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 UAE Censorship: 40%
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. Privacy & 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 would never recommend a VPN that doesn’t protect you privacy.
4. Speed: 10%
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 the country.
5. Nearby Servers to the UAE: 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.