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Users in the UAE deal with a lot of government-sanctioned online censorship via the country’s two ISPs: Etisalat and du. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) provide security and privacy for internet users and help them access blocked VoIP services, gambling sites, porn sites, as well as information on sites like Wikipedia.
VPNs can also keep users safe from surveillance – which is definitely a factor in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Finally, VPNs open up a whole world of streaming content and P2P downloads for users in the UAE, allowing you to defeat Netflix geo-blocking with the click of a button. So read on to find our picks for the best VPN for United Arab Emirates customers, and find the ideal tool to mix security and entertainment.
No time to read? Here are our best VPNs:
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The best VPN for UAE
Forward-thinking and highly affordable
Cheapest VPN for UAE
All-around great VPN
NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2
- NordLynx protocol for both - security and speeds
- Onion over VPN (Tor over VPN)
- Crypto payments
- No router app
We firmly believe that the best VPN for UAE is NordVPN. Based in Panama, the service is located far away from surveillance alliances. Also, the service has a strict no-logs policy in place – they won’t store any of your data. NordVPN is as private a service as it gets.
As of writing this article, NordVPN has 20 servers in the United Arab Emirates. There are plenty of other middle eastern locations as well, so you’ll always have options in case your favorite server gets scheduled for maintenance. Not only will this help with your ordinary browsing, but it will be vital when watching Netflix or downloading torrents. With this service, you can do both.
Security is untouchable, with military-grade 256-bit encryption, outstanding DNS, and IP protection. They also recently unveiled their proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol, which is based on WireGuard and much faster than OpenVPN or IKEv2.
You can try NordVPN for one month and then refund before 29 days is up using their 30-day money-back guarantee. This should be plenty of time to test all premium features.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
2. Surfshark VPN
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
- Great security feature, including kill-switch
- No-logging policy
- Unlimited simultaneous connections.
- Weak self-help support section
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands – a very privacy-friendly location with no data retention laws. This is important when choosing a VPN service if you want to be sure your data is not being collected. Surfshark also has a strict no-logs policy, with means the maximum level of privacy.
At the moment, Surfshark has 3200+ servers in 65+ countries, including in the UAE. Each connection is encrypted using the military-grade AES-256 cipher – the tunneling protocols used are OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec. No one will be able to know what you’re doing online.
This VPN has easy to use apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android, but supports a range of devices beyond the ones listed here. You can try SurfShark for free if you first install it via the Play Store or App Store. You really should – it’s one of the best services for UAE and Dubai if you’re looking for ways to bypass the Internet censorship.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, Chameleon, WireGuard
- Excellent security
- Unlimited bandwidth
- P2P friendly
- No anonymous payment
Based in Switzerland, VyprVPN is a solid VPN service for UAE – it bypasses the blocks of even the most restrictive countries.
This VPN encrypts your connection to the server with 256-bit AES encryption. It uses OpenVPN and IKEv2 tunneling protocols for data stream exchanges. If you’re looking for an even higher level of safety, there’s also their proprietary Chameleon protocol that scrambles your traffic to bypass deep packet inspection filters. This tech is so advanced it even beats the Great Firewall of China.
Once you get VyprVPN, your access to the internet will be fully unrestricted. Netflix runs like a dream, along with any other streaming service you could name. Gaming is smooth and P2P is supported as well. Moreover, you can connect five devices in one household, making VyprVPN suitable for families.
VyprVPN offers 24/7 live chat customer support. Plus, each purchase is protected by a standard 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
- Excellent security
- Stealth Mode
- DNS leak protection
- macOS and iOS apps have fewer features
PrivateVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around – an excellent option for streamers and torrenters alike. Full P2P support and excellent Netflix unblocking make it perfect for entertainment fans. It helps that you can simultaneously connect six devices with one subscription; this should be more than enough for most households.
With this service, you won’t need to worry about anyone watching from behind. Encryption is strong and there are secure tunneling protocols to choose from in OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) and L2TP/IPSec. It will be impossible to hijack your connection even when connected on a public WiFi.
You’ll be delighted to know that you can try PrivateVPN for free for seven days. You won’t need any credit card details to get it. Plus, if you subscribe and something doesn’t match your expectations, you’re protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP
- Great security features, including split tunneling
- Many cryptocurrencies supported
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Weak kill switch
PureVPN is Asia’s leading VPN provider. Based in Hong Kong, it’s been around for a while now and has a massive customer base. This includes plenty of Emirati web users, and it’s easy to see why.
Its network has many servers located in the Middle East, so finding a good connection shouldn’t be tough. P2P is well supported too, making PureVPN great for torrents.
The service uses impenetrable AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, WireGuard, and IKEv2 tunneling protocols. Not all of these are available on every device, but most of the time, you’ll have several options. One subscription gets you 10 simultaneous connections, which should be more than enough for most people.
What we especially like about PureVPN is that this service often has fantastic discounts. Now you can purchase PureVPN for only $2.91/month. That’s one of the lowest prices for a full-featured VPN that we’ve ever seen and a terrific deal.
For a deeper investigation of PureVPN, read our PureVPN review.
6. Perfect Privacy VPN
OpenVPN, IPsec, SSH2 tunnel
- Excellent security features
- TOR and SOCKS5 included
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Some website logs
If you’re a power-user, you will find few better professional grade VPN services for UAE than Perfect Privacy. It has several features you won’t find elsewhere. For instance, the VPN bundles in NeuroRouting and TrackStop – advanced tools that speed up browsing and neutralize online tracking.
There’s also highly customizable kill switch, random exit IP address configurations, and even a port forwarding option. Needless to say, if you’re going to meddle in the settings, you should know what you’re doing. With VPNs as technical as this one, it’s easy to leave some security holes without knowing.
The VPN is also equipped with StealthVPN capabilities that disguise your traffic and let it bypass even blocks like the Great Firewall of China. This feature works wonders if you want to unblock geo-restricted sites.
With their unlimited bandwidth, you can even stream HD videos with ease as it also unblocks Netflix. If you’re OK with a higher price tag but are a professional user, it would make sense to subscribe to Perfect Privacy’s service.
For a deeper investigation of Perfect Privacy VPN, read our Perfect Privacy VPN review.
IKEv2 and OpenVPN
- Excellent security features, including kill switch
- Reasonably fast
- P2P friendly
- Not a very large server list
VPNArea isn’t the best-known provider, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. It’s a high-quality alternative VPN for UAE. Located outside the 5 or 14 Eyes, Bulgaria is a very privacy-friendly location. It’s illegal in Bulgaria for companies to log customer data.
Aside from policies, it’s an impressive service in technical aspects as well. You can choose between the IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols, which are combined with a 256-bit AES cipher. This is standard gold protection that many industry-leading VPNs use.
For the very privacy-cautious, VPNArea has unique security features like automatic IP changes that alter your identity every few minutes. Keep in mind that this VPN kill switch is by default turned to off, so for maximum privacy you should turn it on.
There are many entertainment options. You can watch Netflix and other popular streaming platforms. VPNArea supports P2P connections and offers exceptional speeds, too. You can try VPNArea and get your money back within 30 days of purchase.
For a deeper investigation of VPNArea, read our VPNArea review.
Our criteria for ranking the best VPN for UAE users
You’ll probably want to know what criteria we used to come up with our list. Using the following factors, we came up with a list of all-rounders with very few weaknesses:
1. Speed: Wide server networks, fast infrastructure, great streams, and lightning-fast P2P all matter.
2. Privacy: No logging, a location outside the Fourteen Eyes, and excellent DNS leak protection are all features we need.
3. Security: If the encryption isn’t cutting edge, the VPNs aren’t serious.
4. Flexibility: Multiple connections, protocols, and customizable clients all come together to widen user options, which we like a lot.
5. Price: The cost isn’t critical, but it surely matters. Only great value VPNs make the cut with us.
Are VPNs legal in UAE?
It’s completely legal to use a VPN in the UAE; you’re not breaking any law by purchasing or using them. What might be confusing is it’s illegal to use a VPN in UAE is that it is illegal to use a VPN with the intent to commit a crime.
Article 1 of Federal Law No. 12 of 2016 amending the Cyber Crimes Law states:
A punishment of temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than AED 500,000 and not more than AED 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties, shall be imposed on whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address by using a false address or a third-party address or by any other means to commit a crime or prevent its discovery.
As you can see, you’re in the clear when it comes to using a VPN in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
What websites are blocked in the UAE?
Unfortunately, for many people living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, many popular websites and services are off-limits. These sites include but are not limited to these categories:
- All Voice over IP apps (Skype, Zoom)
- Gambling websites
- LGBTQ content
- Pornographic websites
- And everything else that is anti-government, anti-Islamic or contradicts government doctrine in any shape or form
Even Wikipedia is restricted, although it doesn’t really fall into any of these categories. So, just look at them as a general indication. The actual amount of internet content that is blocked is actually even greater.
How to use a VPN in UAE?
Using a VPN in the country isn’t always going to be very easy. The government blocks several VPN websites, so tricky just getting the software is tricky. For those of us who are traveling to the country, the best option is to sign up and download and install their app before entering the country.
The actual process depends on each provider. However, your steps should look like this:
- Subscribe to a VPN provider that you’ve picked from our list.
- Download and install the software to your device
- Log in to the app using your credentials
- Connect to any server that is outside the UAE border
- Test if your IP address has changed.
If everything works and your IP is different, now you have unlocked unrestricted access to the internet.
Which free VPN is best in UAE?
A free VPN will always make compromises with the service it provides. Most often, the company behind it will get its revenue through ads; in more extreme cases, your private data could also be sold to third parties. Most times, when the service is free, the user is the product.
Free services usually come with restrictions when compared to premium VPNs. You can probably forget P2P; it’s also hard to say whether you’ll be able to unblock streaming platforms.
The point is, with a free service, there are no guarantees and usually no customer support. For this reason, we always recommend sticking to premium providers. Even the cheapest service will normally perform better than the best free service in terms of features and security. Most of them offer free trials, so don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself.
If you’re in the UAE, which of these VPNs have you used before? Did we miss any great VPNs for the UAE? Let us know in the comments below.
Julie is a firm believer in equal rights for everyone. She is a traveler and blogger, focusing her efforts on exposing censorship and discrimination around the world. She wants to hold corrupt governments and shady companies accountable by writing investigative articles and helpful guides.