Qatar, although generally regarded as one of the freest countries in the Middle East, is an Islamic country, and there are some very tight controls on internet use in place (despite the fact that around 80% if the population in Qatar consists of immigrant workers who may or may not be Muslim). Most of this censorship is not carried out through direct government oversight, but by the state sponsored ISP QTel, who despite having their monopoly officially ended in 2006, remain the only internet provider in Qatar. This censorship is carried out in accordance with guidelines issued by Qatar’s law enforcement bodies.

On the social level, Qatar filters anything considered pornographic (the definition of which is much stricter than in the West), dating and escort services, gay and lesbian content, as well as tools aimed at circumventing such censorship. There are many complaints made about censorship of websites that have no ‘obscene’ or ‘offensive’ content.

Despite being fairly free, and having freedom of speech guaranteed by its constitution, there is some filtering of political content, particularly content that is critical of powerful Middle Eastern leaders. Although home to Al-Jazeera, a media broadcast network noted for its willingness to broadcast controversial opinions, self-censorship by journalists on sensitive issues is common, which is hardly surprising when using the internet for ‘the purposes of disturbing, irritating or offending any persons’ carries a jail sentence.

Most censorship of the internet in Qatar is in the form of internet blocks, rather than through the use of surveillance, although Reporters Without Borders has released a report claiming that Qtel ‘has the means to spy on messages sent through the other ISPs’.

qatar block

Communications such as social media, chat, VoIP and emails are, according to a U.S. State Department Human Rights report, heavy monitored and censored. VoIP is currently legal for personal and business use, but cannot be sold or resold except by QTel and Vodaphone Qatar, who have been licensed to do so. Newly proposed legislation (May 2013) however, reacting to the role played by social media in the ‘Arab Spring’ of other countries in the region in 2011, is aimed at introducing a slew of restrictions on such services.

In addition to censorship from within Qatar, large international companies such as Google and Facebook are known to censor certain content and search terms within the Middle East. Whether this is done on their own initiative, or in collaboration with regional governments, is unknown as these companies are not transparent about such things.

VPN in Qatar

Although blocks exist to try to prevent it, the use of VPN to bypass Qatar’s censorship is very common. In fact, the huge numbers of internet cafes that have sprung up over last few years routinely allow residents to access pornographic material (for example).

Using a VPN you create a securely encrypted tunnel between your computer and a VPN server. Your ISP (such as QTel) cannot ‘see’ what you get up to on the internet. Although we generally recommend using a VPN provider who keeps no logs (so they cannot be handed over to any authorities or copyright enforcement bodies), residents of Qatar may not be so concerned.

In most cases servers located in Europe, which has very few censorship laws, and is close enough for data lag to be a minimal problem, are probably your best option. Some international VPN providers do have a presence in the Middle East, but as most countries in the region also strictly monitor the internet, they are probably not ideal. That said, depending on what you are using a VPN for, their close proximity will mean faster internet connection speeds.

Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo

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2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo

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3

logo $11.52/month

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4

logo $9.00/mo

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5

logo $9.95/mo

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Winner

ExpressVPN

4,95/5

  • PROS
  • Easy-to-use softwares
  • Excellent speeds
  • Good customer service
  • CONS
  • Bit pricy
  • But worth it for the features

ExpressVPN have been around for a while, and have slowly and methodically built a great company. When we tested them their speeds were excellent, the sofware was really easy to use, and their 24/7 customer service also delivered on the promises.

Their pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. As I said above, the price is worth these positive points. The company boasts servers in 78 different countries, which means you can appear to be in any country you want.

Try Out the Best VPN for Qatar Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day moneyback guarantee

2nd place

VyprVPN

4,9/5

  • PROS
  • Fast
  • 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only)
  • Android app
  • iOS app
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • No usage logs
  • CONS
  • Not much
  • Price on high end

Run by global internet consortium Golden Frog, VyprVPN is a great choice for users in Qatar, especially as it runs its own data centers, which is not something any other VPN boasts, and therefore has excellent speeds. It keeps no usage logs (although it does keep some connection logs), and allows P2P downloading. Encryption is rock-solid at 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN, and the fact that you can connect up to 2 devices at once (or 3 for the premier package) is really good. Note that these comments only refer to the slightly pricey (our only real criticism) Pro plan, and that the PPTP only basic version should be avoided.

There is also a 3 day free trial now, and a 7 day moneyback guarantee, so you can’t really go wrong with them! Click the link below now!

» Visit VyprVPN


3rd place

Hide My Ass

4,7/5

  • PROS
  • Servers in Turkey and Jordan
  • Great VPN client makes changing servers very easy
  • Lots of other freebies on-site to help maintain anonymity on the internet
  • CONS
  • Keeps logs and has a history of collaboration with the authorities
  • A bit pricey
  • UK company

This large UK company is not a great choice if privacy is a great concern for you, as it keeps logs and the UK is as guilty of blanket spying as the US. However, in other terms it is an excellent choice, as it is a fast service with a good Windows and OSX VPN client. HMA also has a Middle East presence, with servers in Turkey and Jordan, which may prove handy if you live or work in Qatar.

» Visit HideMyAss


4th place

AirVPN

4,65/5

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Transparent service
  • Fast
  • Excellent attitude to privacy
  • VPN though SSL and SSH tunnels
  • Tor over VPN
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • None

AirVPN is another company to keep an eye on if you are concerned about privacy. It uses super-secure 256-bit AES encryption and supports ultra-cool VPN technologies such as VPN over Tor and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels. Set up by Italian Pirate Part supporters, AirVPN proudly adheres to various privacy related EU directives and codes of best practice, keeps no logs, and accepts Bitcoin payments.

» Visit AirVPN


5th place

PureVPN

4,55/5

  • PROS
  • P2P: yes (on some servers)
  • ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP and OpenVPN encryption
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • iOS app
  • Android app
  • 3 days money back guarantee
  • Servers in Turkey
  • CONS
  • Keeps logs (but based in Hong Kong)

Like HMA, PureVPN is a large provider with a presence in the Middle East (Turkey). Although it does keep logs, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which doesn’t spy on the internet (like the US and UK), and is fairly immune to most pressures from international law. The service is fast, has perfectly good Windows and OSX clients, and also has apps for Android and OSX.

» Visit PureVPN


Conclusion

The internet is heavily censored in Qatar, but VPN is a fairly easy, low cost and secure solution to evading the blocks and surveillance in place. Do please however remember, that if you are caught with content on your hard drive (etc.) that is deemed illegal (such as pornography), the consequences can be severe.


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

3

logo $11.52/month

Read Review >
Visit Site >

4

logo $9.00/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

5

logo $9.95/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+

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4 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Qatar

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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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