Internet Censorship in UAE

VPN for Dubai
VPN for Dubai

Despite Dubai being a very influential business metro, Internet censorship in UAE (United Arab Emirates) is very strict. We have discussed it before. Besides pornography and gambling sites, the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) also implements heavy restrictions on blogs that criticize their government and religion, and some Wikipedia pages. Skype is allowed, but the social network app Viber is blocked. But thanks to VPN (Virtual Private Network), you can now unblock restricted sites in UAE. But why use VPN instead of other methods?

But first, you have to understand that Etisalat and Du are two telecom companies in UAE. Contrary to what many people think, these two Internet service providers do not control the Internet. They are just following orders from the TRA. In January 2015, this UAE’s telecommunications watchdog released a document warning YouTube users not to publish video content that is against public morals and the principles of Islam. Therefore, people living or working in the UAE should follow the rules of their Internet censorship.

For VPN, it is not considered illegal in UAE. In fact, many business owners in Dubai use VPN to protect their sensitive information. Most of them allow their employees to access their company data at home or in a public Wi-Fi zone such as train stations, coffee shops and hotels. VPN is also more economical than the traditional WAN (Wide Area Network). And yes, VPN works on smartphones no matter what operating software you are using. But more importantly, VPN provides high level of security that others cannot offer.

With a VPN or other ways to unblock restricted sites, users are being provided with a new IP address to hide their identity and geo-location as well. But unlike their competitors, VPN traffic is highly encrypted (128-bit encryption) which means only authorized parties can read the information on it. The most used VPN encryptions are Point-to-point Protocol (PPP), Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP), and OpenVPN. In general, VPNs offer three major advantages: security, reliability and scalability. VPN is also very easy to set up.

However, choosing a VPN while you are in UAE is not that easy. Some VPN service providers were blocked by the TRA because they allegedly violated their rules. So before choosing one, make sure it does not keep logs. Check also if they can immediately provide a new VPN IP address in case the first one was blocked. Choose also the ones that can provide you excellent customer support, especially if you are paying them. But then, you should also know what you need so you won’t pay for the service that you will not use.

There are also free VPNs that you can try, but don’t expect them to be better than the paid ones. Common sense will tell you that a free service cannot beat the tough technology of UAE’s Internet police. And because they also need money to sustain their service, be ready to be bombarded with ridiculous ads while using free VPNs. With a premium VPN, your privacy is well-secured. You can also enjoy faster Internet connection.