Best VPNs For The UAE in 2021

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has some of the strictest internet censorship regulations and invasive surveillance in the world.

Written By: Kazi

With thousands of websites and apps blocked, and VPN usage laws in the country being shady at the best of times, we’re here to guide you through everything you need to know about staying safe online.

Top 5 VPN Picks Overview

  • Excellent speeds - no slow down experience
  • Zero latency – smooth gaming experience
  • Ease of use - set up in a couple of minutes
  • No-logs policy - Your data is 100% untraceable.
  • Impressive security – military grade encryption
ExpressVPN
$8.32/mo 30 Days Moneyback
Available on:
Speed Test:
107ms Avg.
45.09Mbps Avg.
9.29Mbps Avg.
Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 8 ms 58.56 Mbps 12.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 54.52 Mbps 11.85 Mbps
Manual connect US server 12 ms 53.22 Mbps 11.12 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 140 ms 42.85 Mbps 6.69 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 133 ms 37.64 Mbps 9.21 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 82 ms 40.41 Mbps 11.09 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 180 ms 38.42 Mbps 6.01 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 291 ms 35.11 Mbps 6.09 Mbps
VPN locations:
145 Servers in
VPN locations: 92 Countries
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Kenya
  • South Korea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macao
  • North Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Myanmar [Burma]
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

The fastest VPN in the world is our #1 best-rated VPN for its outstanding security, consistent speed and reliability

Visit ExpressVPN
  • Fast, stable, and encrypted connections
  • Multi-device security for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
  • Proxy extensions for web browsers Chrome and Firefox
  • Up to 6 simultaneously connected devices
NordVPN
$3.71/mo 30 Days Moneyback
Available on:
Speed Test:
163ms Avg.
42.71Mbps Avg.
9.23Mbps Avg.
Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 11 ms 56.23 Mbps 11.71 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 49.83 Mbps 10.75 Mbps
Manual connect US server 15 ms 46.73 Mbps 10.64 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 148 ms 45.79 Mbps 11.11 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 241 ms 32.01 Mbps 10.85 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 84 ms 49.99 Mbps 11.28 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 361 ms 23.14 Mbps 1.69 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 434 ms 37.97 Mbps 5.84 Mbps
VPN locations:
80 Servers in
VPN locations: 59 Countries
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • India
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Israel
  • Turkey
  • Australia
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Ireland
  • Czech Republic
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • Serbia
  • Austria
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Romania
  • Portugal
  • Luxembourg
  • Ukraine
  • Greece
  • Estonia
  • Iceland
  • Albania
  • Cyprus
  • Croatia
  • Moldova
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • North Macedonia

While NordVPN didn’t quite manage to make our number one spot, it’s an excellent VPN with a long list of security features and server locations that provide phenomenal value.

Visit NordVPN
  • No limits: you can connect as many devices to your account as you want
  • No logs: like many VPNs, Surfshark advertises a strict no-log policy
  • Security audit: its privacy and security features have been verified by third-party analysts
Surfshark
$2.49/mo 30 Days Moneyback
Available on:
Speed Test:
28.5ms Avg.
67Mbps Avg.
28.5Mbps Avg.
Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Quick connect UK server 34 ms 78 Mbps 23 Mbps
Quick connect US server 23 ms 56 Mbps 34 Mbps
VPN locations:
62 Servers in
VPN locations: 63 Countries
  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Moldova
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Paraguay
  • United States
  • Israel
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Australia
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Surfshark is a great VPN that offers a wide range of unique features. It is easy to use, and has an impressive array of over 3,200 servers in 65 countries.

Visit Surfshark
  • No device limit: unmetered usage and use of SugarSync allows you to use the service on any device
  • No-logs policy: the official IPVanish policy is to have zero usage logs, keeping your information totally safe
  • Excellent data transfer: no caps on data transfers,
IPVanish VPN
$8.33/mo 30 Days Moneyback
Available on:
Speed Test:
143.11ms Avg.
43.85Mbps Avg.
9.13Mbps Avg.
Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 0.9 ms 55.95 Mbps 12.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 11 ms 52.10 Mbps 10.99 Mbps
Manual connect US server 13 ms 44.96 Mbps 10.81 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 127 ms 44.92 Mbps 9.86 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 148 ms 46.22 Mbps 10.95 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 58 ms 46.22 Mbps 10.95 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 429 ms 31.29 Mbps Mbps
Quick connect AU server 358 ms 29.10 Mbps 7.24 Mbps
VPN locations:
1632 Servers in
VPN locations: 53 Countries
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Croatia
  • Luxembourg
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic
  • Switzerland
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Denmark
  • Moldova
  • Slovakia
  • Serbia
  • Ireland
  • Finland
  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Latvia
  • Ukraine
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Estonia
  • Belgium
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Israel
  • India
  • Taiwan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Singapore
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa

IPVanish is known for its versatility, making it a good choice for people who have some experience with VPNs as well as those who are rookies.

Visit IPVanish VPN
  • Generous connection limits: connect up to 30 devices under the same account
  • Simple installation: one-click instant set up
  • Highly robust: plenty of customizability for veteran users
VyprVPN
$1.66/mo 30 Days Moneyback
Available on:
Speed Test:
142.13ms Avg.
44.55Mbps Avg.
10.34Mbps Avg.
Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 9 ms 55.13 Mbps 12.21 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 53.43 Mbps 11.42 Mbps
Manual connect US server 13 ms 45.82 Mbps 10.79 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 128 ms 46.99 Mbps 10.28 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 150 ms 40.99 Mbps 10.21 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 58 ms 48.29 Mbps 11.21 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 419 ms 36.29 Mbps 8.98 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 350 ms 29.42 Mbps 7.65 Mbps
VPN locations:
73 Servers in
VPN locations: 64 Countries
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • United States
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Marshall Islands
  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • El Salvador
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Ukraine
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Macao
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Bahrain
  • Israel
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

VyperVPN has an impressive array of features. It is trusted by over 2 million users worldwide and is known for having decent speeds.

Visit VyprVPN

What Is a VPN and Why Do I Need One for The UAE?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have all sorts of uses, including protecting your online identity, bypassing censorship blocks, accessing streaming and torrenting services, and mitigating against cyber attacks. They work by offering a secure connection to the internet, usually by running your data through servers overseas. 

VPNs are becoming increasingly popular in the UAE, especially among the expat community that uses these types of services to access entertainment back home. In fact, out of a total population of 9.8 million, you’ll find more than 7.8 million expats. With significant numbers from the Indian subcontinent, Europe, The Philippines, and North America, there’s a vibrant market for VPNs, so these folks can access streaming services and independent news outlets back home.

Native Emiratis have plenty of cause to make use of VPNs too, as The UAE has some of the most authoritarian rules relating to internet censorship in the world. Crackdowns are imposed on anything that’s deemed immoral by the government, or is said to offend local religious beliefs. This includes online gambling, pornography, gaming sites, LGBT content, and some independent news outlets. 

This draconian censorship even extends to websites like Wikipedia and the occasional blocking of streaming services should content be found that’s offensive to the government. In addition, VoIP services like Skype and WhatsApp are now permanently banned.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the authorities have gotten wise to the population’s use of VPNs and are actively cracking down on their usage. VPNs are completely legal, but security services are employing more sophisticated geoblocks to prevent their use and we’re finding a lot of platforms no longer operate here.

This is why it’s essential to get your hands on a platform that works in the UAE. Luckily, we’re here to provide you with the best services to bypass those blocks and have you browsing safely.  

What Should You Look for in a VPN for The UAE

Above all, you should look for top-notch security features when you first start your search for a VPN. We’d actually recommend you do this whichever country you’re in, but it’s especially true when it comes to The UAE. 

We’ve noted above some of the censorship and restrictions you can face on your internet activities in the country, and it’s also worth knowing that the authorities regularly arrest the citizens it deems to have ‘instigated hatred against the state via Twitter’, and there have been a number of high profile arrests of expats that have breached strict morality codes, too.

These stories aren’t meant to keep you up at night but serve as cautionary tales as to the importance of protecting your online activities. The overwhelming majority of users will simply want to access blocked content, like streaming sites and news agencies, and you shouldn’t expect to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. 

The government employs a private company to carry out internet surveillance, and it’s currently not giving much away in terms of what gets monitored, so unless you’re familiar with Emirati law, you could be unknowingly breaching it. We always advise that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and the VPNs with the most robust protections will keep your identity hidden from the authorities should you make a mistake. 

This is especially important if you often connect to public WiFi, either for work or pleasure. You can never be 100% just who’s monitoring you, or even if the connection is a legitimate one.  

Now that we’ve covered the serious side of things, we can move onto some of the lighter aspects of using a VPN in the UAE. Many users are expats simply looking for a way to connect with TV, news, and entertainment back home. For this reason, you should look for a provider that has good server coverage in your home country. We’d like to stress again too that using a VPN is still completely legal, despite efforts to clamp down on them. 

Coupled with this, you’ll need a platform that doesn’t have speed or connection issues. The important thing to remember is that the further away the server is, the slower the connection could be. A lot of platforms these days have made great strides in connection tech, and some even own and operate in-house servers. Make sure the one you pick has top reviews for speed. 

Finally, you’ll need a service that actually works in the UAE. With the government redoubling its efforts to block VPNs year on year, you’ll need a premium service that’s able to stay one step ahead of the authorities. This usually means you’ll have to pay for one of the more premium options, but we feel it’s definitely worth it for peace of mind. 

Speed and Security Are Key Factors When Choosing a VPN for The UAE

 

Speed and security are such important aspects of using any VPN service in The UAE that it’s worth reiterating again. Protecting your online identity and activities is more important than ever before, and using a VPN platform really is the only way to use the internet effectively, whether you’re living, working, or traveling in the country. 

Which VPN Is the Fastest and Most Secure for The UAE?

Hands down, the prize goes to ExpressVPN. As one of the oldest vendors in the industry, it’s understandable that the company has amassed the necessary skills and expertise to not only effectively bypass The UAE government blocks, but to also be one of the few providers to never experience a data breach.

It follows the same gold-standard AES 256-Bit encryption method employed by the US military, alongside support for multiple protocols. You should think of a protocol like a tunnel that safely ferries your connection from your location to the destination server. Each one has different pros and cons, and ExpressVPN has even developed its own in-house protocol. It keeps the details firmly under wraps, meaning it’s difficult for governments to crack, and is one of the many reasons you’ll get a very consistent service in the UAE.

However, the government seems to be pushing back, applying pressure on the main internet service providers (ISPs) in the country. We’ve heard reports that the major supplier, Etisalat, has been causing issues. Watch this space to stay up to date on the next stages of the VPN wars. 

Importantly for users, ExpressVPN operates a no-logs policy. This means your browsing activities will never be recorded and can’t be traced back to you. The provider commissions annual security audits to back up these claims and these tech experts have yet to find any evidence of a breach. 

The service can’t be matched for speed, either. It has servers in nearby Israel and Egypt, leading to quick connections, and a large number of data centers spread across India and Europe to help expats stay linked to their homes. 

The service is by far the most reliable and efficient platform in the UAE today. That being said, it’s one of the more expensive options, but you can’t expect to get such a high-quality service without paying a little bit of a premium. However, in our opinion, it’s worth every penny for the security and peace of mind you get. 

What to Consider When Choosing a VPN for The UAE

You’ll Need a Service to Beat the Blocks

With the government waging a constant war on VPNs, and actively blocking as many as it can, you’ll need a provider that’s been proven to consistently beat the geoblocks. In fact, most lesser vendors won’t work at all in the country, so you’ll more than likely need to sign up for one of the big-name players in the industry. These companies have the resources and manpower to invest in the tech needed to bypass censors.

You’ll Need 100% Online Anonymity

It’s absolutely essential that you use a platform that’s guaranteed to protect your identity and anonymize your online activity. Remember, the UAE is a very conservative nation, and you can get into serious trouble for making the wrong comments online, particularly for being critical of the government or the Emirati Royal Family.

Our first piece of advice would be to watch what you say online, but having a VPN that collects no logs of your activities, deletes all personal data, and is based in a jurisdiction that doesn’t have a data-sharing agreement with the UAE will protect you in a worst-case scenario.

Of course, this is only the extreme side of things; the vast majority of users will simply be using this type of platform to access blocked services, but it always pays to take care.

Lots of Server Locations

With millions of expats working in the UAE, the most popular choices are those providers that have a large global server network, meaning users can access all of the entertainment types used at home. In fact, there are currently more Indians living in the UAE than native Emiratis, many there on long-term construction contracts. As such, platforms with fast, efficient server networks in India are among the most popular choices.

Use of Obfuscation Tools

For those not in the know, obfuscation is the act of obscuring your identity or online activities and is a popular phrase used in the VPN world. The best obfuscation programs hide the fact that you’re using a VPN at all. As the government gets wise to the servers and locations that various providers use, it becomes easier to block them. However, if the platform is able to mask where the server even is, this eliminates this problem. 

Choose the Best Provider for Streaming

It’s notoriously tricky to get around the various regional restrictions streaming services have implemented. You don’t want to sign up for a VPN only to find it has trouble unlocking these in the geographic zone you need. Check that your provider can unlock the regions in question; otherwise, you could be in for some long, boring nights. 

Extensive Review - Full Overview of Top 5 VPN Services for UAE

Written By: Kazi

1. ExpressVPN

We can’t extol the virtues of this service enough, to be honest. Not only is it the safest VPN to use in The UAE, but it’s also the platform with the most consistent performance. All banned sites can be accessed, and the service is able to unblock more than 100 TV streaming services in dozens of countries around the world. 

Users report no significant slowdown no matter where they’re connecting to, so can enjoy Netflix in the US, the BBC iPlayer in the UK, or simply log into your Facebook account and check the news feed to your heart’s content. 

The package comes bundled with some impressive security features in addition to the ones we’ve already highlighted earlier on in the article. The best ones include a kill switch that immediately cuts your connection should the VPN fail, DNS leak protection, and automatic obfuscation to bypass Emirati government geoblocks.

The good news is that all of these features will be set up automatically, and are available for a wide range of devices. Once downloaded, the platform will auto-detect the best settings so you can be up and running in minutes. Of course, there’s an option to make tweaks for those that want to optimize performance, but it’s good to know beginners are welcome here. 

The icing on the cake is a world-class customer support team. As a global company, ExpressVPN understands the importance of operating 24/7 and you can send any queries you have via live chat. What’s more, you’ll find dozens of handy guides, tutorials, and FAQs over on the website. 

Works with

ExpressVPN Key Features

Available On Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac, Kindle Fire, Chromebook, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Samsung TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Roku, Nvidia Shield, compatible routers, and more
Data logging Strict no-logging policy (fully verified)
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Number of servers Over 3000
Top download speed reached 106Mbps
VPN locations 160 in 94 countries
Maximum devices supported Up to five
24/7 live chat Yes
Plans One-month, six-month, and 12-month

The platform has been able to consistently prove its ability to bypass government blocks, connects in lightning-fast times, and has some of the best security features in the industry.

ExpressVPN Speed

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 8 ms 58.56 Mbps 12.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 54.52 Mbps 11.85 Mbps
Manual connect US server 12 ms 53.22 Mbps 11.12 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 140 ms 42.85 Mbps 6.69 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 133 ms 37.64 Mbps 9.21 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 82 ms 40.41 Mbps 11.09 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 180 ms 38.42 Mbps 6.01 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 291 ms 35.11 Mbps 6.09 Mbps

Not Good For… ExpressVPN is currently one of the most expensive offerings on the market. However, we feel that it’s definitely worth the money when you consider just how reliable the service is and the number of layers of security available.

A couple of other minor concerns include a trimmed down service for iOS users and a restriction to five connected devices at a time; although, this can be bypassed by using the provider’s router app when connected to your home WiFi

ExpressVPN Bottom Line 

There’s a whole lot to like with ExpressVPN, and the minor issues and price concerns don’t detract from the overall excellent service. With the ability to consistently bypass UAE censorship controls, we expect the provider to hold the top spot for the foreseeable future. 

Read ExpressVPN Full Review

2. NordVPN

Another well-known industry name, NordVPN, comes in as a close second to its main rival. It too uses obfuscation technology to fool the blockers, though it’s not quite up to the same standard as ExpressVPN 

Ther service excels at connection speeds and has well-placed servers right across the globe to ensure you never miss out on a high-quality location. This is a definite help for those that spend most of their time online streaming or torrenting. 

You’ll find a handy kill switch that will cut your connection if the service drops, which is particularly useful for torrenters, as they can leave their devices unattended for extended periods of time, and you certainly wouldn’t want nefarious groups snooping on your activities if the connection remained live. 

The provider is one of the best for unblocking VoIP services like Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp in the UAE with no lag or speed drops, making it a popular choice for those doing business in the region.

What really sets the service apart is that it actually has servers located in the UAE itself, so those wanting to access local entertainment and amenities can do so with the fastest connection speeds, safe in the knowledge that their browsing is completely anonymous.

Works with

NordVPN Key Features

Available On Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chromebook, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Vuze, Amazon Fire, Kindle Fire, Deluge, Raspberry Pi, compatible routers, and game consoles
Data logging Strict no-logging policy (fully verified)
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Number of servers Over 5,400
Top download speed reached 88Mbps
VPN locations Over 80 in 59 countries
Maximum devices supported Up to six
24/7 live chat Yes
Plans One-month, one-year, and two-year

Access added layers of protection using the provider’s Double VPN option at a price that’s hard to argue with.

NordVPN Speed

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 11 ms 56.23 Mbps 11.71 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 49.83 Mbps 10.75 Mbps
Manual connect US server 15 ms 46.73 Mbps 10.64 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 148 ms 45.79 Mbps 11.11 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 241 ms 32.01 Mbps 10.85 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 84 ms 49.99 Mbps 11.28 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 361 ms 23.14 Mbps 1.69 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 434 ms 37.97 Mbps 5.84 Mbps

Not Good For… It looks like the major ISP provider in the UAE, Etisalat, has managed to get around NordVPN’s obfuscation tech and it no longer works if you use this service. We’d recommend switching to DU as an alternative ISP to get around this. We’re sure NordVPN is already working on new ways to get past the blocks, though, so watch this space.

NordVPN Bottom Line 

NordVPN represents a more affordable option than ExpressVPN without sacrificing any security measures. It takes the number two spot as it’s been a little shaky recently when bypassing government blocks, but it’s still an excellent all-round service.

Read NordVPN Full Review

3. Surfshark VPN

Surfshark VPN hasn’t been in the market for very long, but in this short period, it‘s taken the VPN market by storm with its brilliant performance and 1700 servers in over 63 countries. To live up to consumer expectations, Surfshark also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and excellent 24/7 live chat support. A useful feature that makes it stand out from the rest is that it allows you to connect as many devices as you want at the same time.

Thanks to its Smart DNS, Surfshark successfully unlocked every streaming service that we tested, which is why this VPN gets our vote.

Surfshark is headquartered in the privacy-haven British Virgin Islands, so there’s no issue trusting its no-logging policy. Attention to security is top-notch and the extra privacy and security features on offer are a plus factor. These include double-hop VPN, and DNS-based ad blocking and malware protection.

Unblocks:

Surfshark VPN Key Features

Available On Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation, and more
Data logging No-logging policy
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Number of servers 3,200+
Top download speed reached 95Mbps
VPN locations 65 countries
Maximum devices supported Unlimited
24/7 live chat Yes
Plans One month, six months, and two-year subscriptions

Surfshark has slowly been growing in popularity among expat communities in the UAE for its unlimited connections and reliable security service.

Surfshark VPN Speed

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Quick connect UK server 34 ms 78 Mbps 23 Mbps
Quick connect US server 23 ms 56 Mbps 34 Mbps

Not Good For... Like NordVPN, the platform has issues bypassing geoblocks if you use Etisalat as your ISP. You’ll need to switch to DU as an alternative provider or wait to see if Surfshark is able to get around these blocks in the future. Still, it remains one of the few VPN providers to get past the UAE’s blocks at all, a feat in itself. 

Surfshark VPN Bottom Line 

Surfshark is fast becoming the go-to budget option for users across the globe, not just in the UAE. It still has some issues bypassing the toughest blocks put in place by certain ISPs, but it has more than enough features to make up for its shortcomings. 

Read Surfshark Full Review

4. IPVanish

IPVanish provides several different obfuscation options to choose from when it comes to masking your online presence, including the latest XOR and TCP over port 433.

 

While the provider has more than 1,500 servers, it doesn’t have any located in the UAE itself or across the Middle East. This isn’t too much of an issue, though, as there are plenty of locations across Europe and India, meaning expats are well served with choices and there’s little to no impact to speeds when connecting. 

 

The interface is a key selling point of the platform, with few differences between the apps used on the different platforms available. Features are easy to find and there are a number of interesting customization options for those familiar with VPNs. Alternatively, beginners can simply get going in just a few clicks.

 

There have been questions in the past about the company’s zero-logs policy, but these have thankfully been put to bed following a takeover of the organization in 2016. We’re expecting external security audits to back up these claims in the near future. In the meantime, you can rest assured the IPVanish servers are safe from brute force attacks with AES 256-Bit encryption.

 

As an added layer of protection, you’ll be able to access a special proxy server known as SOCKS5. This lets you hide your IP address and mask your personal information without having to download any third-party protocols. 

Works with

IPVanish  Key Features

Available On Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, Android, Amazon Fire Stick, Kodi, Chrome, Firefox, and selected routers
Data logging Strict no-logs policy
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Number of servers Over 1,500
Top download speed reached 87Mbps
VPN locations Over 150 in 75 countries
Unlimited Up to ten simultaneous connections
24/7 live chat Yes
Plans One-month, three-month, and one-year

One of the cheapest options available for those living in the UAE that comes with some impressive security features, like a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

IPVanish Speed

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 0.9 ms 55.95 Mbps 12.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 11 ms 52.10 Mbps 10.99 Mbps
Manual connect US server 13 ms 44.96 Mbps 10.81 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 127 ms 44.92 Mbps 9.86 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 148 ms 46.22 Mbps 10.95 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 58 ms 46.22 Mbps 10.95 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 429 ms 31.29 Mbps Mbps
Quick connect AU server 358 ms 29.10 Mbps 7.24 Mbps

Not Good for… There have been recent reports that the authorities have blocked the provider’s website, so we’d recommend downloading the platform before you arrive if you’re in the country for business or travel. Those living in the UAE might just have to keep trying to access the URL to see if it gets unblocked any time soon. Not all of the reports are verified, and trial and error might get you through. Though once downloaded, users report no issue using the VPN itself. 

In addition, IPVanish doesn’t have the best customer support options at the moment. With no live chat option, it can take a number of days to get responses to queries. 

IPVanish Bottom Line 

IPVanish is an impressive, mid-priced VPN that remains a popular choice for users in The UAE. We’ll have to keep an eye on the developing situation concerning Emirati ISP Etisalat, as it seems to be successfully blocking not just this service, but others too. Hopefully, we’ll see a fightback from the industry soon, but it’s worth switching providers in the meantime. 

Read IPVanish VPN Full Review

5. VyprVPN

Headquartered in Switzerland, VyprVPN has an impressive range of global server choices and locations. It might not be known for having the fastest connection speeds, but the provider’s definitely earned its reputation for having some of the most reliable and stable connections in the industry. 

Not only this, the company is something of a veteran when it comes to evading geoblocks, having cut its teeth breaking through the Great Firewall of China, it has no problem bypassing everything the authorities in the UAE can throw at it. This has made it the go-to option for a lot of businesses based in the country given its effectiveness at unblocking VoIP services like Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp, helping to facilitate the remote working world we’re now living in.

The service has no problem unlocking the most popular streaming services, either, making it an often downloaded option for residents and expats alike. 

Security protections are very much on par with the competitors on this list, with top-notch encryption and no retention of identifying logs of any kind. These features have been independently verified by third-party security firms with no negative findings.  

Works with

VyprVPN Key Features

Available On Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux, video game consoles, Smart TVs, browser extensions, compatible routers, and more.
Data logging Strict no-logging policy
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Number of servers Over 700
Top download speed reached 78Mbps
VPN locations Over 70
Maximum devices supported Up to five simultaneous connections
24/7 live chat Yes
Plans one month, 12-month, and two-year plans

A platform that’s made great strides in beating the blocks imposed by Emirati authorities in recent years. Coupled with a growing number of server locations and security options and you’ve got yourself a nice little package here.

VyprVPN Speed

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed US 9 ms 55.13 Mbps 12.21 Mbps
Quick connect US server 10 ms 53.43 Mbps 11.42 Mbps
Manual connect US server 13 ms 45.82 Mbps 10.79 Mbps
Quick connect UK server 128 ms 46.99 Mbps 10.28 Mbps
Manual connect UK server 150 ms 40.99 Mbps 10.21 Mbps
Quick connect FR server 58 ms 48.29 Mbps 11.21 Mbps
Quick connect JP server 419 ms 36.29 Mbps 8.98 Mbps
Quick connect AU server 350 ms 29.42 Mbps 7.65 Mbps

Not Good For… We’ve mentioned that VyprVPN isn’t the fastest service out there, and you can see some significant slow-down on occasion. Usually, this can be fixed by trying a number of different servers for your connection and is more of an inconvenience than anything. In addition, the user interface isn’t quite as polished as its rivals, and to get the most out of the service might take a little work trying to find everything. 

VyprVPN Bottom Line 

VyprVPN does what it says on the tin and can reliably get you past the strict geoblocks of the UAE. It’s not the cheapest or fastest, but it scores points for consistency and the ability to unblock streaming sites. If you need to use a lot of VoIP services for work or to call home, then it might be the best option for you.

Read VyprVPN Full Review

Additional Insights and FAQ

Are VPNs Legal in The UAE?

The short answer is yes, VPNs are completely legal to download and use in the UAE. However, this comes with quite a few caveats. The authorities heavily censor a lot of online content, and anything the government finds critical or immoral is usually banned or blocked. As such, it actively attempts to block VPN usage, either by restricting access to a provider’s homepage or by employing sophisticated geoblocks to stop them from working.

Will VPNs be Banned in the Future in the UAE?

Given the high proportion of expat workers in the country, and the subsequent popularity of VPNs to access content back home, it’s very unlikely the government will come out with an outright ban. As mentioned above, though, the authorities will certainly make things as difficult as possible for the industry.

Popular VPNs That Don’t Work in The UAE

Beating the blocks and getting around the censors is the preserve of a select few platforms here. Most are blocked, and even several on this list are now having trouble with popular Emirati ISP Etisalat. In fact, it’s difficult to give a comprehensive list of ones that aren’t currently working as the list is in constant flux. Our advice is to stick to one of the options listed above and check in with us regularly for news

Is Etisalat the Only ISP in The UAE?

Thankfully, no. While it’s true that Etisalat has some of the toughest blocks in the business, there are alternate providers that haven’t yet defeated the VPNs. A popular alternative is DU, which at the time of writing, every VPN on this list was able to bypass controls for.

Can I Access Local Content Securely in The UAE?

If you want to check out local Emirati sites for news and entertainment, it’s difficult to do so without being monitored by the government. To do this using a VPN you’ll need a provider that has servers located in the country itself, and the list is unfortunately quite small. In fact, the only provider on our list with in-country servers is NordVPN.

Can You Trust Your VPN Service?

Yes, you can. Data and information security are absolutely vital for every VPN provider. The top names on this list have spent years cementing a reputation for protecting customers. It’s a common practice for providers to commission external security consultants to prove the bold security claims being made. This will give you peace of mind that your personal information and browsing activities will remain anonymous.

Can You Use Free VPNs in the UAE?

Yes, there are a couple of free VPNs that work in The UAE, but we’d highly advise against it. Your personal safety and online protection should be paramount considerations when signing up for a service, and free versions often have sketchy security practices at best.

A lot of free providers pay the bills by tracking your online activities and selling the information to the highest bidder, including government authorities. Stick with those with spotless reputations.

Is It Expensive to Use a VPN in the UAE?

Not necessarily. While there are certainly some premium options to choose from, most platforms aren’t going to break the bank. A VPN is now an essential tool for living, traveling, and doing business in the UAE and is most definitely worth the investment.

Will a VPN Prevent Bandwidth Throttling?

ISPs in The UAE are known for applying bandwidth throttling techniques. This is the practice of reducing your bandwidth during periods of high usage in order to stop strain on the network. Since VPNs bypass any monitoring tools used by the internet provider, it puts a stop to all throttling practices, giving you a faster service all-round.

Summary 

We can’t stress enough just how important it is to stay safe online. We’re seeing increasingly sophisticated monitoring and surveillance tools being employed by the Emirati authorities, alongside a number of successful attempts to block VPNs in recent years. If you don’t have your hands on the right tech to counteract these measures, then you’re exposing yourself to an unnecessary level of risk online. Add to this the fact that cyber-attacks are on the rise, and it just makes sense that you’d want to take every step you could to protect your data.

It’s not just governments and shady organizations that want your data, either, major international corporations are always trying to get your information in an attempt to expand customer bases in a world of stiff competition. 

The vast majority of us are law-abiding internet users that just want a bit of peace from the constant tracking and surveillance, or to simply enjoy a little light streaming entertainment now and again. High-quality VPNs are the only way to ensure no-one will intercept your data or monitor your activities, and they’re becoming increasingly popular. 

As for using one in the UAE, we hope we’ve put your mind at ease. As the law currently stands you should never get in trouble for downloading and using a VPN, even if the government isn’t exactly a fan of the industry. As long as you’re not using a service to conduct your own illegal activities, you should be fine.

Just make sure to regularly check in that the platform you use is still viable in he UAE. In the neverending war between the authorities and the VPN industry, the number of blocked sites is in a state of constant flux, with both sides alternately gaining the upper hand it seems.