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5 Best VPNs for UAE in 2017

The United Arab Emirates has severely restrictive policies when it comes to what you can access online. That makes the UAE a hotspot for people wanting to get around those blocks and restrictions. A VPN for UAE is a way to get around that censorship. VPNs allow subscribers to get around government, ISP, landlord, and geo-restriction notices by allowing them to ‘spoof’ their IP address to a remote location. In addition, good VPNs implement strong encryption to stop those interested parties knowing what users are doing online.

The Best VPNs for UAE in 2017

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. IPVanish
  3. NordVPN
  4. VyprVPN
  5. BolehVPN

Unfortunately, because of recently introduced legislation, using a VPN to access Skype, WhatsApp, Israeli domains, gambling websites, pornography, and sites considered to be politically divisive could land you in serious trouble with the law.

IMPORTANT WARNING: Using a VPN is now illegal in the UAE for doing pretty much anything you would likely want to do with one. VPNs can get you in a lot of trouble, including hefty fines and/or prison time. If you are thinking about getting a VPN in the UAE, we advise that you check out our news report on the subject and make a careful decision about whether the risk is worth taking. Remember that if you decide to do so, you will be using a VPN in the UAE at your own risk. So please consider everything carefully before proceeding.

Usually, we can confidently recommend the OpenVPN encryption protocol because when implemented properly (and used alongside DNS leak protection and a kill switch), it will stop ISPs and the government from snooping on a user’s web traffic. We need you to understand, however, that the UAE’s new law means that the simple act of encrypting your web traffic could land you in prison. As such, using a VPN – so that your ISP can no longer tell what you are doing – may well be enough to flag you up for further investigation by the state. This is especially true because, although OpenVPN is very secure, its use can be detected, which is now a serious problem in UAE.

Please check out the considerations section of this article for possible options for obfuscating the use of OpenVPN, and for our recommendations about how to proceed with using a VPN (as safely as possible) at home – if you decide to do so.

With that said, we have created this five best VPN services for UAE list for anybody who still wants to use a VPN on public WiFi hotspots and the like, where they don’t necessarily run the risk of flagging their home up as that of a VPN user.

Five Best VPNs for UAE: Summary

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
Read Review8.8/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN LogoNordVPN
Read Review8.2/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VyprVPN LogoVyprVPN
Read Review7.6/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

5

BolehVPN LogoBolehVPN
Read Review6.6/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

*All prices shown in US dollars

* Advertiser Disclosure
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

VPN UAE

  • ProsPROS
  • Dedicated iOS and Android apps
  • Servers in 85 countries
  • Lightning fast speeds
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • No usage logs
  • ConsCONS
  • Some connection logs (for internal use)

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for UAE in 2017. The service has lots of servers to choose from all over the world. Connection speeds are outstanding throughout the network and will certainly allow users to watch HD streams. Encryption is OpenVPN (our recommended protocol – but see considerations below), which is implemented to a very high standard. The firm also keeps no usage logs, which is great for privacy. DNS leak protection and a kill switch make this a fully featured VPN product.

Another great feature is ExpressVPN’s stealth server in Hong Kong. Connecting to it is supposed to make it impossible for deep packet inspection to detect OpenVPN usage – important considering the legality of VPN use in UAE.

Finally, customer care is excellent with this VPN and it offers a 30-day money-back  guarantee to make sure it works perfectly for you, risk-free.

Try the best VPN for UAE now!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money-back guarantee!

2nd place

IPVanish

4.4/5

IPVanish Screenshot

  • ProsPROS
  • Fast connection speeds
  • Excellent value for money
  • Servers in over 60 countries
  • P2P: yes
  • Zero logs policy
  • ConsCONS
  • US-based (but has an outstanding zero logs policy)

IPVanish is second because it is a superb VPN that has an excellent zero logs policy. Some people are put off because it is based in the US. However, the policy means that you are not creating any logs that the NSA could get a warrant to seize. Customer care is great (although only available during US working hours) and can help with any problems you might have  thanks to the highly knowledgeable team.

The service is great value compared to some, particularly considering the level of service, number of server locations and strength of the implementation of OpenVPN encryption – this is a serious wow factor. In addition, it is fully featured, with DNS leak protection and a kill switch.

Why is it cheaper? Because it is simple and to the point without any extra features. However, it does have everything you are likely to ever need. As such it is a very close second and well worth consideration.

Finally it a has a seven-day money-back guarantee to allow you to test the service.

Visit IPVanish »


3rd place

NordVPN

4.1/5

NordVPN Screenshot

  • ProsPROS
  • Servers in over 50 countries
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Zero logs
  • Great customer care
  • Strong security features
  • ConsCONS
  • Double encryption can slow you down
  • Speeds not as great as the top two

NordVPN is a good option for UAE VPN users who want extra security options and features. It has servers located all over the globe, and those servers provide pretty good speeds. It is fully featured and has extra things like double encryption, stealth servers, VPN into Tor and shared IPs. Add that to a zero logs policy and you can see why it is considered extra secure.

Our recommended protocol is, of course, OpenVPN (though we do ask you to read through the considerations section below). The firm is also based in Panama, which means that NordVPN is well out of reach of prying eyes. It accepts Bitcoins too.

One thing to consider is that it doesn’t have any servers located in the UAE itself, which might be an issue for some people. So please subscribe to a VPN above if you want UAE servers as well. With a 30-day money-back guarantee in place, you have no reason not to try them!

Visit NordVPN »


4th place

VyprVPN

3.8/5

VyprVPN Screenshot

  • ProsPROS
  • Excellent, fast servers
  • ‘Chameleon’ stealth server
  • Strong encryption
  • SmartDNS
  • Four new servers in Middle East
  • ConsCONS
  • Fairly costly
  • Connection Logs (kept for 30 days)

VyprVPN is a highly trusted VPN owned by internet conglomerate Golden Frog. It owns its own infrastructure of servers, which makes them extra fast and highly secure. In addition, VyprVPN last year released four new Middle Eastern Servers, in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

VyprVPN does keep some connection logs for internal use, but it doesn’t keep any usage logs (the ones that could give away what you do online). Although it is quite costly to sign up for a monthly subscription, it does get a lot cheaper if you pay yearly. So, if a company with its own server network appeals to you, we advise a yearly account.

Encryption is OpenVPN and is implemented strongly. In addition, it does have stealth servers called ‘chameleon’ servers – great for UAE customers. Finally, they offer a three-day free trial to test the service.

Visit VyprVPN »


5th place

BolehVPN

3.3/5

BolehVPN Screenshot

  • ProsPROS
  • Zero logs
  • Useful freebies
  • Fast connections
  • Strong encryption
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Annoying website
  • Support only available in Malaysian daylight hours

BolehVPN is a smaller VPN firm from Malaysia that offers an incredible service, all things considered. It keeps zero logs, which is nice to see, and being based in Malaysia certainly helps for privacy. Encryption is our recommended protocol, OpenVPN. It also offers Torrent optimization and has stealth servers for getting around firewalls and obfuscating the VPN protocol from your ISP.

BolehVPN also did well in testing, with excellent speed test results. Finally, it has a free trial so that you can test the service. A very impressive VPN.

Visit BolehVPN »


Best VPN for UAE: Considerations

While OpenVPN is the most secure VPN encryption protocol available in 2017, it is also true that its use is detectable by internet service providers. That is a huge problem for VPN users in the UAE because VPN use is itself illegal.

How ISPs and the Government Figure it Out

Deep packet inspection (DPI) allows for internet traffic to be labeled as http, ssl, bittorrent, VPN, and so forth. This technology allows regimes like the UAE, China, Iran and Syria to monitor traffic and figure out if you are using OpenVPN. For that reason, you are going to want to use further obfuscation technologies to hide the fact that you are using OpenVPN.

In some cases, such as in Iran, SSL protocol traffic is throttled to such an extent that it is rendered largely unusable. Because Tor (and Tor bridges) use SSL, its developers have created a technology for hiding its use. It is called Obfsproxy.

Obfsproxy

The good news is that Obfproxy can also be used to hide the fact that you are using OpenVPN. As such, it is a great addition for anybody that wants to use a VPN in UAE – because it will stop DPI algorithms from detecting OpenVPN use originating from your IP address. For a full run down on how Obfsproxy works go here. For details on how to set it up for OpenVPN go here.

SSTP

SSTP is a VPN protocol that can be used to send PPP traffic through an SSL/TLS channel. Using SSL/TLS over TCP port 443 allows SSTP to pass through virtually all firewalls and proxy servers.

As such, hiding OpenVPN use by routing it over TCP port 443 in order to disguise it as HTTPS/SSL traffic is a really effective method and one that you might decide to employ.

Stunnel and SSL Tunneling

Stunnel is open source software for creating TLS/SSL tunnels. TLS/SSL is the encryption used by HTTPS. Using it will therefore make your OpenVPN traffic appear like it is regular internet traffic.

It works by wrapping OpenVPN in an extra layer of TLS/SSL encryption. The outcome is that deep packet inspection can’t penetrate the outer layer of encryption to ‘sniff’ your OpenVPN traffic.

The only thing to consider is that stunnel software has to be configured for your PC and VPN provider, so you will need to talk to the provider in order to set it up successfully.

Keep VPN Use to a Minimum

One thing to remember is that when you use a VPN, whether you hide the fact well or not, your IP address stops making regular HTTP and HTTPS traffic that can be traced. Even using SSL tunneling to make VPN use look like regular HTTPS traffic will only do so much. If your ISP looks at your traffic, it won’t be able to see which websites you went to. This, of itself, could be enough to signal to your ISP and the government that something irregular is happening on your internet connection, causing them to investigate where your regular internet traffic has suddenly gone.

For that reason, UAE internet users should continue to create plenty of regular traffic from their IP address. With that in mind, a VPN should only be used to connect to a VPN server using encryption (and obfuscation methods as described above) on rare occasions. Keeping VPN use to when it is absolutely necessary (as opposed to using it all of the time) will help you to seem normal in the eyes of your ISP.

Only Use VPNs in Public Places (for the Highly Paranoid)

If you are too frightened to even approach the idea of using a VPN at home, you could use one in a public place on freely available WiFi. Using a VPN on public WiFi networks will not only stop ISPs and the government from knowing which websites or messaging services you are using, but will also not risk your home IP address being flagged up as that of a VPN user.

Using a coffee shop, library, or hotel’s public WiFi with a VPN will stop you being at risk from hackers on the WiFi network. In addition, it will allow you to securely visit any websites you want, safe in the knowledge that it is the public WiFi that might be flagged up for VPN use rather than you personally.

UAE Siteblocks

Image via: TRA

Stealth Servers

Another option for remaining secure is to use stealth servers, such as ExpressVPN’s Hong Kong server (which was designed to get around the Great Firewall of China). Stealth servers work by disguising VPN traffic as regular traffic, even when analyzed with deep packet inspection by a network administrator, firewall, or ISP.

Using the ‘stealth servers’ mentioned in the provider descriptions above (in combination with TOR and paying by Bitcoin), will, therefore, allow you to somewhat hide VPN use from your ISP. However, don’t forget that too much use of a VPN could still flag you up as having less regular traffic than you used to produce, which could imply VPN use.

One last thing to bear in mind is that VPN providers are nearly always extremely cagey about providing information on how their stealth servers actually work. Without being able to verify them very easily it is hard to recommend them completely. So, please be careful, because watching the UK’s iPlayer or using Skype with VPN is a crime in UAE.

Best VPNs for UAE: Conclusion

The TRA regulators in the UAE are extreme to say the least. With most of the things that people like to do with VPNs outlawed there, you may as well consider VPN use illegal (for all intents and purposes). With that in mind, the UAE and Dubai are places where individuals should be EXTREMELY careful about whether they use a VPN (and which VPN they use). There are more than 850 VPN services out there, and the vast majority of those would be a terrible idea for someone living in the US or Europe, let alone the UAE.

The VPN services in this guide are world class, and give you the best chance of surviving the harsh climate that is present in UAE. They are all secure and they are all proven to be reliable and trustworthy. As such, the decision on which one to go for is down to personal taste and necessity. So, please read our guide carefully before purchasing a subscription and be sure to ask any questions in the comments section below if needed – we are here to help.

Best UAE VPN: Summary

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
Read Review8.8/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN LogoNordVPN
Read Review8.2/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VyprVPN LogoVyprVPN
Read Review7.6/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

5

BolehVPN LogoBolehVPN
Read Review6.6/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

*All prices shown in US dollars

* Advertiser Disclosure

Ray Walsh 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.

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