The UAE is a highly innovative, modern state, yet much of its official face is stuck in the past. Restricting freedom of information - blocking access to certain internet content, is incredibly limiting - meaning UAE citizens have to find ways to get around this issue, with simple use of a VPN.
The UAE is hastily carving a bright future for itself in many sectors, with Dubai alone becoming one of the top economic powerhouses of the world. Nonetheless, the UAE continues to drag itself into the Dark Ages by breaching the most basic of human rights – the freedom of information and speech.
With one of the world’s most severe cases of strict online monitoring, The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) seeks tight control over the flow of information. The laws restrict access to a number of genres that violate the ethics and morals of the UAE. This includes content regarding illegal drugs, gambling sites, dating, and nudity sites especially that of a pornographic nature. There is also strict restrictions on any sites related to anti-religious hate speech, any site with an Israeli domain, as well as those that support gay and lesbian issues in the Middle East. Citizens are even banned from a number of Wikipedia pages and from using certain communication apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Skype. This is certainly one of the world’s most extreme cases of internet-censorship, but there is a way to beat them at their own game – Get a VPN for the UAE.
Use a VPN for Online Privacy
Much like in many other countries with high internet censorship rules, there are many people in Dubai especially who are striving to outlaw the censoring systems placed by the government (TRA). One loophole is to create and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass the system. A UAE VPN will use an encrypted tunnel method to transfer data across ports privately, safeguarding your location by masking your IP address and making it appear as though you are browsing from another country. Government watchdogs will be totally blindsided to your internet activity and all of your past browsing content will be blurred and totally inaccessible. Now the question remains, how to get a VPN working in the UAE?
Best VPN for the UAE to Access Websites
One must be very careful when using an UAE VPN to ensure that it’s fully secure and of course, that the VPN you are using isn’t blocked in the country. We’ve identified the features that make up a solid VPN for use in the UAE, so you needn’t worry about any data leaks revealing the true nature of their online searches.
All of the following points are critical criteria for a foolproof VPN best for use in the UAE:
- No traffic logs – this is crucial so that there aren’t breadcrumbs left behind, revealing the true nature of your searches (both past and current).
- Strong encryption technology – effectively your traffic cannot be read by third parties (such as the government), network tunnels should be foolproof.
- Numerous servers – a large choice of virtual servers and locations is preferable so that you can find the country with the best connection to the content you are browsing.
- DNS leak protection – to ensure anonymity and added privacy, even the VPN you are using shouldn’t be able to see the content you are accessing.
- No connection logs – there shouldn’t be a log donating your session duration, IP source addresses, or even the VPN IP in use.
#1 ExpressVPN – Our Top Pick
If you’re looking how to open blocked sites in the UAE and bypass any government restrictions, ExpressVPN effortlessly meets all of the criteria for making one of, if not the best VPN for the UAE. Advocating for total digital freedom. There are many deal-making features ExpressVPN offers:
- Retains no connection logs.
- Uses one of the most secure encryption methods, used even by the military and US government.
- Has over 130 server options across 87 countries
- Uses a special obfuscation method to hide that you are connected to a VPN at all.
- Works at fast speeds
- Customer support available 24/7
- $12.95 a month
- $9.99 a month for a 6-month plan
- $6.67 a month for a 15-month plan
For more information on ExpressVPN features, read our extensive ExpressVPN review.
#2 NordVPN – Solid, Reliable & Secure
NordVPN is up there in the top of the bunch when it comes to reliability and security making it a great option for a VPN for the UAE. It is a great choice for bypassing the governmental blocks and restrictions on sites and programs whilst keeping your content searches under wraps. NordVPN:
- Has a pretty good speed
- Securely encrypted tunnels
- Over 1,374 servers to choose from across 60 countries
- Fast and reliable customer support service
Occasionally applications may not work when specifically browsing from the UAE, if this occurs you can log into the NordVPN app, and enable “obfuscated servers” in the advanced settings and proceed by connecting to an available server.
- $11.95 a month
- $5.75 a month for a 1-year plan
- $3.29 a month for a 2-years plan
For more information on NordVPN features, read our extensive NordVPN review.
#3 HotSpot Shield – US Based Service
Using HotSpot Shield users can browse in the UAE without fear of being spied on by the government. One thing to take note of though is that some users claim it works fine, whereas others said they have had issue. Take advantage of the 45-day trial period to check it out All plans with HotSpot Shield include:
- High-speed unlimited bandwidth.
- High privacy levels – no logs are saved regarding identity, activities or IP address
- 24/7 hassle free customer support
- $12.99 for a monthly plan
- $8.99 a month for a 6-month plan
- Premium plan: $5.99 a month for a 1-year plan.
For more information on HotSpot Shield features, read our extensive HotSpot Shield review.
#4 ZenMate – Not Just For English Speaking Users
Zenmate is a VPN service based in Germany and one of the top benefits is in that it is great for those who don’t speak English, with the application coming in a variety of different languages. We would be slightly cautious if using this as a VPN for the UAE, namely because the website isn’t crystal clear about all of the security features.
- High quality malware and tracking blockers
- Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) – not as secure as it could be especially if using in the UAE
- Limited number of server locations (30 servers in 29 countries)
- Can install a free version to try it out – though not recommended if browsing from the UAE
- Unlimited Bandwidth & server switches
We wouldn’t recommend this as a first choice of VPN.
- $4.99 a month
- $7.49 a month for a 3-month plan
- $8.99 a month for a 12-month plan billed annually
For more information on ZenMate features, read our extensive ZenMate review.
#5 Cyberghost VPN – Better Not to Use in The UAE!
Although CyberGhost uses highly secure 256-AES bit technology (more secure than L2TP) and is free to download, it is specifically mentioned on their site that it is a VPN banned in the UAE and one could face a hefty fine and possibly even prison time. Is it worth the risk? Probably not.
- $11.99 a month
- $5.99 a month for a 1 year plan
- $3.50 a month for a 2 year plan
For more information on PureVPN features, read our extensive Cyberghots VPN review.
Are VPNs Blocked in the UAE?
When it comes to UAE VPNs it can be a little tricky. The use of VPNs in the UAE is hugely popular though it currently resides in a legal gray area confusing much of the population. In 2012, a cyber-crime law banned the use of VPNs for certain activities; those considered illegal in the country (porn, gambling and anti-religious hate speech topping the list). The law however, has continually been amended and thrown the country into a state of confusion. The main bit to stay focused on is that using a VPN in the UAE is only illegal if the VPN has been used in a way to hide other illegal activity. Don’t forget that like CyberGhost, a VPN banned in the UAE, there are a few VPN sites that are technically banned. Apart from the unlucky few, there aren’t too many VPN sites that have been blocked by the TRA, which means the country is not actively blocking sites.
Get a VPN for the UAE
Overall, if you want to chat on Skype or freely read a variety of blocked content on the internet from within the UAE, it is absolutely essential to use the best VPN for the UAE or risk jail time.We would highly recommend that you thoroughly research the VPN of your choosing and make sure that it has a solid encryption, DNS leak protection and no traffic logs to say the least. Now that you know how to open blocked sites in the UAE … Happy browsing!