The Sultanate of Oman both extensively filters the internet (primarily social and religious content), and conducts widespread and omnipresent internet surveillance. Political content is generally accessible in Oman, but there are strict regulations in place regarding what can be said online.

Despite attempts by Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to broaden the number of internet providers’ available, state controlled Omentel (Oman Telecommunications Company) remains the only ISP in Oman, and is responsible (rather than the government directly, or the TRA) for implementing internet censorship.

It does this using US made SmartFilter internet filtering software (now owned by McAfee).

 oman block
Interestingly, Omantel is keen to claim that its censorship decisions are a result of popular customer demand

Extent of the filtering

Most internet filtering is aimed at pornography (which is much more broadly defined in Oman than in the west), although this has been expanded to include criticism of Islam, and drug related material. Social websites where people are ‘provocatively’ dressed, or may exchange explicit content, are also blocked, including gay and lesbian websites (but not ones dealing with gay and lesbian rights issues).

In theory VoIP is banned (although as we understand it only Skype has actually been blocked), as are websites relating to computer hacking and fraud.

Of particular interest to us at BestVPN is that fact that websites providing tools for evading censorship (such as web proxy sites) are also blocked. This is a little strange, as VPN use remains very common in Oman, despite a flurry of reports appearing in 2010, stating that plans were afoot to put banning VPN up for public consultation. Nothing seems to have come of this however.

Internet surveillance

The Omani government, according to the US State Department Human Rights Report 2008, monitors ‘private communications, including mobile phones, e mail, and Internet chat room exchanges’. It has also been known to track users critical of the government officials and policies through their IP address, and 2012 a crackdown on bloggers led to a number of arrests. This caused particular alarm among human right organisations, who were keen to point that Oman’s laws regarding the limits of freedom of expression are very ill defined, making it difficult for bloggers and other commentators to know what content is considered offensive.

Concern over use of Oman’s burgeoning internet cafes has led to regulations regarding the computer screens always being visible to a supervisor, and encouragement of café owners to monitor and log customers’ internet activity using proxy servers.

VPN for Oman

VPN use to bypass Omantel filtering and government surveillance is very common in Oman, as it creates an encrypted data tunnel between your computer and a VPN server, which means that data can only be seen at either your end or the server’s. VPN companies make a business of not handing over information they collect to anyone, although we much prefer those who keep no logs, and therefore have nothing to hand over whatever the circumstances.

Because of heavy censorship issues throughout the Middle East, we highly recommend using an international VPN provider. As far as server locations are concerned, India is much closer than Europe (and therefore you will experience less lag), but has some censorship issues of its own. Eastern European countries such as Romania and Moldova have an uncensored internet and no data retention laws, which make them a good location to access the internet from if you are in Oman.

Some international VPN providers do have servers located in the Middle East, which you may find handy thanks to having minimum lag issues, as long as the content you are accessing is not sensitive.


Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Grade Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo

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2

$6.99/mo

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3

logo $9.95/mo

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4

logo $10/mo

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5

logo $7.00/mo

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Take a look below to see slightly more detailed views about each provider.

Winner

VyprVPN

4,95/5

  • PROS
  • Fast
  • 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only
  • 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 Oman, 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.

Try Out the Best VPN for Oman Today!

» Visit VyprVPN

3 day free trial

2nd place

CyberGhost

4,9/5

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Great VPN client with internet kill switch
  • Good free service
  • 30 day free trial
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Romania
  • CONS
  • Does not accept Bitcoin
  • VPN client is Windows only (although guides are provides for setting OpenVPN up on other devices)

If keeping logs is an issue for you, then Romanian VPN provider CyberGhost is good choice as it keeps none. We are little disappointed that CyberGhost doesn’t accept Bitcoin payments (always a good sign in a provider who is serious about privacy), but feel the 30 day free trial of the Premium service, together with its very good free offering, somewhat makes up for this. CyberGhost is fast, and the Windows software is fully featured and includes an internet kill switch (to disconnect from the internet in the event of a VPN fail).

» Visit CyberGhost


3rd place

PureVPN

4,7/5

  • 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 and Romania
  • CONS
  • Keeps logs (but based in Hong Kong)

PureVPN Pro is a large and fully featured VPN service, with servers in Turkey and Romania. It uses ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP or OpenVPN encryption and has apps for iOS and Android. Although it does keep logs, as a Hong Kong based company (and therefore only minimally subject to international law and copyright enforcement) this is unlikely to be much of an issue.

» Visit PureVPN


4th place

IPVanish

4,65/5

  • PROS
  • 3500+ IP addresses with over 90 servers in 20 countries (including India, Hong Kong, Moldova and Romania)
  • Fast (with amazing upload speeds)
  • Nice VPN client
  • CONS
  • ‘No logs’ policy is a joke
  • P2P: no
  • US company

Another big company, IPVanish has servers all over the place, including India (New Delhi and Mumbia), Moldova and Romania. It does claim to keep no logs and use shared IPs to prevent individual users’ being identified with any online behaviour, but as we received a disconnection threat from them over alleged copyright infringement, we would take that claim with a very big pinch of salt. IPVanish is extremely fast however (in fact it has some of the best results we have seen, especially on upload speeds), and has servers very usefully located for users in Oman.

» Visit IPVanish


5th place

Mullvad

4,55/5

logo

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Good speeds
  • Cheap
  • Client features internet kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • Source code for software available
  • CONS
  • No flash router support

Although a little far away from Oman to fully recommend due to possible lag issues from its servers in Sweden and the Netherlands (we recommend avoiding servers in Germany), if you want a low cost, no logs service that accepts Bitcoin payment (and cash in the post!), and has a fully featured VPN client with DNS leak protection, an internet kill switch, server load information and port forwarding, you could do a lot worse than the small but excellent Mullvad.

» Visit Mullvad


Conclusion

The internet in Oman is heavy censored and monitored. If you wish to evade this, then VPN is probably the best solution. Fortunately there are many providers around who well placed to provide a fast and secure service.


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Grade Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

2

$6.99/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

3

logo $9.95/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

4

logo $10/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

5

logo $7.00/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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3 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Oman

  1. Thanks a lot for your advices.
    Im from paris and I going in september for a job to Oman.

    I would like to know what do you think about Express VPN

    Perhaps i will get Ghost. the price is for only one computer or could I use both my Iphone and one computer ?

    best regards
    jfm

    1. Hi Jean-François,

      ExpressVPN are fine, and provide a funky Android app if that is your thing. They do keep logs and prohibit P2P, but if simply evading Omani censorship is your aim, this may not be a problem. We much prefer CyberGhost however (for the reasons given in the article). The basic CyberGhost premium package only allows 1 device to be connected at once (a drawback we agree), but the Premium Pro package ($10.99/pm) allows you connect up to 5 devices simultaneously (and upgrades the encryption to 256-bit). You may also be interested in this article – http://bestvpncom.wpengine.com/blog/6208/5-best-vpns-for-simultaneous-connections/.

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