Many will be aware the internet traffic in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai is heavily monitored and regimentally censored. Residents, expats, and travellers will want a VPN service in order to retain their privacy, access otherwise restricted content, and keep in touch with friends and family. That's why we're here to explain the best VPN for UAE and Dubai options available to you.
As well as censoring online content, the government and its internet provides, Etisalat and Du, prevent the use of VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services, such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype. This means you'll be unable to keep in touch with loved ones for free.
With a UAE VPN, though, the virtual private network can make you appear as though you're in a different location, reinstating your access to such services and other blocked content. It'll also boost your online anonymity, and prevent you from being tracked.
Of course, it's worth noting you should install your VPN before you arrive in the UAE or Dubai as it can be difficult to download one behind the blocks when they're within the border. Keep reading as we narrow down the best VPN for UAE and Dubai with our top five choices.
Today's top 3 best UAE/Dubai VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - the #1 best UAE/Dubai VPN
Thanks to its solid security suite, top global speeds and knack of unblocking geo-restricted apps and sites, ExpressVPN tops our list of UAE VPNs - and, indeed, the best overall services. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money back guarantee and get 3 months extra free with an annual plan.
2. NordVPN - a great choice for the security cautious
Double VPN; Onion over VPN; Obfuscated servers; independently audited no-logging policy from PricewaterhouseCooper... NordVPN clearly means business when it comes to keeping your web traffic encrypted and your identity anonymous.
3. Surfshark - the VPN to go for to save money
We should say first of all that Surfshark is an excellent, friendly-to-use VPN in its own right. But probably its biggest draw is the fantastic pricing on offer. Sign up for an annual plan and you'll be spending less than $2.50 USD per month - none of the other main players can match that.
The best UAE/Dubai VPN in 2021 is:
Best UAE and Dubai VPN 2021 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
The best all round virtual private network is ExpressVPN, and that includes for the UAE and Dubai. This VPN will work its magic in the UAE by giving you access to its wide range of international servers for great online speed and unblocking those restricted services.
Anonymity and security are big positives with ExpressVPN as it boasts enterprise grade AES-256 encryption, lots of protocols to choose from (including its very own, speedier Lightway model), a kill switch on most platforms plus IPv6 leak protection. Not only will this do the job of keeping your web activity hidden but it'll also help you unblock geo-restricted content, allowing you to watch BBC iPlayer or US Netflix while in Dubai, for example.
The real big pull for us has to be the excellent tried and tested 24/7 live chat support. All that good stuff above is fine but largely useless if you can't get it working. So having someone waiting to help you with your exact issue is a really important feature that ensures you get your money's worth out of this VPN.
Still got doubts? Take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and you can effectively try before you really buy. The only real downside is a limit to five simultaneous connections at once - some providers allow use on one subscription for unlimited devices these days. But even that should be plenty for most users.
Get the best UAE and Dubai VPN 2020 with 3 months FREE
As you can probably tell, we really rate ExpressVPN when it comes to staying safer in distant climes. And the good news is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra free when you sign up - fantastic value for a brilliant UAE and Dubai VPN.
NordVPN is one of the best known VPN names and it's got that fame thanks to some excellent performance. That means a focus on security with things like double kill switches and 2048-bit encryption but also on speed with over 5,000 servers dotted about the globe. All this, of course, can be accessed from the UAE with great reliability.
Some of those many servers are actually in the UAE meaning you can get the best possible speeds by keeping your connection local. A great feature if you live locally and want to keep search results locally focused. And Nord says that those UAE-based locations host 'obfuscated servers' that are specifically configured to bypass network firewalls in countries with the toughest restrictions.
Despite restriction efforts by Etisalat and Du you'll still be able to enjoy the likes of US Netflix and BBC iPlayer while in Dubai. Yep, NordVPN is also among the planet's very best streaming VPN providers.
While the map based interface on smaller screens isn't ideal, this remains one of the best UAE and Dubai VPN options you can get.
You may be drawn to Surfshark because of the price. But you'll stay using it because of the impressive feature list, easy-to-use apps, and performance that punches well above the affordability of this VPN service. Despite being a budget option, Surfshark is still one of our favorite overall services.
Don't expect to have as many features as Express but you can demand excellent performance from a simple-to-use VPN. You still get an AES-256 encryption with double-hop for security but also split tunnelling for easy access to areas outside the VPN too. From Netflix and Hulu to iPlayer and Peacock, this will unblock them and it'll do so while giving you great speeds, too.
Get some of the lowest VPN prices out there without sacrificing the basics on this impressive VPN that works wonders in the UAE and Dubai.
Hotspot Shield is a great UAE and Dubai VPN option - especially if you want to try it for free. Yup, this comes with an impressive free version to see what Hotspot and VPNs are all about, although this will limit you on data and mean that you can only use a single US-server. We recommend giving the full VPN a try as you can do that with a best-in-class 45-day money-back guarantee – ideal for a trip to the UAE.
Hotspot Shield uses its own proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol for some of the fastest speeds on any VPN. This will get you online in the UAE but be warned that it almost means you won't be able to use it on the sheer amount of devices that you can with the competition - think Smart TVs, routers and games consoles. Of course, it still has apps for laptops, desktops, mobiles and some streaming gadgets (it's an excellent Amazon Fire TV Stick VPN) and on the whole they're a delight to use.
Not terrible issues then, and when you consider the speed which makes it stand-out from the rest, this is well worth a try.
CyberGhost offers some of the most servers of the top VPNs out there at over 6,000 spread across 60 countries, and generally does so at speeds that mean you won;t notice at thing when it's running in the background.
It has a strong track record at unblocking geo-restricted apps and sites, while also having specific Dubai VPN servers. It comes complete with advert and malicious site blocking, automated HTTPS redirection and optional data compression to save you money on the move.
We enjoy the feature that lets this VPN automatically find the best servers to suit streaming for the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu and more. The interface is one of the more complex out there. That is thanks to a wealth of personalization options which make this great for anyone that knows their way around a VPN. That said it's easy enough for newbs to enjoy too.
VPN for UAE and Dubai FAQ
What makes a good VPN for UAE and Dubai?
When it comes to the UAE and Dubai your most important feature in a VPN is its ability to get around the blocking from the government and networks like Etisalat and Du. Since there are specific blocks on the likes of WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and Google Meet, a VPN can more than earn its cost when you're over there.
Speed and geo-restriction blocking are also important factors. Once online you'll want to actually be able to enjoy streaming shows or have Skype chats without talking to a mess of jumpy pixels.
The 24/7 live chat support - offered by ExpressVPN and others on the above list - is also invaluable as it'll mean you can rest easy knowing even if you run into problems, there is a professional that's probably dealt with them before ready to help.
Is a VPN illegal in the UAE?
Due to how heavily the UAE relies on the use of VPN in businesses, the government have not outright banned them. The use of a VPN, therefore, is not illegal.
That said, like in just about any country where a VPN is legal, that doesn't automatically give you a safety net if you're found to be committing crimes behind a VPN. It has been stated those using a VPN for the "purpose of committing a crime or prevent its discovery" could face a fine of up to AED2,000,000. That's about $500,000.
It goes without saying we do not condone breaking the law and it is at the users discretion to determine the risk of using a VPN.
Why should you download a UAE VPN?
As outlined, there are a number of reasons having a VPN for UAE and Dubai is a good idea. With the ability to bypass internet censorshop and access content, you can also use the usual messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and so on and work around Etisalat and Du's monopoly of the VoIP market.
Of course, as is popular perk of a VPN, you can stream even more, including live sporting events, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more when outside of the country. Great for travellers and expats especially, this allows you to access broadcasts from your home country by virtually relocating with the help of a streaming VPN.