Qatar is one of the most connected countries in the Middle East, with almost the entire population having access to the internet. Unfortunately, its internet is carefully monitored and regulated by the state, leading to outright bans on several sites and social media apps. What’s more, many Qatar residents practice self-censorship when it comes to discussing politics and current affairs, as they’re careful not to attract the wrath of authorities. This article will discuss the reasons why residents of Qatar or those traveling there should use a VPN and the best ones for this purpose.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the web traffic flowing to and from your device and routes it via an intermediary server. This makes host websites and apps think you’re in a different location which accounts for the ability to unblock geo-restricted content. The encryption aspect of it keeps government and surveillance agencies safely at bay.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here is a summary list of the best VPNs for Qatar:
- NordVPN Best all-round VPN for Qatar. Plenty of secure server locations and a strong emphasis on privacy. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget VPN choice. A versatile service that puts your security and privacy first.
- ExpressVPN Fast speeds, excellent security, good for streaming and content unblocking.
- IPVanish Popular with torrenters and Kodi users.
- PrivateVPN A newcomer with fast speeds and good for streaming.
- Hotspot Shield Offers very high speeds and strong unblocking ability.
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We’ve evaluated providers on the following standards before mentioning them on our list of the best VPNs for Qatar:
Criteria for selecting the best VPNs for Qatar
- Has a wide network of servers across the world
- Unblocks geo-restricted streaming services without breaking a sweat
- Offers a fast and reliable service
- Uses strong encryption parameters to guard your location
- Allows for multiple simultaneous connections
- Provides excellent customer support
Best VPNs for Qatar
Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Qatar that meet our criteria.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our top pick for a Qatar VPN. It pegs incredible speeds and has built a robust reputation around privacy. Its network of more than 5,500 servers spans 60 countries with plenty of options in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia.
NordVPN’s fast speeds mean it’s well-suited for streaming HD video. In our extensive user review, the service was easily able to circumvent blockades on sites such as US Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, and more. Users are offered a choice to select a server that optimizes certain tasks, including streaming HD video and double VPN.
NordVPN does not store any user data. Its servers have been confiscated on a couple of occasions but authorities couldn’t find any incriminating evidence. Security standards include 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN protocol, an automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection.
Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect concurrently.
- Superfast downloads and streaming
- Unblocks Netflix US, UK, and others from almost anywhere
- Military-grade encryption
- Strict no logs policy
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Can’t specify a city to connect to
BEST FOR QATAR:NordVPN is our top pick. It works well for streaming, keeps no logs, and is packed with great security features. Includes 30-day money back guarantee for a risk-free deal.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a budget-friendly provider that offers access to over 1,700 servers in 60+ countries, so it’s a great choice for bypassing geographic restrictions. Of course, it also lets you access websites that are usually unavailable in Qatar. One of the best things about Surfshark is that it has no connection limit. This means that you can browse the web securely on every device you own, without having to remember which devices are unprotected.
This service actually includes a NoBorders feature that was designed to bypass country-wide internet blocking. There’s also 256-bit AES encryption, an internet kill switch, an ad-blocker, a malware-scanner, and protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks. Surfshark follows a no-logging policy but for added protection, you can choose to pay in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple. Surfshark customer support actively encourages you to contact them over 24/7 live chat if you find yourself unable to use the service in Qatar.
Surfshark offers access to Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS apps. This VPN also works with select wireless routers, although you’ll have to install it manually.
- Has no connection limit
- Wide range of security features
- Specifically designed for countries with strict censorship
- 24/7 support
- Still has the occasional slow server
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark comes packed with security and privacy features, making it ideal for anyone who wants to access the internet freely in Qatar. It also offers decent speeds, a no-logs policy, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN ships with top-notch encryption standards, offers fast speeds, and incorporates a server network that spans the globe.
This provider offers more than 3,000 servers to choose from around the world. It easily unblocks a wide selection of geo-restricted streaming media services, including US Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more. Live customer support is available around the clock to iron out any concerns.
ExpressVPN is one of the hardiest providers out there from a security and encryption standpoint. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is considered to be first-class. Included is a built-in internet kill switch along with DNS leak protection, so your information always remains within the VPN encrypted tunnel. Furthermore, ExpressVPN doesn’t store any detailed user logs, such as IP addresses.
It offers apps for Android and iOS, as well as desktop clients for Windows and MacOS. A single subscription allows for five simultaneous connections.
- Best performer for Qatar in our testing
- Large server network has no issues unblocking most popular geo-restricted content and streaming sites
- Doesn’t log any personally identifiable information
- Fast, reliable connection speeds
- A little more expensive than some rivals
BROWSE ANONYMOUSLY:ExpressVPN has fast speeds for streaming and torrenting, great content unblocking, and class-leading security features. Works with services blocked in Qatar including Skype, WhatsApp calling and FaceTime. Includes a 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish scores points on both speed and privacy. It’s one of the few VPN providers that independently operates its entire network of servers – most services either outsource or rent space. At the time of writing, it has 1,300 servers in over 75 worldwide locations.
Military-grade encryption protocols are shipped with all subscription tiers. Web traffic is secured with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch. IPVanish doesn’t store any user data, meaning there’s no retention of traffic or connection logs of any nature.
IPVanish is a known favorite with torrenters and Kodi users for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it enables them to download the Android APK directly to their device. Secondly, the interface is remote control-friendly for Kodi devices that usually lack a keyboard and mouse. It works with streaming media sites such as BBC iPlayer.
This provider allows an unlimited number of devices to connect concurrently, which is significantly higher than the industry standard of five. Another valuable upgrade is its addition of 24/7 live chat for customer support. It offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS.
- Unblocks Netflix US
- Very fast speeds
- Kill switch on desktop
- No WebRTC leak protection
SUITABLE FOR TORRENTING:IPVanish is popular for torrenting. No logs, strong encryption and above average speeds. Doesn’t work consistently with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video or BBC iPlayer. Includes 7 day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has quickly managed to establish a meaningful reputation for itself in the VPN industry, despite its status as a relative newcomer. It delivers fast speeds with solid encryption protocols to back that up.
Its focus on quality over quantity means the server offering is relatively tiny – with just under 90 servers in 56 locations – but it does its job very well. Some of the sites it unblocks easily are Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video.
Strong security and privacy features are a hallmark of this provider. Users can opt for either 128- or 256-bit encryption and are also offered perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect at the same time.
The provider offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Operates a network spanning 57 countries
- Use up to six devices simultaneously
- Kill switch on Windows
- Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat
- Fewer server choices than other providers
- May need support assistance in locating the best server to choose
GOOD FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN works well with streaming services. Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and most other streaming services. Speeds are good although the network of servers to choose from is smaller than other VPNs on this list. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our review of PrivateVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Hotspot Shield has more than 3,000 servers in over 70 countries worldwide. With exceptionally high speeds, this service is ideal for unblocking platforms like Netflix US, but that’s not all it’s capable of. In fact, Hotspot Shield can bypass Qatari internet censorship without any additional setup required. Users can connect up to five devices simultaneously.
This VPN includes a wide variety of security features. There’s 256-bit encryption, for instance, as well as DNS leak protection and a kill switch that ensures you’ll never inadvertently browse without being connected to the VPN. It’s also possible to automatically connect any time you’re on an unsecured network. Hotspot Shield doesn’t keep any personally identifiable data once your session ends, meaning your activities cannot be traced back to you. While the apps are very user-friendly, you can contact customer support over 24/7 live chat in the event of any problems.
Hotspot Shield apps are available for Android, Windows, MacOS, and iOS devices.
- Faster than many of its rivals
- Strong on online security
- Bypasses governmental blocking with ease
- Working to rebuild reputation after past privacy issues
- No Linux support
BYPASS CENSORSHIP:Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPNs around, and it’s capable of bypassing Qatar’s internet restrictions with ease. This service provides strong security features, a 45-day money-back guarantee, and access to a huge network of servers.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review.
Should I use a free VPN in Qatar?
Qatar’s internet users will find the online landscape is heavily monitored and censored. Therefore, it’s imperative to opt for a VPN that provides top-tier levels of privacy, encryption, and speeds in order to evade government censorship and access blocked content. Unfortunately, these standards are not met by the random free VPNs that exist in abundance across the interwebs.
Most free VPN providers ship a basic product in order to lure unsuspecting users and monetize their service via spammy advertisements or frequent interruptions to upgrade to a paid service. As such, they’re not going to magically offer you the same levels of customer support, speed, and other features as paid VPN services do. On a practical level, this means that you will be subjected to weak encryption standards, wait times to connect to a server in case of network congestion, and data caps. The latter aspect means a free VPN is typically a poor choice for data-intensive tasks like streaming video and playing online games.
Some sordid free VPN services have also engaged in highly unethical acts such as leveraging user bandwidth to build botnet armies and infecting host devices with malware in order to mine data. Clearly, it’s in your best interests to avoid using free VPNs when browsing the internet and choose a private VPN connection from a reputable provider.
Why should I use a VPN in Qatar?
The US Department of State clearly outlines that Qatar practices restrictions on the freedoms of speech and press; criminalizes libel; restricts assembly and association; prohibits the formation of political parties and labor unions, and does not allow citizens to choose their government in free and fair elections.
In 2016, Qatari authorities blocked access to Doha News, a popular English-language news website that had a history of covering sensitive political topics. Internet censorship in the country is practiced discreetly – Ooredoo and Vodaphone, the two internet service providers, are believed to operate under directions of the state regulator and stymie access to sites at will.
Internet advocacy body Freedom House adds that press freedoms in Qatar are “not free” and that media professionals in the country are “subject to significant restrictions.” Furthermore, the entire landscape is heavily self-censored while “journalists are subject to prosecution for criticizing the Qatari government, the ruling family, or Islam.”
What’s more, Qatar allows the regular broadcast of Al-Jazeera, a news and current affairs broadcast station that regularly criticizes rival Arab governments, but silences any voices of dissent at home.
In this climate of stifling internet freedom, it’s in your best interests to use a VPN to navigate the web in Qatar.
Torrenting in Qatar also sits in a legal grey area. Some media providers warn against streaming content from “illegal sites” or downloading material that is copyrighted, saying that said activity can warrant legal action. However, we haven’t come across any instances where individuals were persecuted for downloading torrenting material. Having said that, it’s better to remain on the safe side and use a reliable VPN while downloading torrents in order to protect your privacy.
DISCLAIMER: Comparitech does not encourage using a VPN to stream content illegally. Please consult local laws before deciding to embark on this route. If you have any questions, then it’s best to talk to a lawyer in your country of residence.
How to use a VPN in Qatar
Follow these steps below to obtain a non-Qatari IP address while currently in the country.
Here’s how to use a VPN in Qatar:
- The first order of business is to decide on a provider. We recommend NordVPN.
- Once you’ve decided on a VPN that works for you, then simply sign up with your credit card information. Some providers also accept PayPal, Bitcoin, and other payment methods.
- Download the relevant apps for your device directly from the provider’s site.
- After installation is complete, restart all devices.
- Open your VPN app and use it to connect to a server of your choice.
- Now your internet activity is private and secure.
Accessing Netflix libraries in Qatar
If you log into your Netflix account while in Qatar, you’ll be shown the local library of content. This holds true even if you’re visiting the country and had originally registered the account in Europe or North America. Netflix scans your IP address and uses that to determine which library of content it will show. If you want to overcome this restriction, you’ll have to connect to a VPN server to change the visible Netflix library. If you’re trying to access US Netflix, you’ll need to connect to a server in the US prior to logging in to the Netflix app.
Netflix attempts to block VPNs due to copyright restriction laws. Its library of movies and television shows involve licensing agreements with other production houses, so it can’t simply broadcast all content across the globe. If you use a VPN that doesn’t support Netflix, then you’ll probably be shown a proxy error message. Most of the VPNs we’ve recommended in this article work with Netflix, but if you run into any problems, it’s a good idea to check with your VPN customer support for help. Netflix is continuously updating its filtering mechanisms, but VPNs are aware of this and constantly finding workarounds.
Qatar VPN FAQ
Why is my VPN not working in Qatar?
ISPs in Qatar have been known to block access to some VPNs, making it difficult (but not impossible) to download and install a VPN. Fortunately, most major VPNs do work in Qatar so you shouldn’t have too many issues. If you’re traveling to Qatar in future, it’s a good idea to ensure your VPN is all set up ahead of time to prevent any issues arising.
Is it legal to use a VPN in Qatar?
Although there is a high level of online censorship in Qatar, it is perfectly legal to use a VPN in the country. It’s worth knowing that some ISPs block access to the websites of VPNs. Otherwise, you’ll face little restriction when it comes to downloading, installing, and ultimately using VPNs in Qatar.
How do I access Skype, WhatsApp, and Facetime in Qatar?
Despite geopolitical differences, Qatar follows the lead of Middle Eastern governments in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia by continuing to block VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime. The Qatari government maintains that only registered businesses in the country are allowed to provide telecommunications services and that internet-based voice chat applications run in contravention to these laws. Hence the instant messaging part of the app functions as normal but you’ll be barred from making or receiving any voice calls.
To overcome these restrictions, it’s necessary to connect to a VPN server first. If you’re currently in Qatar then we recommend you register for and download one of the paid providers we’ve mentioned on this list. After that’s set up, it’s a simple matter of connecting to a server outside Qatar first. Selecting one in North America or Europe is a good idea as VoIP services function as normal in these regions. Once a connection has been successfully established, proceed to use your chosen service. You should notice that all features now work as normal.
How do I watch Al Jazeera and BeIN sports when abroad?
Both Al Jazeera and BeIN sports are popular broadcast services that have Qatari owners. Some countries block access to these channels for a multitude of reasons. If you’re a Qatar resident and want to access these and other services while traveling abroad, VPNs can provide a solution.
If the Al Jazeera livestream is blocked for you, then read our guide on how to unblock it safely from anywhere in the world.