Following tensions between the Shia and Sunni population, the Bahraini government has imposed severe restrictions on internet freedom, even prosecuting some users for siding with the Shiite minority.
Alarmingly, one man was sentenced to prison for six years for retweeting content that was critical of the king. In total, 27 arrests were made throughout 2017 for political content posted online, with one group of seven prisoners receiving a combined sentence of seventeen years.
Bahrain has also experience cutdowns in available content, including (but not limited to) Qatari news sites such as Al Jazeera, most messaging apps, and opposition news outlets. This is not to mention the year-long “internet curfew” in Diraz following the military crackdown on peaceful Shiite protests.
It goes without saying, then, that users in Bahrain – whether residential or merely visiting – need to safeguard their personal information with a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN disguises your identity and location by connecting you to a remote server and encrypting the channel to ensure your data remains totally private.
As such, we’re here to help you find the best VPN for Bahrain. We’ve rounded up eight options that fulfil the following criteria:
- it must keep your data private and secure;
- it should provide great value for money;
- and it should not be located within the 5/9/14 Eyes alliance.
1. NordVPN ‣
- Location: Panama
- Pricing: starts at $2.99
- Features: great security, great speeds, massive server list, torrenting, support
If you’ve read anything about Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) before, there’s a strong chance you’ll have heard of NordVPN. It’s one of the clear market leaders, and easily one of the best VPNs for Bahrain.
Located in Panama, NordVPN is well away from the legal grasp of the 14 Eyes alliance. Not only this, but it safeguards user data with 256-bit encryption which is practically unhackable. (It also offers Double VPN, just to make sure.)
NordVPN is also one of the faster options on this list. Furthermore, it has 5,200+ servers spread across 65 countries, meaning that there are few geo-restricted regions Nord can’t unblock.
The beauty of this VPN is its competitive pricing. With such a range of powerful software available for so little, there’s a reason NordVPN enjoys the reputation it has.
2. ExpressVPN ‣
- Location: British Virgin Islands
- Pricing: starts at $8.32
- Features: great security, great protocols, large server list, torrenting, live chat support
ExpressVPN is another big name in the cybersecurity industry. It’s considerably more expensive than NordVPN, but some might say it’s earned the right to charge these higher-rate prices.
If nothing else, ExpressVPN leads the market in terms of accessibility, with extensions available for every major browser and custom apps for ever major operating system.
What’s more, it uses the same AES-256-CBC cipher as Nord does, and its registry in the British Virgin Islands makes it free from invasive data retention laws.
ExpressVPN also excels in its server fleet, which currently amounts to over two thousand in total. While that may not be as many as Nord offers, it’s worth noting that these servers are spread across over ninety countries which, again, makes for greater accessibility.
With support for torrenting and geo-unblocking, ExpressVPN genuinely offers a great deal for the admittedly high asking price, and it clearly remains a contender for the best VPN for Bahrain.
3. ProtonVPN ‣
- Location: Switzerland
- Pricing: starts at $4.00; free option available
- Features: great security, geo-unblocking, user-friendliness, support, great free version
The golden rule of the VPN market is that free providers are not to be trusted. As with all rules, however, there is usually an exception – in this case, that exception is ProtonVPN.
If the name “ProtonVPN” rings a bell, that’s because it’s made by the same Swiss research scientists – that’s right, scientists – behind ProtonMail. Those folks know what they’re doing with the Hadron Collider, and as it turns out, they know what they’re doing with VPN, too.
As a result, they’ve excelled in making a VPN that doesn’t have a terrible free option. All ProtonVPN packages come with 256-bit encryption, and the higher-level paid-for options also have added security features such as multi-hop and Tor-over-VPN.
Given that it’s a CERN-developed project, ProtonVPN is registered in Switzerland. This is a privacy-plus, as Switzerland is not a 14 Eyes member, nor does it tend to intrude on its users’ personal information.
If you’re on a budget, ProtonVPN is the best free VPN for Bahrain. If you’re willing to pay a little bit extra though, it’s easily one of the best VPNs for Bahrain in any category.
4. VyprVPN ‣
- Location: Switzerland
- Pricing: starts at $5.00
- Features: great security, geo-unblocking, large server fleet, live chat support
Another Swiss provider, albeit one that isn’t developed by nuclear scientists. That isn’t a knock on VyprVPN, of course, because most other VPN providers aren’t made by nuclear scientists either.
However, VyprVPN was made by Golden Frog, which also develops the Chameleon protocol. Chameleon, which is implemented into VyprVPN, is designed to prevent ISP throttling and blocking.
Such a practice is common when an ISP can see you’re using a lot of bandwidth. As such, the Chameleon protocol is almost like a long-term plan for your connectivity. Many VPN providers offer lightning-fast speeds, but VyprVPN is dedicated to ensuring it stays that way.
Of course, VyprVPN wouldn’t be here in the first place were it not totally secure. As with our other options, it supports 256-bit encryption, and its no-logs policy has been verified through an independent auditor.
With those factors in mind – as well as the competitive pricing – we can safely say that VyprVPN is definitely one of the best VPNs for Bahrain.
- Location: British Virgin Islands
- Pricing: starts at $1.99
- Features: great security, great speeds, geo-unblocking, unlimited connections, support
Surfshark nails the price-features dynamic, offering a great deal of security to its users for next to nothing. Being registered in the same location (BVI) as ExpressVPN is, of course, a good start.
One of our favorite things about this VPN is that it offers unlimited connections on all packages, which means you can protect every device in your family for less than $2/month.
Astonishingly, Surfshark also uses a much faster encryption cipher than the options we’ve explored thus far: AES-256-GCM. This layers protection more quickly without sacrificing an ounce of the security provided by the more traditional CBC model.
This makes for great download speeds that will only become greater as Surfshark continues to expand its server fleet.
- Location: Seychelles
- Pricing: starts at $8.33
- Features: great security, fantastic speeds, torrenting, geo-unblocking, live chat support
Swinging from Surfshark to Astrill VPN may give you whiplash in terms of pricing. Nevertheless, this VPN provider is an excellent choice for Bahraini users for one very important reason: speed.
Astrill is one of the all-time best in this regard. Not only this, but it’s secured to the hilt too, packing 256-bit encryption and a registry in the privacy haven that is Seychelles.
It’s also a great tool for unblocking geo-restricted content – in Bahrain, of course, this ranges from Netflix to human rights websites.
Furthermore, should anything go wrong, Astrill has a great customer service team behind it, and they’re available around the clock. It’s just the cherry on top of a great VPN; indeed, one of the very best VPN for Bahrain.
- Location: Canada
- Pricing: starts at $1.00
- Features: great security, geo-unblocking, ad blocking, leak protection
Last but not least, we have Windscribe, a VPN provider that has the misfortune of being registered in Canada – a 5 Eyes country.
It’s great to see an active no-logs policy verified in practice, but what makes Windscribe one of the overall best VPNs for Bahrain?
Little else that hasn’t been covered thus far, to be honest, unless you count the ridiculously low price as an added advantage (which you should because it is).
As well as this, it also features an inbuilt ad blocker, which thereby enhances loading speeds overall. While we acknowledge that it isn’t the best choice on this list, then, it’s perfect if you’re strapped for cash.
And the best VPN for Bahrain is…
After thorough testing and a consideration of the needs of Bahrain users, we’ve come to the conclusion that the best VPN for Bahrain is NordVPN.
It matches all our essential criteria perfectly: it’s located well away from the 14 Eyes alliance, it gives you the best cybersecurity money can buy, and it isn’t even a lot of money!
However, we are aware that different users have different needs. Those who want the strongest download speeds overall should go for Astrill VPN, whereas anyone on a budget should try Windscribe or Surfshark.
If you’re in Bahrain, which of these VPNs have you used before? Did we miss any great VPNs for Bahrain? Let us know in the comments below.