Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

September 22, 2017

Qatar is home to an autocratic monarchy where political opposition isn’t tolerated. Despite that, the country’s government hasn’t gone to the same lengths as other Arabian nations in controlling internet access. Freedom House doesn’t feel that the state of internet access controls in Qatar is severe enough to merit its attention.

However, the country does follow its neighbors in blocking access to sites with adult content, gambling sites, and sites that advocate gay rights and women’s liberation. Meanwhile, self-censorship reduces the necessity to block access to news websites. However, when this self-control occasionally breaks down, the Qatari government shows its teeth. An editorial on gay rights by the English-language Doha News in December 2016 saw Qatar block the site for a few days.

Political tensions with other Middle Eastern states in 2017 have made the government of Qatar extremely sensitive to criticism. However, local news sources are unlikely report on opposition to the government. The external opposition to the Qatari regime actually threatens those who are most likely to protest against government controls more than their own near-benevolent government does.

The Qatari authorities don’t restrict access to social media sites or internet telephony apps. These are widely available in Qatar. This is an amazingly liberal stance compared to other states in the Arabian Peninsula.

Qatar is probably one of the most liberal nations in the Middle East. However, you may find yourself bored by the heavily edited entertainment that the country’s board of censors approves for public display. If you want to access entertainment from abroad, you have the benefit of one of the best internet infrastructures in the Middle East. However, because of issues related to censorship and copyright agreements, foreign online video streaming services won’t let you in.

You can get around these regional restrictions on cross-border access by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). With a VPN, you can force your way into overseas video streaming services. This system makes you appear to be in different locations, thus tricking streaming websites. This illusion is often enough to get you into the video library that you want to access. VPNs don’t get you into subscription services without paying. However, they can get you around the blocks that stop you from visiting video sites from abroad. You can find out more about regional restrictions below.

Quick Links to Our 5 Best VPNs for Qatar

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. PrivateVPN
  3. VyprVPN
  4. PrivateInternetAccess
  5. PureVPN

There are hundreds of VPNs available, but only a few of them are any good. If you’re in Qatar and trying to get into overseas video libraries, you can waste plenty of time reading up on every contender in the market. Just plumping for the first VPN you encounter is another mistake. To solve this problem, we’ve compiled a list of the five best VPNs for Qatar. By narrowing your investigations to these five, you’ll save yourself time and can be sure that you’ll end up with a VPN that actually works.

Best VPNs for Qatar: Summary

10.0/10.0

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 49% off today!
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Comprehensive stealth procedures
  • High speeds
  • Gets into Netflix
CONS:
  • Only three simultaneous connections allowed

ExpressVPN has excellent speeds. That is an important attribute when you want to access overseas streaming services, because you don't want all of the extra work that the VPN performs to slow down the playback of a video. Those speeds are also very useful if you intend to make a lot of video calls while you're in Qatar.

ExpressVPN is able to get around VPN detection systems in China and at Netflix. These are probably the two most comprehensive implementations of VPN detection systems, so if ExpressVPN can get past them, it can get through any block. This VPN has servers in 94 countries. If you want to get into an overseas streaming service, you need to connect through a VPN server in the same country. As such, the ExpressVPN network will give you plenty of options.

Get the best VPN for Qatar today!

Visit ExpressVPN »30-day money-back guarantee

9.6/10.0

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • BestVPN’s “Best Value VPN 2018” winner
  • 50+ server locations
  • Unlocks 16 different Netflix regions
  • Excellent customer service
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • Military-grade OpenVPN encryption
  • Good privacy policy
CONS:
  • DNS configured manually (with guide)

PrivateVPN is a VPN provider based in Sweden, and is well-known for both its affordable prices and its unblocking capabilities – especially for TV streaming service Netflix. PrivateVPN supports 16 different Netflix regions, including the US. PrivateVPN is an excellent choice for a Qatar VPN, with military-grade OpenVPN encryption and an airtight privacy policy/no logs policy.

Additionally, PrivateVPN offers six simultaneous connections, 50+ server locations, high server speeds, and a user-friendly interface for the less tech-savvy users. The only negative to PrivateVPN is the need to manually configure the DNS via the provided guide, which isn’t very difficult to follow. Finally, PrivateVPN exercises a 30-day money-back guarantee for unsatisfied users.

9.4/10.0

VyprVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Three-day free trial
  • Servers in 70 countries
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Competent cloaking methodology
  • Gets into Netflix
CONS:
  • No money-back guarantee

VyprVPN is brilliant at hiding its identity as a VPN. The company behind VyprVPN created its own cloaking methodology, called Chameleon. This works very well to evade detection and will get you into just about every streaming service in the world, including Netflix.

The VyprVPN server network isn't as large as that of ExpressVPN. VyprVPN has a presence in 70 countries. Check out the server list before you sign up for a subscription. You can try the service on a three-day free trial to make sure that it gets you into your favorite video sites.

9.0/10.0

PrivateInternetAccess Homepage
PROS:
  • Strong encryption
  • Zero logs policy
  • Kill switch
  • DNS leak protection
  • Affordable
  • 25 server locations
  • P2P supported
CONS:
  • Based in US
  • Killswitch known to fail occasionally
  • Doesn’t unblock US Netflix or BBC iPlayer

Private Internet Access or PIA is a VPN provider that offers a fully-featured VPN service for a more than affordable price. To start, PIA exercises an airtight privacy policy and no logs policy – ideal for countries like Qatar where maintaining your privacy is extremely important. PIA also provides users with excellent OpenVPN encryption.

Additionally, PIA offers servers in 25 countries, all with high streaming speeds and permitted P2P activities. A couple negatives to PIA – first, they are based in the US. This means if they were served a warrant, they’d have to comply. Fortunately, not collecting logs really benefits you in this situation. The other negative to PIA is reports that its killswitch fails occasionally. You can try out PIA for yourself and if you’re unsatisfied, you can use their 7-day money-back guarantee.

8.6/10.0

PureVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Three-day trial available
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 141 countries
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Gets into Netflix
CONS:
  • Some servers are slow

PureVPN is based in Asia. It was designed to serve customers in China, where restrictions on access to foreign streaming services are tough to defeat. The company's skills in evading detection in China mean that it can provide very good privacy measures for people in Qatar. It can also evade detection by streaming services. That makes this is a great service to use when you want to get around the regional restrictions on overseas video streaming sites.

The PureVPN server network includes locations in 141 countries. This gives you plenty of options when you're looking around the world for entertainment.

VPNs for use in Qatar: Considerations

Overseas Video Access in Qatar

The authorities in Qatar aren’t that interested in pursuing people who use VPNs to access entertainment over the internet. The censors within the country have strict moral standards. However, there don’t seem to be any moves to prevent people within the country from accessing racier content from abroad. The 2014 cybercrime law is concerned more with the dissemination of “false news” than with matters of copyright infringement. The law obliges local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep connection and content logs for 90 days. A prosecutor can order the extension of this period.

The main problem with the law in Qatar is its loose phrasing. The only risk that the cybercrime law might pose to those who access foreign entertainment relates to torrenting. There haven’t been any prosecutions for copyright piracy with peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads in Qatar. However, the cybercrime law does define distributing offensive material as a crime. Unfortunately, the nature of file sharing protocols means that, while you are downloading a file, you’re also making segments of that file available to others. Therefore, if the Qatari censors haven’t approved the movie that you’re downloading, the authorities could prosecute you for “distributing” that file.

When you access foreign video streaming services, make sure that you don’t copy those movies or shows on to DVDs for others to watch. That could also get you a conviction for distributing.

VPNs for Qatar

The complexities of copyright agreements and national laws prevent video streaming services from making their content available worldwide. The internet is a great medium for distributing entertainment. However, video sites have to restrict access to specific countries because they only pay for the right to show content in the locations they agree with copyright holders.

The importance of complying with local censorship standards also means that video services have to restrict cross-border access. A movie from the US may be available in Qatar, but it will be heavily edited to remove dialog and sights that are unacceptable under local laws. Online video sites in Qatar have to ensure that you can only watch Qatari-approved edits of those shows.

The Qatari government won’t bother you if you access a US streaming site in your own home, for immediate viewing. The video streaming site will try to stop you though. That’s why you need a VPN. If you want to watch US entertainment over the internet from Qatar, install a VPN that includes a server in the US. Fortunately, just about all VPN services have US-based servers.

Using a VPN to Stream US TV in Qatar

First, access the VPN app, select a US server, and turn the VPN on. Once it’s is running, you will appear to be in the US. Now navigate to the US entertainment site of your choice. All of your communications pass through the nominated US server. It will put its own address on all outgoing communications rather than your own.

When it looks as though you are in the United States, US video services should let you watch their content. However, video streaming services realize that people use VPNs to get around their regional restrictions. They try to block requests that are made through VPNs. This is why it’s important that you choose a good service, because not all can get around these VPN detection systems. If you have a Netflix subscription and want to get into the entertainment catalog for another country, rather than the Qatari version, you’ll be up against some of the most comprehensive detection systems in the world.

The Best VPNs for Qatar: Conclusion

All of the VPNS on our list can get past the Netflix VPN detection systems. Thus they’ll work well for any streaming service. If you want to watch shows from countries other than the US, just make sure the VPN that you subscribe to has servers in those places.

The retention of the content of your communications by your ISP could get you into trouble in Qatar. However, VPNs don’t just make it look like you’re somewhere else, they also encrypt all of your communications and divert all requests to the VPN server. This means your ISP won’t be able to see the contents of your requests or the code that is returned by the video server. The ISP also won’t know which services you are accessing because, while you have the VPN turned on, all of your communications will be directed to the chosen server.

Installing a VPN opens up many entertainment options. However, a VPN won’t get you into subscription services for free. Nor will it protect you from prosecution for the things you write on social media or in blog posts. Remember to be careful about what you publish in Qatar, and don’t engage in activities that could be interpreted as “distributing” offensive material. Other than that, enjoy using any of the five best VPNs for Qatar in our list to protect your internet transmissions and get you access to overseas services.

Best Qatar VPNs: Side-by-Side Summary

Image Credit: Sven Hansche/shutterstock.com

Stephen Cooper
April 11th, 2018

Stephen Cooper is a techy geek with a social edge. Downshifting from a successful IT career in Europe, Cooper moved to the Caribbean and now keeps up to speed with Internet technology poolside.

4 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Qatar in 2018 – Are VPNs allowed in Qatar?

  1. Bearby says:

    Hi, my husband and I are moving to Qatar soon and we know very little (almost nothing) about VPN.

    In the article “5 ways to protect yourself when your VPN connection fails”, it mentioned the benefits of having a internet kill switch. It sounds like it is a very important feature to have. Which VPN provider would you recommend If we want support for 2 simultaneous computers/devices and have a kill switch? We are from Canada and we still want to access our Netflix account.

    Thanks in advance,

    bearby

    1. Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Bearby,

      Unfortunately, Netflix has announced plans to clamp down on viewers who use VPN (and SmartDNS)to evade its geoblocks, although how serious it is about this remains to be seen (and the fact that you have a Canadian account with a Canadian payment method may help.) A kill switch is a good idea, and many providers offer one, such as AirVPN (“networkk lock”), BolehVPN), and VPNArea (which has excellent customer support, which may be a good thing as you are new to VPN.) You mighty also want to keep an eye out for my upcoming Beginners Guide to VPN.

  2. Jose says:

    Hi there! Just moved to Qatar and am very concerned about restrictions, getting arrested or deported over what i browse/download, etc, so looking for the best VPN for me… Seeing that this Top-5 is 2 years old, which would be your #1 choice today?

    I do see that ExpressVPN is #1 overall as of October 2015, but it offers support for only 1 simultaneous computer, and i need at least 2.

    Thanks!

    1. Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Jose,

      ExpressVPN allows 1 computer + 1 mobile device, but if this is not enough for you, then I can’t recommend AirVPN highly enough. Whichever service you chose, ensure you have a internet kill switch so your internet activity is not exposed if the VPN goes down. Many providers include such a skill switch in their software client (such as AirVPN), or you can use a third part solution.

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