Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh

May 9, 2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) censors a wide range of web content. While access to news is generally not restricted, pornography, dating, gambling – and even VoIP services like Skype – are often deemed to be culturally or religiously incompatible and blocked. A UAE VPN will let you pretend to be outside of UAE to bypass all those blocks. What’s more, a VPN lets you do this in absolute privacy thanks to encryption.

For people who disagree with censorship and want access to blocked sites, a VPN for UAE is the perfect solution. UAE VPNs also permit citizens (or visitors) to access geo-restricted online services such as Netflix, sports streams, BBC iPlayer, and much more. A VPN for UAE gives you freedom and privacy, which is a fundamental human right!

Our experts have tested over 150 VPN services in the last five years looking for the best UAE VPN services, here is a quick look at the best VPN in UAE:

The 5 Best UAE VPNs : Side-by-Side Comparison

Below is a quick look at the 5 best VPNs for UAE. For more details please scroll down to the summaries.

ProviderPriceOur ScoreVisit
1Visit Site »
ExpressVPN review »
From
$6.67
/month

9.8

Our Score
Visit Site »
ExpressVPN review »
Special Offer: 49% off today!
2
VyprVPN review »
Visit Site »
From
$4.17
/month

8.8

Our Score
Visit Site »
VyprVPN review »
3
PrivateVPN review »
Visit Site »
From
$2.73
/month

8.6

Our Score
Visit Site »
PrivateVPN review »
4
IPVanish review »
Visit Site »
From
$3.33
/month

8.2

Our Score
Visit Site »
IPVanish review »
5
BolehVPN review »
Visit Site »
From
$6.67
/month

7.6

Our Score
Visit Site »
BolehVPN review »

What are the Best VPNs in UAE?

9.8/10.0

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 49% off today!
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Strong encryption
  • Stealth mode
  • Kill switch and Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection
  • Very fast connection speeds
CONS:
  • A bit pricey – but worth it!

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for UAE for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a highly trusted and reliable VPN that implements very strong OpenVPN encryption and a solid privacy policy. Furthermore, the VPN is fully featured with everything you need to keep your data private from the government. In addition to a kill switch and DNS leak protection, ExpressVPN has a stealth mode, which stops ISPs noticing VPN use (and thus overcomes bandwidth throttling). Servers are located in 94 countries and all of those servers provide lightning fast connections (perfect for streaming Netflix US in HD). ExpressVPN also provides 24/7 live chat support.

The VPN is available for all the popular platforms and can be used on three devices simultaneously. What’s more, the VPN provides a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can use the VPN risk-free to make sure it works for you. Finally, it is possible to pay in bitcoins for added privacy.

Try the best VPN for UAE now!

Visit ExpressVPN »30-day money-back guarantee!

8.8/10.0

VyprVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Servers in over 60 countries
  • Strong encryption
  • Chameleon (stealth mode)
  • Kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • No usage logs
CONS:
  • Peer-to-peer (torrenting) not permitted
  • Some connection logs kept

VyprVPN is owned by the internet conglomerate Golden Frog. For this reason, it owns the entire infrastructure of servers that it runs the service on. Encryption is very strong and the privacy policy is excellent (but doesn’t permit torrenting). The VPN is fully featured, with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. In addition, it has a very secure stealth mode (called chameleon). Connection speeds are also superb on this UAE VPN.

8.6/10.0

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Best value for your money
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
  • High streaming speeds
  • Strong encryption
CONS:
  • DNS must be configured manually

Sweden-based VPN provider, PrivateVPN, is an excellent choice for a UAE VPN, especially after winning BestVPN.com’s “Best Value VPN” of 2018. Not only do you get a full service VPN at an affordable price, but you get 54 server locations, excellent customer service, super fast streaming speeds, and great encryption.

PrivateVPN is particularly ideal for getting into Netflix; supporting 16 different Netflix regions! PrivateVPN also offers six simultaneous connections, WiFi protection, and a 30-day money-back guarantee for unsatisfied customers.

8.2/10.0

IPVanish Homepage
PROS:
  • Servers in over 50 countries
  • Socket Secure (SOCKS5) proxy
  • Kill switch and port forwarding
  • Fast speeds
  • Strong encryption
CONS:
  • Based in US (but keeps zero logs)
  • Customer care not as good as the VPNs above

IPVanish is a super fast VPN that is very good for use in the UAE. Although it doesn’t have a stealth mode per-say, it does provide SOCKS5 proxy, which encrypts traffic as HTTPS on port 443. Encryption is strong OpenVPN (though not as strong as the VPNs above). The privacy policy is no logs, which nicely makes up for it being based in the US. The great thing about this VPN for the UAE is that it provides very fast connection speeds.

Furthermore, the VPN in fully featured, with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. If you want to be extremely secure and want to use stealth mode, then choose a VPN higher in the list. However, if you aren’t paranoid (and understand that the UAE government has not been prosecuting UAE VPN users), then this VPN will actually be a very good service for a fantastic price. Finally it provides a seven-day money-back guarantee.

7.6/10.0

BolehVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Servers in 13 countries
  • Strong encryption
  • Zero logs
  • Fast speeds
  • x-cloak (stealth mode)
CONS:
  • No live chat support

This is an excellent VPN for UAE. It has every feature you need to stay secure (kill switch, and stealth mode). Servers are located in 13 countries, which is fewer than the VPNs above, but the servers are all placed very well and are extremely useful for unblocking content. This VPN is also extremely good value for money. With strong privacy assured and fast speeds, this is definitely a VPN worth considering for use in the UAE. Sadly, it has no money-back guarantee, but you can get a one-day free trial.

VPNs for Dubai & UAE | FAQs

Below we tackle some of the common questions and misconceptions we often encounter around using and choosing the right VPN for UAE.

What is a VPN for UAE?

A Virtual Private Network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. It lets you use the internet without ISPs, governments, workplaces, schools, WiFi network administrators – or anybody else – snooping on your activities.

This is achieved thanks to encryption and also means that hackers cannot steal your passwords or credit card details when you use public WiFi.

Next, a VPN can mask your real IP address (location), allowing you to pretend to be anywhere in the world. In the UAE, this lets you bypass local censorship imposed by ISPs on behalf of the government. Choosing a UK or the US IP address, for example, lets you access the internet as if you were in that particular country. It also lets you use services that are supposed to only be available in that region.

For more information on VPNs & encryption, check out our Beginner’s Guide to VPNs.

Why do I need a VPN for UAE?

A VPN is important in the UAE for two main reasons:

Digital Privacy in UAE

Whether you are visiting the UAE for a short time or living there, the government is watching what you do online. It is easy to get in trouble with the authorities for accessing the wrong content, which is why using a VPN in Dubai and across the UAE is so important.

Website access in UAE

Many people in the Emirates want to access unbiased news or other online resources that are restricted. Some people want to access gambling sites to make a bet, others want to access pornography or even artistic works that contain nudity. Others, such as journalists, may simply have an interest in accessing Israeli websites. The list is endless. With a reliable VPN for UAE you can access all of this content.

If you would like to know more about how VPNs work to unblock content, check out our Guide to Geo-Spoofing with a VPN.

Who is blocking websites in the UAE?

In the UAE, a government agency called the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) controls web censorship. It decides what must be blacked out by ISPs. Most of the content that is blocked contains nudity, though other content is banned if it is not aligned with the Emirate’s laws.

How do I choose a VPN in UAE?

Many VPNs are insecure and do not have the encryption levels, features, and privacy policies required to stay secure in the Emirates.

There are over 850 commercial VPNs on the market and many could get you into trouble due to bad security implementation. This is especially true of free VPNs, which often sell user data to third parties to create a revenue stream.

All of the VPNs in this article have been carefully selected because they are known to provide the security levels necessary to ensure your privacy in UAE.

Is it legal to use a VPN?

Many people need to use VPNs for business. Owning and using a VPN in UAE is not illegal. However, accessing something that you aren’t supposed to with a VPN is illegal. Accessing content that has been censored by the TRA could land you a hefty fine and/or prison time. Having said that, VPNs are – by their very nature – difficult to monitor, and many people in the country successfully use VPNs and don’t get prosecuted.

If you are considering subscribing to a VPN in the UAE, we advise that you stick with one of the reputable providers featured in our top 5 list. At the end of the day, whether you decide to use a VPN in the UAE or not is your choice and you do so at your own risk.

The most important VPN features for UAE

Because most people want a VPN to use Skype – or access blocked content in the UAE – it is essential that the VPN has all the most important security features. It is also vital that you use those features otherwise you may discover that your VPN will not work in UAE. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Strong OpenVPN encryption. Encryption will keep your data private from ISPs, governments, and local network admin tracking.
  • Killswitch. This feature is essential because it stops you accidentally leaking unencrypted data to your ISP if the VPN drops out. Without a kill switch, you could accidentally let a local network administrator or your ISP (and therefore the government) know what you are doing online.
  • Stealth mode. Due to the fact that most people use a VPN to access illegal content, it is generally better to conceal not only your traffic (using the VPN’s encryption) but also the VPN traffic itself (so that nobody knows you are using a VPN at all). This is achieved using a feature called VPN cloaking/stealth mode.

If privacy is important to you, take a minute to review our Ultimate Privacy Guide for a more in-depth look at these features.

VPN detection and cloaking

OpenVPN is the most secure VPN protocol available on the market. However, it is possible to use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze web traffic and discover that OpenVPN is in use.

In most places, this is not a problem. However, in UAE you could be prosecuted for unblocking content. Even just signs of VPN use could cause potentially raise eyebrows. For this reason, it is generally recommended that residents of UAE use VPN cloaking (usually known as ‘stealth’ mode). Fortunately, several VPNs in our Best VPN for UAE list have this feature.

The most basic form of stealth is TCP over port 443. Port 443 is used for regular HTTPS traffic. By using this port, OpenVPN encryption is disguised as regular HTTPS traffic. Better stealth modes use Stunnel or Obfsproxy.  Our top 3 VPNs for UAE  have outstanding stealth mode tech.

If you’re looking for more VPNs chocked full of top features, why not check out our Best VPN Services guide?

UAE VPN for Skype

As of late 2017, the UAE has completely cracked down on the use of Skype. The government does this to protect local telecoms providers such as MNC Etisalat. Other VoIP apps are also blocked – WhatsApp, for example, is prohibited. 

Anybody wanting to use VoIP apps will require a reliable VPN. However, because it is unlawful to use these services you must be very careful about which VPN you decide to use

To make sure you’re picking the right VPN, take a look at our Best 5 VPNs for Skype recommendations.

Streaming with a fast UAE VPN

Visitors to the UAE, or citizens who like to watch foreign TV, movies, and sports competitions, may want to use a VPN in the UAE to access foreign TV channels. Most TV channels are only available in the country where they are intended for broadcast. This is due to copyright licensing restrictions.

The good news is that with a UAE VPN you can access foreign TV streams such as the UK’s iPlayer, the US’ ABC or ESPN, or Australia’s Ten Network. With a VPN, the world is your oyster!

Sadly, a lot of VPNs suffer from extremely slow speeds. This means that you will spend most your time waiting for the stream to buffer.

The VPNs for UAE in this article have all been selected because they provide exactly what you need to enjoy streaming in HD. These are the very best VPNs available today, with lightning fast servers!

For a more thorough look at the fastest VPNs on the market, check out our 5 Fastest VPNs guide.

Conclusion

While it is true that accessing restricted content with a VPN is illegal, the reality is that the legislation is rarely enforced. Despite this, it is essential to use a VPN that doesn’t fall under UAE jurisdiction. Furthermore, the VPN should be a trusted and reliable provider that is well known for protecting its subscribers. Not all VPNs are created equal – so please stick to our recommended services.

All of the VPNs in this article have strong encryption and outstanding privacy policies. They also have all the necessary features needed to guarantee your protection. A killswitch and DNS leak protection are vital, and all of our recommendations have these features.

Beyond that, stealth mode is recommended depending on your threat model. If you are only planning to stream foreign TV you will probably be ok without it. Finally, all of these VPNs were selected because they are lightning fast, which means you can do data intensive tasks like streaming in HD and gaming! Welcome to true internet freedom!

Ray Walsh
May 10th, 2018

I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality, and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood, and love to listen to trap music.

20 responses to “5 Best VPNs for UAE in 2018

  1. I regulary travel to the UAE (every 6 weeks or so) and i have used PIA (Private Internet Access) VPN for many years. Unfortunately due to new laws in the UAE this service no lonegr works. It is important to note that I have seen Doug Crawford state a few times that the use of a VPN itself is not ilegal, only what you can potentially do with it; THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE. As of January 1st 2018 it became a criminal offence to use a VPN in the UAE and now carries a prison term of 6 years. This is why PIA no longer works. it is unlikely that the use of a VPN would be enforced, and i’ve even discussed this openly with IT staff in the hotel I use, however I am keen to find a service that will defintiley work while I am out there that has been tested first hand since January 1st 2018. Can anyone offer testimony?

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for the input. The law did read:

      “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 and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.”

      If you can point me to sources that confirm this has changed I would be very grateful.

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