5 Best VPNs for UAE & Dubai in 2021 that work to avoid detection


Finding a VPN that works in the UAE is getting more and more difficult. In this guide, we make some VPN recommendations, but some come with caveats, so read closely.

What are the best VPNs to use in UAE?

These are the best VPN services that still work in the UAE.

  1. IPVanish - A strong and stealthy VPN for the UAE. It works great with Skype and other VoIP services & has a kill-switch as well as DNS leak protection.
  2. NordVPN - A good well-rounded VPN for the UAE. It's secure, fast and is known to unblock content for most ISPs, but is inconsistent with Etisalat.
  3. ExpressVPN - A slightly pricey option, but one of the best VPNs for UAE. Has excellent privacy and unblocking capabilities.
  4. PrivateVPN - The cheapest VPN for the UAE. From $1.89 a month you get a secure & private VPN that's great for unblocking.
  5. Surfshark - A well rounded VPN for customers of DU, offering decent speeds & security. Be aware though that it doesn't work with Etisalat.

Try ExpressVPN our #1 VPN pick for the UAE

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Etisalat customers – Please be aware

We are currently receiving reports that Etisalat customers are experiencing issues when using VPNs. Please be aware that we are working with VPN providers on behalf of these customers to find a solution. Click here for updates.

The government actively restricts VPN access in the UAE to prevent people from using VoIP services. UAE ISP, Etisalat, is using advanced methods to block VPNs and, as a result, few VPNs still function in UAE. Fellow UAE ISP DU also attempts to block VPN usage (but is much less successful). Because of UAE VPN blocks, it is imperative that you pick a VPN provider that is actively working to bypass the blocks.

In this article, we've pinpointed the VPNs that still work in the UAE and have detailed which ISPs they currently work with.

Before recommending a VPN for the UAE, we have UAE residents testing the services in the country to ensure that they are still working. We also check for the following features to ensure it is safe to use there:

Only VPNs that can offer everything listed above are eligible for our best VPNs for the UAE list. Let's take a look at which services made the grade.

Please note: If you are an Etisalat customer, click here.

The Best VPNs for the UAE in 2021

These are the best VPNs to use in the UAE & Dubai currently:

IPVanish is a recommended VPN for UAE because it has strong obfuscation options. It also comes fully loaded with other useful features for the UAE, such as a kill-switch.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.62 - $9.99
  • Speeds

    • 25.31 Mbps
  • Kill switch?

    • Yes
  • Stealth mode?

    • Yes

IPVanish provides XOR obfuscation and TCP over port 443 so you have options when it comes to concealing your VPN connection from your ISP and the government! IPVanish also has a zero-logs policy, provides strong OpenVPN encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill-switch. It also has a SOCKS5 proxy which comes in handy for bypassing blocks when you need fast speeds. 


I tested IPVanish and was impressed by how well it worked on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. The apps are amazing and easy to use on mobile as well as on desktop, and it was super simple to set it up on a router. IPVanish provides a lot of great setup guides for routers which is also great news.


This VPN is great for anyone in the UAE with a DU subscription. You'll be able to get set up quickly and have all your devices protected at once, so you can evade censorship and surveillance and unblock content regardless of what device or platform you use. However, we found it wasn't suited for Etisalat customers. Of course, it doesn't hurt that you can connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously with IPVanish, which makes it outstanding value for money. 


IPVanish has servers located in over 75 countries, and because it is fast, it is ideal for doing data-intensive tasks in privacy. Many people want a VPN for video calling with services such as Skype or IMO, and with IPVanish this is not a problem. What's more, you can test this VPN for 30 days thanks to its money-back guarantee, so if you have any problems accessing what you need you can always decide to cancel and get your money back. An excellent all-rounder when it comes to gaining privacy and making VoIP calls. 

NordVPN is a great all-round, reliable VPN to use in the UAE. It has tight security and privacy features to make sure you go undetected online in the UAE.

  • Pricing

    From  $3.30 - $11.95
  • Speeds

    • 49.43 Mbps
  • Kill switch?

    • Yes
  • Stealth mode?

    • Yes

NordVPN uses a XOR obfuscated algorithm to allow you to overcome censored websites in the UAE. It also now provides its Nordlynx (Wireguard) protocol, which provides the obfuscation you need to get around VPN blocks in the UAE to establish a connection successfully on either DU or Etisalat. 


NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can test this VPN with your particular ISP to unblock geo-restricted content such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Skype, IMO (and other VOIP apps), and internet banking. NordVPN Also permits P2P torrenting. If it doesn't work for any reason you can always get your money back, no questions asked.


This VPN is based in Panama, and it keeps zero logs meaning that you can be confident that it keeps your data private. Other important security features offered by NordVPN include a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, Tor through VPN, and double-hop encryption.


For location spoofing purposes, NordVPN has servers in over 60 countries – all of which have consistently high speeds. Live chat support is available on its website 24/7. Overall, NordVPN provides exceptional value for your money and you can test it risk-free for 30-days thanks to its money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for UAE. According to reports, this well-known service works for many Etisalat customers. It can also unblock all major VoiP and streaming services.

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Speeds

    • 50.71 Mbps
  • Kill switch?

    • Yes
  • Stealth mode?

    • Yes

ExpressVPN is a secure service based in the British Virgin Islands. It is a zero-logs VPN that never stores any records of what its users do while connected. It also has the features you need to gain complete privacy in the UAE. The great news is that at the time of writing it even works for most Etisalat customers. If you are an Etisalat customer, then be sure to check out their 30-day money-back guarantee to ensure it works in your region.


Not only does ExpressVPN have servers in 94 countries, but they're quick and reliable whenever we use them, regardless of whether we're browsing the web or watching geo-restricted content. And ExpressVPN is always our go-to service when it comes to unblocking streaming services. The provider has no trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer and Netflix, and its incredible speeds mean we very rarely encounter any lag or buffering!


As as speeds, this service has great security features. To ensure you gain complete privacy, this VPN has apps for all platforms that can be used on up to 5 devices simultaneously. And those apps have a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, a browser extension that prevents WebRTC leaks, and obfuscation to ensure you can use the VPN without your ISP detecting VPN use. 


ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, all of which are extremely fast so you can stream in full HD without suffering any buffering issues. Plus, this VPN provides access to many of the most popular streaming services from around the world – including BBC iPlayer and Netflix US. It will also unblock Skype, IMO, and other VOIP apps. Customer care is available 24/7 via live chat, and the software and VPN setup guides are available for all platforms.

PrivateVPN is the cheapest VPN to stay secure in the UAE. It comes with stealth technology to help you go unnoticed and is perfect for unblocking streaming services.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.89 - $7.12
  • Speeds

    • 27.48 Mbps
  • Kill switch?

    • Yes
  • Stealth mode?

    • Yes

PrivateVPN is a superb service that comes at an extremely good price, making it good for anybody on a budget. As well as being cheap, this VPN is extremely reliable and provides well-implemented OpenVPN encryption right out of the box. In my experience, this makes it great for beginners. You can even connect via TCP over port 443 for extra obfuscation (cloaking). This ensures that you will be ultra-secure and that your ISP will not know you are using a VPN because your traffic will appear to be regular HTTPS.


I used PrivateVPN to access Netflix US and BBC iPlayer and found it to work without issues to stream in HD. We also liked that this service works while using VoIP apps such as Skype or Zoom. Plus, it has servers in over 60 countries which makes it great for unblocking a wide variety of content. If you are new to VPNs, you will be happy to hear it has 24/7 live chat support. We chatted to their agents and found them to be extremely helpful, which is a huge bonus.


An excellent all-rounder with a zero-logs policy. Just remember that it is not currently working with Etisalat, so you will need a DU subscription to use this VPN. 

Surfshark is a well rounded VPN if you're in the UAE – however, it doesn't work for Etisalat customers. If you're on DU though, you can expect excellent speeds & tight security.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.49 - $12.95
  • Speeds

    • 39.56 Mbps
  • Kill switch?

    • Yes
  • Stealth mode?

    • Yes

Surfshark is a VPN that is considered an excellent option for users in the UAE. However, it is worth bearing in mind that it will only work for users who subscribe to the Internet Service Provider DU. Admittedly, this is slightly frustrating for consumers who are with Etisalat,  but the fact remains that it is one of the few VPNs that will work for some UAE consumers.


Surfshark has servers in over 60 countries, and all those servers provide fantastic speeds for streaming. Surfshark is equipped to help you unblock popular streaming services such as Netflix Us and BBC iPlayer.


In our personal experience testing Surfshark, we were really impressed by how amazing the apps were to use across all platforms, whether on Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac it looked great and performed really well. This really helped make for an excellent VPN experience whether we were testing at home unblocking content, on the go and protecting our online privacy when using public wifi, or using it in the office when working. The speeds were incredible wherever we connected from, as well.


When it comes to privacy and security this provider has you covered. The software provides important VPN features such as a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation to ensure that you can use the VPN without being discovered. Surfshark has a zero-logs policy and provides OpenVPN encryption, which is perfect for keeping your data secure. You can give Surfshark a test run to make sure it works for you by making use of its risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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The Best VPN for Etisalat Customers

We are closely monitoring the situation on the ground in the UAE. We have someone on location performing tests to find out whether VPNs are still working there. This allows us to check which VPNs are still a valid option for Etisalat customers. 

Following our tests in 2021, we are confident that NordVPN is the best option if you are an Etisalat subscriber. 

NordVPN is always able to help Etisalat customers to connect, even if they have problems initially. Best of all, NordVPN now provides its implementation of the WireGuard protocol; NordLynx.

This is a super-fast protocol that provides built-in obfuscation as a result of which VPN use goes unnoticed and unblocked by the ISP.

Try Nord >>

NordVPN is a VPN provider recognized across the industry for providing a secure service and excellent unblocking capabilities. The service is based in Panama, it has secure apps for all paltforms, and it provides a choice of encryption protocols. 

This includes NordLynx and IKEv2, both of which are used by Etisalat customers to get around the ISP-enforced VPN blocks.

NordVPN has a kill-switch and obfuscation to conceal VPN use and to enable users to perform torrenting and other sensitive online tasks without being tracked. And, if you subscribe, you will get access to a network of servers situated worldwide. 

Check out our full NordVPN review for more information.

Why do ISPs block VPNs?

ISPs like Etisalat work with the government to block VPNs because the government places them under extreme pressure.

As a result, VPNs must constantly fight to evade those blocks. The situation is constantly evolving, and VPNs must work hard to find new ways to bypass the blocks. Luckily, you can test all the VPNs on this page risk-free thanks to their money-back guarantee.

If you notice a VPN has stopped working in the UAE, we recommend you contact your provider to find out if they can help. If a VPN on this page doesn't work, and its customer support team can't help you, simply ask for a full refund (and please let us know). We keep this page up-to-date and always listen to our readers if they experience difficulties. 

Mobile users

If you are a mobile user, we recommend changing onto Du if you want to use a VPN. Du doesn't try to block VPNs nearly as much as Etisalat. The same is true if you are a residential broadband subscriber and Du is available where you live. Changing onto Du is a great way to increase the number of VPN choices available to you.

However, if you're limited to Etisalat, you can try NordVPN with their money-back guarantee, or opt for a smaller, lesser-known VPN provider that is more likely to fly under the radar.

The fastest VPN for the UAE

Most people in the UAE want a VPN to use VoIP apps to make free calls to their friends and family or business colleagues. To engage in video calls, it is essential to get a fast VPN

The majority of VPNs on the market have slow servers that are not suitable for streaming HD videos, engaging in calls, or downloading torrents. That is why it is essential to find a VPN that works in UAE and provides access to fast servers.

In this guide, we have pinpointed VPN providers that work with services like Zoom and Skype. They have large networks of servers worldwide so that you can gain access to vast amounts of content while maintaining superb internet speeds.

All the VPNs in this guide are known to be super fast. We know this because we test VPN speeds on a daily basis to understand the speeds that they offer our readers. The table below shows the lastest results:

Place Provider Average Speed Max Speed Visit Site
1. 59.71 Mbit/s 76.10 Mbit/s Visit Site
2. 58.87 Mbit/s 81.78 Mbit/s Visit Site
3. 52.62 Mbit/s 71.87 Mbit/s Visit Site
4. 47.07 Mbit/s 57.50 Mbit/s Visit Site
5. 44.31 Mbit/s 56.33 Mbit/s Visit Site

For information about how we test VPN speeds, check out our speed testing tool for information about our methodology.

Why do I need a VPN in UAE?

The government of the UAE enforces censorship online for religious and cultural purposes. It also blocks access to VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom. this is because the government controls the telecoms industry and wants to prevent people from making free calls.

With a VPN you can unblock any websites blocked in the UAE including VoIP apps. A VPN encrypts your data, so that what you do online cannot be tracked by the government, a local network admin or ISP. This gives you privacy and stops the authorities from ever finding out what you do online.

This makes a VPN the only safe way to bypass censorship and blocks imposed by the government. Accessing restricted content without a VPN is too risky because UAE ISPs work closely with the government.

In addition to letting you bypass censorship, a VPN can let you get around international geo-restrictions. As a result, you can watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK, stream more content on Netflix US, unblock regionally restricted YouTube videos and much more.

Below we have included a list of reason why you might want to use a VPN in the UAE: 

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Top tip: Visiting the UAE

Visiting a VPN website may be enough to arouse suspicion because it reveals to your ISP (and the government) that you are intending to conceal your online habits. This could lead to the assumption that you are planning to access censored content to engage in VoIP calls. For this reason, we recommend that if you intend on traveling to the UAE; you subscribe to and install your VPN before you set off. 

Must have VPN features for UAE

If you access restricted websites and services in the UAE, you could face prosecution. Voice over IP is purposefully blocked, which means that you must use a highly secure VPN to unblock Skype, Facetime, Viber, or any other VoIP service. 

Below we have included a list of the features your VPN must-have if you are going to access government restricted content or services in the UAE. Be sure to enable these features when you use your VPN.

Are VPNs illegal in the UAE?

No, using a VPN in the UAE is legal.

Having a VPN installed on your smartphone, computer, or tablet is not illegal. However, using a VPN could be enough to suggest that you have something to hide and are accessing restricted content. This is why we suggest using a VPN with obfuscations (stealth connections) if you intend to access restricted content. This will allow you to access content censored by the TRA, without leaving any digital clues that could lead to an investigation, fines, and potentially even prison time.

So if you want to stay on the right side of the law... don't break it. That being said, it's always worth choosing a VPN that provides strong encryption, a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and some form of cloaking/obfuscation. Using a (non-recommended) free VPN for the UAE – or a VPN that does not provide these important features – could be risky depending on your use case. 

Your best bet will be to stick to one of the recommended VPNs for UAE in this article, as they have all the features you need to stay secure.

For more information on this topic, check out our are VPNs legal? guide.

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Using a VPN in UAE

Many businesses use VPNs to secure their data. This is why VPN use itself is not illegal in the UAE. Any time you use a VPN to encrypt your data and gain privacy – you are acting legally. However, if you choose to access restricted websites or services, you are committing a crime (even if nobody knows about it). This is why VPN use can potentially raise suspicions – and is we recommend taking precautions to prevent anybody from realizing you are using a VPN. 

Downloading your VPN

If you are visiting the UAE from another country, it is recommended that you download and install your VPN software before you land in the UAE. VPN sites are often blocked in the UAE, so accessing one there might be tricky. 

If you are already in the UAE, it is possible to subscribe to a VPN and have the provider send the installation and .config files to you directly for added discretion.

Using your VPN

As we discussed earlier, there are certain VPN features that are deemed to be essential when browsing the web in the UAE. Before you visit sites, it's a good idea to review your VPN settings and ensure that you are using OpenVPN encryption and the following features are all turned on (if your VPN offers them):

Testing your VPN

Finally, it is always a good idea to test your VPN isn't leaking before you use it. To do this, head over to our VPN leak testing tool and follow the steps. You'll get your results in a matter of minutes.

Using a free VPN in UAE

If you are running low on cash, you may be curious about the possibility of getting a free VPN to use in UAE. The good news is that there are some VPNs on the market that provide a reliable and trustworthy free VPN plan – but these come with some caveats. 

Free subscription plans are specifically designed to give you a limited taste of the paid version. As a result, those free plans are purposefully restricted – and may not provide you with the kind of service you need. For example, free VPNs cannot stream HD videos on a regular basis or to engage in video conferencing due to data caps and speed limits. 

If it's just a VPN for day-to-day browsing, then a free VPN could be a great option. Just make sure you stick with our list of recommended free VPN providers.

Are free VPNs safe to use in UAE?

Not all of them. There are many free VPNs on the market that harvest user data and sell it to third parties. Studies have revealed that most free VPNs have weak encryption and even contain spyware in their apps. These VPNs are an enormous risk. There are even some free VPNs around that are rumored to be government honeypots designed to catch UAE internet users out! So it is important to be careful.

Risks aside, these free VPNs are often very limited when it comes to features and offer a basic service. You might miss out on the important VPN factors that we outlined above as essential for UAE users.

We'd recommend testing the VPNs in this article by putting their money-back guarantees to the test. This will allow you to trial a complete, premium-tier VPN – with all the market leading privacy and security features – for approximately 30 days risk-free (check each VPN for the specific money-back deal). 

Alternatively, you could subscribe to a cheap VPN and reduce the cost of a fully-featured VPN by committing for a longer period of time.

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If you're finding free VPNs too restrictive, why not test ExpressVPN premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the no-nonsense money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the service for up to 30 days, and when you cancel, you will receive a complete refund!

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What is blocked in the UAE?

Below we take a look at the various websites and online services that are subject to local censorship in the UAE to help you understand how a VPN could benefit you.

What websites are blocked in the UAE?

Unblocking restricted content and using illegal VoIP apps could get you in trouble with the police. For this reason, a UAE VPN must have very specific features that you wouldn't necessarily need elsewhere.

Unfortunately for people living in the UAE, many popular websites and services are blocked.

Here are just some examples of the kinds of sites and services that are restricted:

  • Pornographic websites
  • Websites containing LGBTQ material 
  • Anti-Religious websites 
  • Anti-Islamic websites 
  • Gambling websites 
  • Anti-government
  • All Voice over IP apps

UAE VPNs for Skype, WhatsApp, and Facetime

In the UAE, the government controls the local telecoms company. For this reason, it strictly prohibits anybody from making free calls on Skype or other apps. As a result, the government has forced ISPs to block all access to popular VoIP apps. 

The good news is that if you get one of the VPNs in this guide, you can easily access VoIP apps and use them from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or elsewhere in the UAE.

Remember, you will need a VPN to use Skype, Discord, FaceTime, and most other VoIP apps. 

VOIP features in mobile apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp are also blocked in the UAE, so you will need a VPN to use them. By connecting to a VPN, iPhone and Android users can unblock these features and more. It's important to note that although iPhone and Android VPN apps look very similar to each other, encryption protocols can differ from service to service. Check the provider websites for more details about this.

While a VPN that is reliable will typically cost, on average, around $48 US per year, this can actually save you a lot of money by allowing you to make free calls to friends and family – as well as international calls for free.

If you are living anywhere in the UAE, a VPN can help you. The state imposes many blocks and a VPN can help you circumvent them all. It can be difficult to get on with your life if you can't access all the websites, apps, and services that are available online. 

With a VPN it doesn't matter whether you were born in Dubai, or are on holiday in Abu Dhabi; a VPN will let you bypass geo-restrictions, access the full Netflix catalog, use your Spotify login, let you unblock YouTube videos, or access illegal content such as pornography while you are in UAE.

Can I unblock GeForce Now with a VPN?

Nvidia's streaming platform is finally here, and if you want to use it in the UAE, you will need to use a VPN. Nvidia's GeForce Now game streaming platform lets you play AAA games from your browser, without the need for an expensive gaming PC. That means you can leverage the power of Nvidia's servers to play games, even on a laptop! 

In order to optimize the service, Nvidia only wants people playing on servers in their own region. This may be frustrating if you want to play games with international GeForce users.

On top of this, there is currently no server in the Middle East, as a result of which anybody living in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Bahrain will be served a "GeForce Now is currently not supported in your region."

The good news is that you can use any of the VPNs in this guide to pretend to be in Europe, the USA, or anywhere else where the game streaming platform is currently available. Simply subscribe to one of the VPNs in this guide, navigate to GeForce Now and use the service thanks to your VPN!

FAQs

Conclusion

Many people use a VPN in the UAE, and as long as you pick a reliable service and implement its advanced security features, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a message below. Remember, you can try any of the VPN's below, risk-free, thanks to their money-back guarantee.

  1. IPVanish - A strong and stealthy VPN for the UAE. It works great with Skype and other VoIP services & has a kill-switch as well as DNS leak protection.
  2. NordVPN - A good well-rounded VPN for the UAE. It's secure, fast and is known to unblock content for most ISPs, but is inconsistent with Etisalat.
  3. ExpressVPN - A slightly pricey option, but one of the best VPNs for UAE. Has excellent privacy and unblocking capabilities.
  4. PrivateVPN - The cheapest VPN for the UAE. From $1.89 a month you get a secure & private VPN that's great for unblocking.
  5. Surfshark - A well rounded VPN for customers of DU, offering decent speeds & security. Be aware though that it doesn't work with Etisalat.

We recommend you check out one of these alternatives:

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