Almost everyone living in or visiting the United Arab Emirates will benefit from using a UAE VPN. From evading blocks imposed by Etisalat and Du that restrict free VoIP to accessing blocked websites and even overseas streaming content, the best VPN services are essential tools that are totally legal and hugely useful.
Probably the most popular reason for using a VPN in UAE is to access free VoIP services like WhatsApp and FaceTime which are banned by networks that force users to pay for expensive alternatives. Signing up to a UAE VPN for Dubai is often cheaper than paying for the VoIP service your network offers – plus you can access more shows on Netflix too.
Anyone heading to Dubai or Abu Dhabi for work or a holiday will also benefit from using a UAE VPN – you’ll need it to access social media, and any streaming or sports subscriptions you pay for back at home. So, a UAE VPN is pretty much essential for anyone who steps foot inside the country.
Note: For travellers, we strongly recommend installing a VPN before you leave home, as this will ensure you’ll be able to set up and use the service properly.
What makes the best UAE VPN?
Seeing as the uses for VPNs are incredibly varied, the best VPN in UAE should be able to do it all. For users looking to access VoIP services and avoid network restrictions, obfuscated servers that mask VPN usage will be essential. This is because if you’re detected using a VPN, you still won’t get access to the apps or sites you want.
Restriction of certain sites can vary frequently, so you’ll need a VPN with a track record of being reliable in the UAE. Having quality 24/7 customer support will also help massively if you do have any issues.
Excellent privacy is also a top priority. Because the government takes a strong stance against VPN usage, you’ll want to stay anonymous so that you can’t be personally identified by anyone who’s looking. Quality encryption, zero-logging policies and a choice of protocols are signs of VPNs that take privacy seriously.
At the top of our list is ExpressVPN. Widely regarded as the best UAE VPN for Dubai and the rest of the country, its stealthy servers, great speeds and excellent support mean it’s a reliable way of accessing restricted content. However, there are a number of other options, so scroll on to find out which UAE VPN is best for you.
The five best UAE VPNs you can get today
If you’re looking for the best UAE VPN that can do it all, ExpressVPN is our first pick. With excellent speeds on servers worldwide, and the power to avoid VPN-blocking tech employed by the UAE network providers, it’s an easy choice.
Express also provides excellent privacy, with AES-256 encryption, a selection of protocols to choose from, plus IPv6 leak protection and a kill switch. However, just keeping the apps on their automatic settings will provide the perfect combination of speed and security.
Alongside great privacy, Express is also great for unblocking geo-restricted streaming services – you’ll be able to browse global Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, and access live sporting events from around the world. All you need to do is select a server in a country of your choice, and you’ll be able to stream it as if you were there in person.
A UAE VPN also needs great support as restrictions seem to be constantly changing, and Express has perfected it. You’ll be able to talk to a real person 24/7 – they usually reply in a matter of seconds – and ask them any question you want about the service. If your connection isn’t working you should be able to get help, and Express also has a dedicated UAE page on its support site.
What sets ExpressVPN apart, though, is how it combines these premium features and presents it all in a genuinely simple and easy-to-use package. The apps are totally plug and play, and even newbies can get protected in seconds – plus a 30-day money-back guarantee means you can test the service for free to make sure it works.
If we had to find a fault, it’d be that Express only has five simultaneous connections – meaning you’ll only be able to use the VPN on five devices at a time. However, that should be more than enough for most people, and it’s a sacrifice we’d be willing to make to get the very best UAE VPN on the market.
There’s a reason why our NordVPN review ranked the service so highly, and just one of the big name’s strengths is its power as a UAE VPN.
Nord’s security-focused approach pays dividends when it comes to staying safe in Dubai and the UAE, and its excellent encryption ensures your browsing stays truly private. Alongside that are options like DNS leak protection, two kill switches and Onion over VPN, which all combine to create a seriously solid security solution.
It’s not all work and no play with Nord, though, as it has great streaming power. You’ll be able to unblock Netflix, iPlayer and more, plus other sites restricted by Etisalat and Du.
Great connection speeds mean that you won’t be waiting around, and apps for pretty much every device allows you to stay protected wherever you are.
However, one of the few downsides is the design of the mobile apps. They retain the map-based interface from the desktop clients, but on smaller screens this doesn’t work quite as well. This is a small issue, though, and one unlikely to cause any real problems.
Although not quite as well-rounded as ExpressVPN, NordVPN provides an excellent UAE VPN service that we highly recommend.
For many, Surfshark could provide the perfect UAE VPN experience – it’s cheap, simple, and gets the job done. While you won’t have all the in-depth features of Express or Nord, you’ll still have good security and great speeds to browse day-to-day – read our Surfshark review for more.
Surfshark isn’t weak by any means, and with AES-256 encryption, Double Hop and split tunnelling it actually offers a number of privacy features you wouldn’t expect at this price-point – great for staying anonymous if you want to browse restricted sites.
For those looking to stream, Surfshark’s also got you covered, and you’ll be able to access Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and more. In fact, Surfshark’s a better streaming VPN than many more expensive rivals.
Rounded off with simple, attractive apps, that’s pretty much all you need to know about Surfshark – it’s fully-featured, great for streaming and will keep you secure online. It might not be a super-configurable powerhouse, but many users don’t need that. And, for less than $2.50 a month, we’re not complaining.
ProtonVPN has improved a ton since our last ProtonVPN review, and now the Swiss privacy experts are contending with the best in the business.
A good UAE VPN should have its users’ privacy at its heart, and that’s exactly what ProtonVPN does. With open-source apps, a verified zero-logging policy and powerful features like its rock-solid Secure Core servers and Tor over VPN, whatever you need to do, Proton does its best to keep you anonymous.
What’s more, ProtonVPN is actually one of the few VPNs to have servers within the UAE. The company recommends connecting to these servers with the Secure Core feature (first routing you through a super secure server before connecting to the less secure UAE server), and that means that you can do all your day-to-day browsing in private with your VPN connected.
One downside is the fact that Proton’s live chat isn’t 24/7, meaning that you may have to wait around if something goes wrong. However, that’s a small complaint – and if having the most private VPN is your prime objective, ProtonVPN will be perfect.
While it’s a smaller provider, in our VyprVPN review we found that it worked very well in a number of different situations – and one of them is as a UAE VPN.
Like all the VPNs on this page but very few others, VyprVPN clearly states its ability to access restricted content. This commitment to help those in the UAE avoid censorship is a good sign, and means it should be diligent when maintaining the service. What’s more, Vypr is also a great China VPN, a country which similarly restricts its citizens’ internet access.
VyprVPN prioritises its users’ security, and has been verified as a zero-logging VPN – that means the service never collects any data that can identify users, which is important for personal privacy online. You’ll also get good connection speeds and VyprVPN is effective at unblocking pretty much every streaming service.
However, compared to the rest on this list, VyprVPN isn’t as modern and polished, and a recent price hike has taken it from one of the cheapest VPN services to one of the most expensive. Plus, connections speeds are weak.
However, if you find that other providers don’t do the job in the UAE, VyprVPN is definitely worth trying out.
UAE VPN FAQs
Are VPNs illegal in UAE?
No. Having a VPN is not illegal in UAE. Businesses rely on them too much for the government to ban them outright.
However, using a VPN to access restricted content is a grey area, and those using a VPN for the “purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery” risk a fine of up to AED2,000,000 – equivalent to over $500,000.
It is, however, fairly safe to say that the UAE is more concerned about preventing terrorism and large-scale crime than it is about individuals accessing restricted content – and we can’t find any evidence of anyone ever being prosecuted for that reason.
We do not condone using a VPN to break the law. We also believe in the freedom of information and the internet. If you choose to use a VPN, for whatever reason, it’s important to assess the risks to see if you think it’s worth it.
Why do you need a UAE VPN?
People use VPNs in UAE for a number of reasons.
Firstly, internet access is censored and restricted, and a VPN can allow the user to access this content.
Secondly – and probably the most common reason – is that Etisalat and Du hold a monopoly on the VoIP market, meaning free apps like Whatsapp and Messenger cannot be used to call people for free. A UAE VPN can allow individuals to use these free services for a much lower monthly cost compared to the state-sanctioned providers.
Thirdly, streaming. With a VPN you can access streaming media, including Netflix, live sports, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more. This is especially useful for expats as media from their home country is likely to be blocked. A VPN can virtually relocate them back home and give them access to this media.
What VPNs work in UAE?
Other than ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, Hotspot Shield and VyprVPN, not many. Thanks to the UAE’s tough restrictions on VPN usage, many VPN providers – including larger ones – have been effectively disabled. While they’re great in the rest of the world, in the UAE and Dubai they simply don’t work.
The five on this list mostly work thanks to obfuscated servers that can evade VPN detection. This basically means that anyone inspecting web traffic won’t be able to tell that a certain connection is using a VPN.
While some other providers may work, we believe these five offers citizens and travellers the best chance at accessing what they want to when in the UAE.
Can you get a free UAE VPN for Dubai?
If you want a free UAE VPN, you should take a look at our rundown of the best free VPN services. However, from this list of the best UAE VPNs, only Hotspot Shield offers a free service.
We’d highly recommend using a paid-for service in countries like the UAE that have strict censorship laws. This is because in most cases you’ll want to have your VPN switched on all of the time, and free services almost always come with data limits – Hotspot Shield is generous with 500MB a day, while TunnelBear provides a tiny 500MB a month.
Also, paid-for VPNs give you the widest selection or servers, and you can be absolutely sure that they’ll consistently unblock sites. While a no-fee VPN might not cost any money, it might not work properly and, at worst, leak your information and compromise your online privacy.
Finally, all the best Dubai VPNs on this list offer at least 30-day money-back guarantees, so even though you will have to pay to get access, you’ll be able to get your money back within 30 days if the service turns out not to be for you – no questions asked.