Hide.me released a blog post on Wednesday 7 August announcing it had expanded its VPN server network with the introduction of new servers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. These servers have been optimized by Hide.me for accessing VoIP services and streaming Middle Eastern content from outside of the UAE.
These new servers support all of Hide.me’s available VPN connection protocols and permit P2P activity. They are currently only available to paid users, so users of the free version of the VPN service will need to upgrade if they wish to connect.
The UAE has some of the strictest online censorship laws in the world, particularly when it comes to VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook. It’s for this reason that so many citizens turn to VPN services to contact their friends and loved ones.
The problem is, however, that the UAE banned the majority of VPN services in 2012 during the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, and now only permits government-approved (and heavily restricted) VPN services. This is mainly for political reasons but there are also economic elements, as it aims to push local residents to pay the expensive subscription fee for local telecoms services.
If someone uses an unauthorized VPN service to commit a crime in the UAE, they could face a fine of up to AED 500,000 ($136,000) or even a prison sentence. Hide.me believes, however, that everybody should have access to the unrestricted internet, which is the reason for the server expansion to cater to users based in the Middle East.
Hide.me reassures users in its blog post that security remains its top priority, therefore all of the new VPN servers in Dubai are optimized to provide ‘complete anonymity…so they can easily make calls to their loved ones via VoIP without being caught.’
Hide.me has also acknowledged the legal implications of using a VPN service in the UAE, but believes that there’s nothing illegal about using a VPN to make calls using VoIP services. It does, however, remind its UAE-based users that they should avoid any illegal activities in order to promote the “healthy and legal use of VPN.”
Hide.me goes on to say that adding new VPN server locations is an ongoing process, and therefore new countries will continue to be added to the server network. Users can contact Hide.me via its 24/7 live chat feature or send them a message via Facebook or Twitter.