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The Best VPNs for UAE in 2021

Illustration of the flag of the UAE
Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

The internet in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is heavily censored. ISPs and mobile carriers control what web content is available, and what’s not.

In Dubai or Abu Dhabi you can’t access most political, religious, gambling or adult web content. Popular websites like Wikipedia and VOIP services like Skype are also blocked.

The best UAE VPNs unblock restricted websites and access the free internet. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing over 68 VPNs to which ones work best in the UAE.

Based on security, speed and bypassing censorship, the five best VPNs for the UAE are:

  1. Astrill: Best overall VPN for the UAE. Read summary
  2. ExpressVPN: Fastest VPN for the UAE. Read summary
  3. PrivateVPN: Cheapest VPN for the UAE. Read summary
  4. VyprVPN: Best UAE VPN for nearby servers. Read summary
  5. StrongVPN: Very private VPN that works in UAE. Read summary

One in every 2.58 UAE residents have used a VPN at some point, but it’s crucial you use a safe and effective one. Most aren’t.

The VPNs we chose hide your IP address, encrypt your web traffic, and don’t log your web traffic. They also unblock services like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and more.

Our top VPN choices also come with obfuscation technology, to disguise VPN traffic as normal HTTP data transfers.

The Top 5 UAE VPNs: Performance Ratings

Here is how our 5 top-rated UAE VPNs perform in each of our key testing areas:

The 5 Best UAE VPNs in August 2021

  1. 1. Astrill VPN: The Top-Rated VPN for UAE

    The most consistent and reliable anti-censorship VPN in the UAE and around the world.

    Ranked #1 out of 68 VPNs for UAE
    Astrill mobile screenshots
     0% 
    No user reviews
    Visit Astrill

    Pros

    1. Stealth VPN protocol beats censors
    2. No leaks and plenty of security
    3. Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
    4. Servers in UAE
    5. Good amount of nearby servers
    6. Fast and reliable speeds
    Cons
    1. Fairly expensive
    2. No refunds

    Overall UAE Rating: 9.5/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following five subcategories. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 9.9
    • 9.9
    • 9.4
    • 8.7
    • 9.1

    Astrill is one of the most secure and most advanced VPN options on the market – and its specialty is bypassing censorship.

    Our tests show that Astrill works a staggering 100% of the time in China, which has by far the world’s strictest censorship system. It’s therefore not surprising that Astrill is also the best VPN to use in the UAE.

    Cheapest Price$10.00/mo over 12 Months See all plans
    Logging PolicySome User Logs
    Servers110
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionSeychelles (Privacy Haven)

    An ultra-secure VPN designed for advanced users

    Astrill isn’t a particularly beginner-friendly VPN, but advanced users will love its array of security features and encryption options.

    You have the choice between OpenVPN or Wireguard – the two safest and best VPN protocols. There’s also AES-256 encryption, split-tunneling, self-owned DNS servers, and DNS, IPV6 and WebRTC leak protection, too.

    You couldn’t ask for much more when it comes to VPN encryption and security, and our leak tests show that everything works well. We didn’t find a single leak, of any sort, when we put Astrill through our battery of security tests.

    Obfuscated servers in good UAE locations

    What makes Astrill better than all other VPNs at bypassing censorship is its obfuscation technology. It uses a proprietary ‘Stealth VPN’ protocol that disguises your traffic and effectively hides it from government firewalls.

    Astrill has VPN servers inside the UAE and a decent selection in neighbouring countries, including Isreal, Egypt and India.

    If you’re just trying to avoid government surveillance, then the UAE servers will do the trick. If you’re trying to unblock geo-restricted websites then you’ll need to connect outside of the UAE.

    Having a selection of nearby servers is good because it lets you bypass censorship, without compromising on speed too much.

    Costs an expensive $10.00 per month

    Astrill is easily the best VPN for UAE, but its cost is a significant drawback.

    You’ll need to pay at least $10.00 per month, and sign up for a 12 month contract to use the service. This is more than triple the price of some other VPNs on this list.

    The VPN’s logging policy is also not quite as privacy-friendly as we would like, and the customer support could be improved. That said, you simply won’t find a VPN that performs as well in the UAE as Astrill.

  2. 2. ExpressVPN: The Fastest VPN for UAE

    The #1 all-round VPN that works well in the UAE with very quick speeds.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,768 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    1. Top choice for anti-censorship
    2. Strong encryption and security
    3. Strong logging policy
    4. Fast global speeds
    5. User friendly interface, design and support
    Cons
    1. More local servers would be better
    2. Not strictly no logs

    Overall UAE Rating: 9.3/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following five subcategories. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 9
    • 9.5
    • 9.6
    • 9.2
    • 9

    ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN to use in the UAE. In fact, it’s an excellent VPN to use for anything. That’s why it’s currently our top-rated VPN in August 2021.

    It has all the tools for bypassing censorship, including strong encryption, functioning obfuscation, and nearby servers in Pakistan, Israel and Egypt. ExpressVPN is also the fastest VPN on this list, and is a great alternative to Astrill if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Servers3,000
    Data LeaksNo
    US NetflixYes
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)

    Effective & easy-to-use obfuscation

    Setting up a VPN to use obfuscation is often a complicated process, but not with ExpressVPN. To use the VPN’s obfuscated servers, simply select the ‘Smart Location’ feature and it’ll automatically use obfuscation whenever necessary.

    ExpressVPN’s obfuscation tools don’t work in the UAE as consistently as Astrill’s, but you’ll still be able to access restricted websites most of the time. For this reason, we consider ExpressVPN to be the best UAE VPN for beginners.

    It uses AES-256 encryption, either the trusted OpenVPN protocol or a proprietary Lightway protocol, and features a very reliable kill switch.

    No UAE servers but a good local selection

    Despite having a huge 3,000 servers in its network, ExpressVPN doesn’t currently have any VPN servers located in the UAE.

    It does, however, have servers in nearby Pakistan, Israel, Egypt and India. Given ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested, this means you’re still able to use the VPN in the UAE with very little speed loss.

    Minimal logging policy & 30-day refund offer

    ExpressVPN has a reasonably privacy-friendly logging policy. It does keep some user logs, but nothing that could be used to identify you or your activity.

    It’s also based in the privacy haven of the British Virgin Islands, free from the pressures of surveillance-heavy governments.

    At $6.67 per month, ExpressVPN is cheaper than Astrill but still more expensive than PrivateVPN or VyprVPN.

    That said, you can test out the service completely free of charge with its 7-day free trial or 30-day money-back guarantee offer.

  3. 3. PrivateVPN: The Best Value VPN for UAE

    An affordable VPN with a Stealth protocol that easily beats UAE censorship.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
     98% 
    (1,736 user reviews)
    Visit PrivateVPN

    Pros

    1. No logs VPN
    2. Excellent speeds
    3. Advanced privacy with Tor over VPN
    4. Server in the UAE
    Cons
    1. No advanced privacy settings on mobile
    2. Limited local servers

    Overall UAE Rating: 9.1/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following five subcategories. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 9.4
    • 9.3
    • 9.5
    • 8.9
    • 7.5

    PrivateVPN works impressively well in the UAE for a VPN that costs just $1.98 per month. In our tests, we were easily able to unblock restricted websites, with quick speeds and intuitive apps.

    PrivateVPN is also the best VPN option for a short vacation in the UAE. Unlike ExpressVPN and most other VPNs, its five-day free trial requires no payment details or personal information. Just download the app and you’re ready to go.

    Cheapest Price$1.98/mo over 24 months See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Servers200
    Data LeaksNo
    US NetflixYes
    JurisdictionSweden (14-Eyes Member)

    Excellent value for money

    PrivateVPN has a lot going for it as a VPN for UAE. Not only is it a very budget-friendly VPN, it’s also a great choice for privacy and security.

    The VPN’s logging policy is strictly zero-logs and, when we tested it, we found absolutely no data leaks. You can be sure your anonymity is protected when using PrivateVPN.

    There’s a stealth protocol called Stealth VPN which we’ve used reliably to beat censorship systems in China, Turkey and – importantly – the UAE.

    Recently added UAE server

    PrivateVPN has a disappointingly small server network overall of just 200 servers. However, it did recently add a UAE server location.

    There are also VPN servers in a limited number of nearby countries; namely, Israel and India. This is enough to get some fairly quick connection speeds from within the UAE, but we’d like to see PrivateVPN expand their server network in order to improve performance further.

    Great free trial offer for UAE vacations

    PrivateVPN’s five day free trial offer is the best VPN free trial we’ve seen. This is because it’s a more genuine free trial than most other VPNs offer.

    You just download the app and start using it. With other VPNs, you have to provide payment details and then remember to cancel your subscription, otherwise you end up paying for the service.

    Note that, if you’re someone who likes to contact customer support a lot, PrivateVPN might not be the best option for you. We’ve always found it to be a bit of a let-down, with support agents taking too long to respond.

  4. 4. VyprVPN: Best UAE VPN for Nearby Servers

    A safe VPN with servers in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    Screenshot of VyprVPN's Mobile App
     88% 
    (62 user reviews)
    Visit VyprVPN

    Pros

    1. Local servers in UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia
    2. Chameleon protocol to bypass censorship
    3. Strict zero-logs policy
    4. No security leaks
    5. Easy to use apps
    Cons
    1. Slower speeds compared to other top competitors
    2. Best features limited to ‘Premium’

    Overall UAE Rating: 8.7/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following five subcategories. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 8.8
    • 9.4
    • 9.9
    • 6.3
    • 9.2

    VyprVPN doesn’t work in the UAE as consistently as Astrill, ExpressVPN or PrivateVPN do. But it deserves its place on this list because of its exceptional commitment to privacy and its array of nearby servers.

    VyprVPN has servers in the UAE and three out of its four closest countries: Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. This means you have many options to choose from when bypassing censorship in the UAE.

    Cheapest Price$1.66/mo over 36 months See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Servers700+
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionSwitzerland

    Avoids server congestion with many nearby options

    Unlike ExpressVPN, VyprVPN actually has VPN servers inside the UAE itself. Connecting to these servers is the best way to get fast connection speeds.

    However, if you’re using a VPN to access websites and services that are blocked in the UAE, then you’ll need to connect outside the country.

    VyprVPN’s selection of servers in Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and India make it a great choice for this.

    Although the service’s speeds aren’t always the best, this large number of nearby server means you’ll be able to avoid server congestion issues.

    Strong Chameleon protocol

    One essential feature for UAE users when using VyprVPN is its Chameleon protocol. This is an exclusive feature to VyprVPN which is designed to beat censors – and it works well.

    This special feature is available on every VPN server, and VyprVPN even works in China, so you know it’ll be effective in the UAE. 

    You can test out the Chameleon protocol yourself with VyprVPN’s 3-day free trial.

    Very strict no-logs policy

    On top of this, VyprVPN has one of the strictest no-logs policy among VPN providers. It collects essentially no information about you when you use the service, making it about as safe as a VPN can be.

    If VyprVPN improved its speeds a little and got more consistent at bypassing censorship, it could soon be competing with Astrill for the #1 UAE VPN spot.

  5. 5. StrongVPN: A Private & Secure VPN for UAE

    A very private VPN that is good for bypassing censorship.

    StrongVPN mobile screenshots
     98% 
    (34 user reviews)
    Visit StrongVPN

    Pros

    1. Proprietary ‘scramble’ tool beats censors
    2. Good speeds
    3. Strict zero-logs policy
    4. Lots of security and privacy features
    Cons
    1. Limited local servers
    2. Jurisdiction within privacy-unfriendly US
    3. Many servers use PPTP protocol only

    Overall UAE Rating: 8.3/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following five subcategories. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 7
    • 9
    • 9.9
    • 8.9
    • 6.5

    StrongVPN is not quite at the level of Astrill and ExpressVPN, but it’s still a good VPN to use in the UAE. When we tested StrongVPN, it managed to beat the censors most of the time.

    That said, StrongVPN’s connection speeds need to improve and the VPN offers a lack of servers in nearby countries to the UAE.

    Cheapest Price$2.33/mo over 12 Months See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Servers950
    Data LeaksNo
    No
    JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)

    'Scramble' obfuscation tool works well in UAE

    StrongVPN delivers on privacy and security and beats the censors, most of the time.

    It uses a proprietary ‘Scramble’ tool that wraps your OpenVPN connection in a layer of obfuscation.

    This works to hide your traffic among regular HTTP traffic, and so keep your activity hidden from UAE’s censorship system.

    Zero-logs policy & self-owned DNS servers

    Alongside that, StrongVPN has a strict no logs policy. It doesn’t even collect any metadata.

    It owns its DNS servers, which is reasonably rare among VPN providers but is a huge plus for security.

    The main downsides to using StrongVPN is its over-reliance on PPTP servers. This is an outdated protocol, susceptible to hacking, that prioritises speed at the expense of security.

    Speed is always good, but in the case of the UAE, security at the expense of speed is better.

    Lack of nearby server locations

    Nearby Israel is available on an OpenVPN connection. And there are servers in the UAE itself and in India, too.

    However, we wish StrongVPN offered more servers in the area in order to avoid server congestion.

    The VPN’s speeds are generally quick, but it would only take one of these server locations being shutdown or a sharp increase in customer base for speeds to drop dramatically.

    Overall though, as long as you avoid PPTP servers, StrongVPN is a safe option to use UAE.

The Top 10 VPNs for UAE Compared

We regularly test over 68 VPN services and review how well they perform in a number of different areas.

Here is a table comparing our 10 top-rated UAE VPNs. You can see how they perform in areas of price, security features, and server network size:

Why Do You Need a VPN in the UAE?

If you live in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or are traveling to the country, you’ll need a VPN to use the internet with complete freedom.

The UAE is a highly-censored country. Many popular websites and services are blocked, including:

  • All Dating Apps
  • FaceTime
  • Skype
  • Snapchat
  • Wikipedia
  • WhatsApp

If you’re planning on using the internet frequently or making VOIP calls, then you’ll need a tool to bypass this censorship.

When you use a VPN, your real IP address is replaced with the IP address of a remote VPN server, in a location of your choosing.

Your web activity is also encrypted, which means local ISPs like Etisalat will no longer be able to see what you’re doing online. As a result, you’ll be able to unblock all those restricted websites and apps, including foreign streaming content.

Are VPNs Legal in UAE?

Only government-approved VPN services are legal in the UAE. This has been the case since 2012, when the government sought to limit the unsupervised use of VOIP services like Skype and WhatsApp.

Corporations are still allowed to use VPNs for business reasons, however.

The Federal Law No. 12 of 2016 (amending the Cyber Crimes Law) states that a VPN is legal to use in the UAE as long as it’s not used to mask illegal activity.

If a VPN is used to hide criminal activity, the user could face imprisonment or a financial penalty between AED 150,000 and AED 500,000 (around $136,000).

UAE Federal Law No. 12 of 2016 amending the Cyber Crimes Law

The UAE Cyber Crimes Law states that using a VPN is legal.

This isn’t unique to the UAE – using a VPN for illegal activity is illegal more or less everywhere.

However, what is illegal in the UAE includes pornography, online gambling, and even Skype. Expressing certain political or religious opinions can also be considered against the law.

For more on VPN legality, read our guide to VPN laws around the world.

How to Get The Fastest VPN Speeds in the UAE

When using a VPN to bypass censorship within the UAE, you’re going to get faster speeds if you connect to a VPN server that is physically closer to your location.

If you connect to a distant VPN server (e.g. in the US), your connection speeds will suffer, due to the distance between you and the VPN server.

Therefore, the fastest UAE VPNs will offer a good selection of servers in countries that are nearby to the UAE. For access to the free internet with the quickest speeds, you should connect to one of these servers.

Here’s an overview of where the best UAE VPNs have nearby servers:

How We Test VPNs for the UAE

Censorship in the UAE means residents and visitors don’t have full access to the free, global internet.

We’ve tested hundreds of VPNs to see which ones do the best job of restoring your internet freedom from within the UAE.

To find the best VPNs for the UAE, we look for:

  • Ability to reliably and consistently bypass UAE’s website blocks.
  • Strong encryption and obfuscation technologies.
  • Fast connection speeds from within the country.
  • VPN servers in the UAE and nearby countries.
  • No IPv4, IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.
  • A minimal logging policy.

We’ve split the analysis into five main subcategories. Each subcategory is differently weighted according to how important it is for UAE VPNs.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each subcategory:

1. Bypassing Censorship: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Access censored content in the UAE over 50% of the time.
We Recommend: Access censored content in the UAE over 80% of the time.

A large number of popular websites and services are blocked within the UAE. The primary to use a VPN in the country is to unblock these sites.

To measure a VPN’s ability to bypass censorship, we run tests to see if the VPN lets us access blocked content from within the UAE.

We run these tests multiple times, with different types of blocked content, to see how consistently the VPN is able to beat the censors.

2. Obfuscation Technology: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A form of obfuscation technology.
We Recommend: Multiple types of effective obfuscation.

Obfuscation technology, often in the form of ‘Stealth’ protocols, are crucial for a VPN to evade strict censorship regimes.

Obfuscation disguises your traffic by wrapping in a protective layer that hides it in amongst regular HTTPS traffic.

This makes it much harder for the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) tools – that censorship systems like the Great Firewall of China use to detect VPN users – to identify and block your connection.

We first check whether the VPN includes an obfuscation protocol and then we test the service using that protocol, to see how effectively it works.

3. Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Anonymised connection logs, at the very worst.
We Recommend: An independently verified, no-logs policy

There’s no point using a VPN that is collecting and storing information about you and your activity. This is especially true in authoritarian countries like the UAE.

We examine each VPN service’s privacy policy in detail to make sure they’re not logging any data they shouldn’t be.

We would never recommend a VPN that doesn’t protect you privacy.

4. Speed: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Average international download speeds above 40Mbps.
We Recommend: Average international download speeds above 60Mbps.

Connection speed can make or break a VPN service. All VPNs will reduce your speed to some degree, but some VPNs are so fast you won’t even notice it.

We conduct weekly manual speeds tests to see which VPNs have the fastest speeds around the world. We test both local, domestic connections and long-distance, international connections.

For a UAE VPN, international speeds are the most important because, more often than not, you’ll be using the VPN to connect outside of the country.

5. Nearby Servers: 10%

Minimum Requirement: VPN servers in at least two nearby countries.
We Recommend: VPN servers in the UAE and multiple nearby countries.

VPN server locations are important for speed, too. The further a VPN connection has to travel, the slower you speeds will be.

That’s why we inspect each VPN’s server network list to assess how good its selection of UAE-adjacent servers is. We check for servers in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, India and Turkey.

We also factor in whether the VPN offers servers within the UAE itself. These servers won’t help you bypass the geographic restrictions, but they will give you the fastest speeds and protect you from government surveillance.

UAE VPN FAQs

What Is the Best Free VPN for UAE?

We’ve tested over 100 free VPNs and found only one that works in the UAE: Windscribe Free.

Windscribe’s free VPN is an exceptional service for something that costs absolutely nothing. It’s quick, very secure, and the company has a privacy-friendly logging policy.

The only drawbacks are a 10GB monthly data cap and a limited server network. The closest server you can get to the UAE is in Romania, which means the connection speed can be quite slow.

To use Windscribe Free to bypass censorship in the UAE, make sure to select the WStunnel or Stealth VPN protocol in the settings menu.

Are VPNs Legal in Dubai?

The UAE is made up of seven emirates, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.

Similarly to states in the US, each of these emirates has their own distinct judicial authority.

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the UAE, and many travelers want to know if a VPN is legal there.

The legal system in Dubai is a mix of Sharia Law and Civil and Criminal Laws, implemented by the Federal Judiciary, comprising courts of first instance and Supreme Courts. 

But there’s nothing unique in Dubai’s attitude to VPNs compared to the rest of the UAE. In other words, it’s legal as long as you don’t use a VPN to do something illegal.

However, this means that you need to be aware of the local laws and customs, as things that are illegal in Dubai are perfectly legal in other places.

Ignorance of the laws and customs of Dubai, and the larger UAE, is not accepted as a valid excuse should you happen to break them.

Is Torrenting Illegal in the UAE?

Torrenting is simply a method of sharing files, so downloading torrents is not illegal.

However, downloading copyrighted material, like music or movies, is illegal. This is the same in the UAE as it is in many other countries.

The UAE is particularly proactive in defending copyright holders, too. Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 amended by Law No. 32 of 2006 on Copyright & Related Rights, strictly protects copyright holders.

In fact, UAE’s anti-piracy policies are some of the strictest in the world. So much so that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) ranked the UAE 20th best anti-piracy country in 2014.

In the past, copyright violators in the UAE have been subject to hefty fines and even jail time. On one occasion, an expat in Abu Dhabi was sentenced to six months in jail creating torrents of movies and TV shows.

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio