what Cody did, the fact that they log the user’s real IP address and assist in an arrest speaks volumes about their so-called “no-log” policy.
Tip 2: Download a good VPN before Arriving in UAE
Although accessing a VPN website is not a crime in UAE, it would still be better if you can avoid accessing them to download a VPN service. Just to ensure that you have not raised any trigger warnings or you are not a monitoring target. It’s best, then, to download a VPN program before entering the country.
Why do you need a VPN in UAE?
There are multiple reasons why VPNs are becoming more important to use in UAE:
- Restricted websites in UAE: The country has strict regulations against many online content forms, 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 using a suitable server location.
- Government surveillance: The UAE government has sought the NSA’s help to spy on local and foreign populations critical of the government. This shows that the UAE has ties with US surveillance agencies, which threatens the online privacy of people who have anything to do with the country. As such, using a VPN’s sophisticated encryption to avoid being a subject of government eavesdropping has become essential. This reason alone can be responsible to force you into using a VPN in countries such as Turkey, where insulting the country’s leadership online be penalized with jail time for up to 4 years. Turkish people only hope to overcome online government surveillance and censorship is by using VPNs that work in Turkey.
- Security over public Wi-Fi: Security is notoriously weak in 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 can significantly enhance your security against such threats.
UAEs Content And Privacy Laws
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. However, it’s less strict than what one might find in Iran or Saudi Arabia.
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 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:
“Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 ( USD $136,128.51) and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000 (USD $544,514.04), or either of these two penalties.”
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 still accessible from UAE and Dubai. These websites include VPN websites 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. Let’s talk about Dubai, as 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 its laws.
Many 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, its telecommunications industry is losing its business. Therefore, by imposing some specific censorship laws, the country can try 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.
Never use a Free VPN In UAE
You must be asking yourselves these question at some point; “Can I use a free VPN in UAE?” or “what is the best free VPN in UAE?” or maybe “what is the best free VPN for WhatsApp calling in UAE?“, well you don’t. Never use a free VPN in UAE because they are risky, non-reliable, dangerous for your online security, and simply not worth your time.
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. 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.
Why we discourage the use of free VPNs in the UAE?
While many free VPN providers claim to be “the best free VPN for Android in UAE” or “the best free VPN for iOS in UAE” or “the best free VPN in UAE“, if you are absolutely sincere about your online privacy and protection in UAE, you will not fall into their trap by purchasing them.
There are many reasons behind our discouragement in the use of free VPNs in the UAE. We will be listing a few of them for you, and hopefully, it will be enough to convince you that there is no such thing as the best free VPN for UAE or Dubai.
Bandwidth – Most of the free VPN providers offer limited bandwidth each month on their accounts. At the end of this limit, you will have to wait for the next month to sign up again with another email address. By signing up again with a new email address, you will be inviting different businesses to spam your email mailbox with their promotions and advertisements.
Speed – As there is no proper channel through which they can generate revenue, they are not capable of any network maintenance. Due to this, their servers are not optimized to bear users’ load, and you will always experience very low speeds on your VPN connection.
Server Locations – 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 fulfilling your purpose or not.
Security & Privacy – These free VPN providers cannot implement state-of-the-art security and encryption techniques to protect their user’s identity and online privacy. Many of the free VPN providers are known to sell users’ private data and information to different authorities.
We hope that by now, you have a clear idea as to how dangerous these free VPN providers can be to your privacy. Having said that, there are still some legitimate free VPN providers. Here’s a shortlist of some of the best free VPNs for the UAE:
UAE VPN FAQs
Now let’s check out some frequently asked questions regarding VPNs and UAE.
Is it safe to use a VPN for online Banking and Shopping in UAE?
Yes, with a VPN’s help, it is totally safe to shop online or access your online bank account in the UAE. 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.
Is Etisalat the only ISP in UAE And Dubai?
No, Etisalat is not the only ISP in the UAE and Dubai. Apart from Etisalat, the other ISP’s provider is “du“. du offers fixed-line, mobile telephony, internet, and digital television services across the United Arab Emirates. It has a sister concern named Edara established in 2018. Edara is a subsidiary of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) commercially branded as Telco Operations.
Will I get fined for Using a VPN in UAE And Dubai?
No, you will not be fined for using a VPN in UAE and Dubai. As long as you dont use it with malicious intent or anything illegal according to the country’s law, you do not have to worry about getting fined.
Best Emirates VPN: Conclusion
UAE is one of the few regions in the world with weird 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.
If you hurry up, you can avail of their limited time offer of “12 Months + 3 Months Free“, which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee as well.