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Best VPN for UAE

By Callum Tennent | Updated October 21, 2019

Illustration of the flag of the UAE

United Arab Emirates (or UAE) internet is heavily censored, with the monarchy controlling all ISPs and all content that’s available to citizens online.

Whether you live in the UAE or are just visiting, you won’t be able to access a lot of political and religious content, adult content, or seemingly innocent websites and services like Wikipedia or Skype. 

Believe it or not, they’re all banned.

The solution is a good VPN, which will unblock all that content.

We’ve tested loads of VPNs and the ones we recommend below will unlock your favorite websites, as well as popular apps like Skype and WhatsApp.

Read on for the definitive list to the best VPN for UAE, as well as helpful answers to questions we repeatedly get asked. 

What Makes a Good VPN for the UAE?

  1. Has servers in nearby countries
  2. Useful security and encryption features
  3. Transparent, fair and privacy-focused logging policies
  4. High quality customer support
  5. Reliable and fast speeds
  6. Well designed, easy to use apps

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

Best VPN Services That Work in the UAE

1. ExpressVPN

Ranked #1 out of 74 VPNs for UAE

  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
  1. More local servers would be better
  2. Not strictly no logs
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Express is #1 VPN for UAE due to its consistency and reliability.

A lot of people worry about the effectiveness of a VPN when it comes to using one in the UAE.

You can rest easy if you use ExpressVPN — it’s the most reliable option for bypassing censorship.

This is a great choice for bypassing censorship all over the world. ExpressVPN dedicates a lot of time, resources and secrecy into ensuring online freedom is a priority. 

ExpressVPN is the one to beat for anti-censorship.

The drawback is its limiting local servers. There are options to connect to the relatively nearby Egypt and Israel but we’d like to see it compete with NordVPN and add more for even better performance.

There are also no servers within the UAE. If getting around censorship is your main objective you won’t be needing them, but if not then you may notice an impact on your internet speeds. 

Having said that, its average global speeds are great all round, so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. 

All the while, just as it enables the user to have more online freedom, it protects its users’ identities and personal information with top security.

ExpressVPN comes with the all-important kill switch and unbreakable encryption. The privacy policy is safe too, although not strictly no-logs like some other VPNs below.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. Astrill VPN

Ranked #2 out of 74 VPNs for UAE

  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
  1. Fairly expensive
  2. No refunds
  • Best Price

    $10.00/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    72Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    64 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Astrill doesn’t mess around: it’s one of the most secure and most advanced VPN options on the market.

Newcomers to VPNs might be put off by it’s fortress-like features (and its price), but seasoned users will love the array of advanced options and features – you definitely get what you pay for.

Astrill includes AES-256 encryption, the rare inclusion of the new WireGuard protocol, DNS, IPV6 and WebRTC leak protection, split tunneling, and ownership of its DNS servers.

It’s also got a very nice number of neighboring connection options: Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel.

Crucially, it’s a beast against censorship. This is a popular option for people in UAE, as well as countries like Iran and even China.

This is due to its Stealth protocol which provides an additional layer of obfuscation.

Astrill even includes ‘SuperCharged’ servers, which are there to bypass censorship and stay secure without skimping on speeds. 

It’s not as pretty as some of the other apps on this list, but you can excuse that for the quality of the results it delivers.

This extends to Astrill’s speeds too, which are very fast and reliable at a global level.

Astrill do log some data, though, and this is a bit of a let-down, but it’s not personally identifiable and can be deleted on request. 

Customer support could also be better. Theres no 24/7 live chat feature like you’ll find with ExpressVPN, but email support often comes good. Or you can consult the extensive Astrill Wiki.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Astrill VPN review.

3. VyprVPN

Ranked #3 out of 74 VPNs for UAE

  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
  1. Slower speeds compared to other top competitors
  2. Best features limited to ‘Premium’
  • Best Price

    $5/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    83Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    64 countries, 700+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

VyprVPN has a great choice of server locations within the UAE and neighbouring countries, including Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. 

Spoilt for choice in the region, this helps VyprVPN users avoid congestion and pick up maximum speeds.

That’s helpful, as VyprVPN falls behind on speeds when compared to ExpressVPN. 

It’s by no means slow, and is always reliable – it’s just not as quick as the top two on this list.

It’s strong on privacy and security too, with a very strict no logs policy. VyprVPN collects no information to potentially be seized by authorities. 

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

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. 

For a more in-depth look, read our full VyprVPN review.

4. PrivateVPN

Ranked #4 out of 74 VPNs for UAE

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

    $1.89/mo over 2 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    86Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN has a lot going for it as a VPN for UAE. 

One of its chief appeals is its price — this is a budget-friendly VPN that is also as easy to use as a VPN can be.

But its usability doesn’t come at the cost of effectiveness. This is a VPN with solid security and a no-logs privacy policy. We detected no leaks or compromises of any kind.

This means that when using PrivateVPN your internet is safe and, as the name suggests, private.

PrivateVPN used to have no servers in the UAE, but has recently launched its first. This is a good start, but a single server risks congestion.

The other nearest available servers are in Turkey and Israel — not all that close.

We picked up pretty impressive speeds with PrivateVPN anyway, with low latency across the board. 

Customer support is a let-down in comparison to the other VPNs on this list, so if you have problems with PrivateVPN, or you’re just looking for information, it’s unlikely to be resolved as quickly as its rivals. 

For a more in-depth look, read our full PrivateVPN review.

5. StrongVPN

Ranked #5 out of 74 VPNs for UAE

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

    $5.83/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    84Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    26 countries, 950+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

StrongVPN delivers on privacy and security and beats the censors.

For all these reasons, it deserves to be on our UAE list. 

Its proprietary ‘scramble’ tool provides an obfuscation technology that bypasses UAE censorship, usable on OpenVPN connections. 

Alongside that, StrongVPN has a strict no logs policy — not even collecting metadata.

It also owns its DNS servers, which is a huge plus for security. 

The catch with 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.

Nearby Israel is available on OpenVPN.

We wish there would be more servers to avoid server congestion (Israel is the only viable option for good speeds), but StrongVPN’s speeds are generally quick.

As long as you avoid PPTP, StrongVPN is very safe.

For a more in-depth look, read our full StrongVPN review.

Popular Questions

Do I Need a VPN in the UAE?

If you’re fine staying within the limited confines of censorship within the UAE, then no.

But for those who want total internet freedom, a VPN is an absolute necessity.

The UAE is a highly-censored country when it comes to the internet, ranked ‘Not Free’ by Freedom House.

Popular messaging services like Skype and WhatsApp are blocked or censored, along with gambling and dating sites and a sizable number of Wikipedia pages and YouTube videos. 

The censors are also extremely strict with regards to nudity.

A VPN gives you freedom on the web again.

The short answer is: yes, VPNs are legal in the UAE.

But it’s worth reading on for some important context. 

While there has been some controversy as to whether a VPN is legal either in theory or practice, UAE Federal Law No. 12 of 2016 amending the Cyber Crimes Law (link in Arabic) states that a VPN is legal to use right until it is employed to mask illegal activity.

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

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

That makes obvious sense: you should never partake in illegal activities. This is hardly unique to the UAE.

However, what is illegal in the UAE is quite different to what citizens in the West are used to, including pornography, online gambling, or even Skype. 

Using a VPN for these reasons is illegal.

Expressing certain political or religious opinions can also be enough to send users to jail

The punishment can also be harsher – the laws can be punishable by a huge fine.

In the case of the UAE, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws and be sure to stay safe. It’s worth checking out the US Department of State’s guide to the laws and customs of the UAE.

Which VPN Works in the UAE?

People in the UAE want to use Skype, WhatsApp and other banned services.

So they turn to VPNs to unblock the internet. 

But, you want to do it right, and securely. We get that. We also want to make the process of choosing the right VPN service as easy and reliable as possible. 

Some VPNs are more suited to the UAE than others. The above list of the best VPNs are all examples of services that work effectively in the UAE. 

We recommend you consult the list and choose from these: 

  • ExpressVPN
  • VyprVPN
  • NordVPN
  • Astrill VPN
  • Private VPN

If you’re not satisfied by this list, there are some other VPNs that will work in the UAE.

Keep an eye out for VPNs that are good at bypassing censorship (usually if they work in China, where VPN crackdown is most pervasive, they work anywhere in the world). 

But also take into account that you need a VPN that is either a minimal logs or strictly no logs. Remember that when you choose a VPN service, you are choosing to trust them to protect your information. 

Those are the two chief concerns when it comes to VPNs in the UAE, but it’s also worth taking into account things like speeds, ability to unlock streaming services, and ease-of-use. 

Avoid VPNs that don’t have good reputations, that are free to download and use, and remember that just because something calls itself a VPN it doesn’t mean that it does all that a VPN should.

VPNs that fit this criteria and are worthy of honorable mention include:

  • StrongVPN
  • Private Internet Access
  • VPNArea

Which VPNs Don’t Work in the UAE?

Unlike China, there are a fair few VPNs that work well in the UAE. 

But what if you already have a VPN and want to know if it works?

We’ve come along to put together a list of the VPNs that we know for sure don’t work in the UAE. If your VPN is on this list, you should consider getting another if you plan to travel to the UAE. 

NordVPN used to be on this list, but its servers in the UAE were blocked and no longer works. CyberGhost, for example, is a good all-round VPN but it doesn’t work in the UAE. They even warn specifically against its use in the UAE.

ProtonVPN is another highly-rated VPN that doesn’t work in the UAE, although we’ve come across at least one report from someone saying that it did work for them when using OpenVPN.

Other well-regarded VPNs that won’t work include:

  • Hotspot Shield
  • HideMyAss!                   

Should I Use a Free VPN in the UAE?

No

When it comes to the UAE, the myriad of free VPNs aren’t going to cut it. 

You need a premium VPN that does exactly what it says it will do: secure encryption of your data, a privacy-friendly logging policy, and additional obfuscation tools that hide the fact that you’re using a VPN.

Our tests indicate that only these obfuscation and security features will grant you access to otherwise censored content. 

Free VPNs just can’t match them: they’re either extremely limited in what they can do (deliberately so), or in the worst cases are used to extract information, sell it, or inject malware into your device. 

Our overall advice is to stay clear of free VPNs. Your privacy is too important to risk with these freebies, especially in a country like the UAE. 

If you can’t resist the temptation, then we recommend that you stay safe and consult our list of the best free VPNs

Which VPNs Have UAE IPs and Servers?

When using a VPN, you’re going to get a better performance if you’re connecting to an IP address that is physically closer to your actual location. 

A server is a point of connection available to you as a VPN user, and if you connect to a server, say, in the US from the UAE, your speeds are certainly going to be affected, simply because they’re so far away from each other (remember: your traffic has to travel all the way to the US and then back to you).

This results in poor internet speeds, and no one likes that. 

That’s why it’s always best to have a VPN with a great variety of available servers across the globe. The UAE, and the region around it, is oftentimes a poorly-served region when it comes to available VPN connections.

Map of the UAEIn our above list, we’ve highlighted the exceptional VPNs that have servers either available within or close to the UAE. 

NordVPN is the leader here, with twenty servers available within the state. That’s the most available on the market. 

But there are others too: VyprVPN has some in the UAE and in neighboring countries.

PrivateVPN also has one.

It’s usually not much of a problem if there are available servers in neighboring countries (especially if you’re connecting out to avoid censorship), but all of this is worth taking into account. 

Outside of our list, high-rated VPNs that have servers and IPs within the UAE include:

  • IPVanish 
  • CyberGhost
  • Private Internet Access
  • StrongVPN
  • Surfshark 
  • Ivacy
  • Mullvad

What Is the Best Free Trial VPN for UAE?

If you wisely don’t want to risk a free VPN, but still don’t want to jump right into a commitment, it’s worth considering a free trial.

Many reputable VPNs offer free trials to test the service. Many of these restrict what’s available but still provide a useful taster of what you can expect. 

From the list of VPNs that we recommend for use in the UAE, the ones that come with a free trial include:

  • VyprVPN
  • PrivateVPN
  • Astrill VPN

VyprVPN’s free trial is limited to three days. 

PrivateVPN’s free trial duration is slightly longer but is still limited to seven days. 

As is Astrill, but you don’t need to insert any payment details for it.

Some VPN services offer 30-day free trials, but none are on this list, unfortunately.

Outside of official free trials, there are ways to test the services on this list without spending a dime.

Many come with ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantees, which mean you can test the service within a timeframe and simply get your money back, if you want. 

NordVPN used to have a free trial, but sadly no more. Still, you can take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee. We wrote a guide on how you can do that quickly and easily.

ExpressVPN has a 30-day refund period too, but no free trial either. You can find out how to get ExpressVPN for free here.

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

Kind of like states in the US, each has their own distinct judicial authority.

A lot of people travel to Dubai in particular and want to know if a VPN is legal there specifically.

Dubai

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 outside of the overarching law in the UAE. It’s legal as long as you don’t use one to do something illegal. It’s quite simple, really.

But 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. 

But downloading copyrighted material, like music or movies, is illegal. 

This is the same in the UAE as it is anywhere else.

However, the UAE are particularly proactive in defending copyright holders. Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 amended by Law No. 32 of 2006 regarding Copyright & Related Rights strictly protects copyright holders.

In one example, an expat in Abu Dhabi was sentenced to jail for six months for creating torrents of movies and television shows.

Is HBO Now Available in the UAE?

HBO has brought you some of your favorite shows such as Game of Thrones, Westworld, True Detective and The Sopranos. 

HBO Now is the video on demand subscription service that allows you to access all the TV company’s content.

HBO Now Screenshot

But HBO Now isn’t available at all in the UAE. 

You can access this US-exclusive content in the UAE the same way you can with Netflix — with a VPN. 

With a VPN you can connect to a US IP address and the service believes you’re accessing it from a permissible location. 

If you want a VPN to access HBO Now in the UAE, we recommend the ever-reliable ExpressVPN.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that HBO Now is soon to be defunct and be replaced by HBO Max in Spring 2020.

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum is our site editor and a member of the IAPP and the EC-Council's Knowledge Review Committee. He oversees all our VPN testing, reviews, guides and advice. Read full bio