If you’re in the UAE and try accessing content that is prohibited, you’ll come across the following message:
Access to this site is currently blocked. The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories of the UAE’s Internet Access Management Policy.
Unfortunately, the UAE is known to have strict internet restrictions imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA). VPNs are a popular method of getting around Etisalat internet restrictions and can allow you to unblock Skype as well as connect to Netflix US and other popular streaming services.
If you don’t have time to read the rest of this post, below is our shortlist of the best VPNs for Etisalat.
Best VPNs for Etisalat:
- NordVPN Our top choice for Etisalat! Provides the fastest speeds around, includes plenty of security features, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN A vast network of fast and secure servers that can unblock just about anything from almost everywhere
- PrivateVPN Lesser known provider managing to keep under the censors radar. Good speeds.
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Short for “Virtual Private Network”, a VPN service redirects your internet traffic through a VPN server, encrypting your data and hiding your IP address. A VPN is therefore not only useful for unblocking geo-restricted content but also protecting your online privacy and anonymity. Identity theft is on the rise and a VPN can help to guard your sensitive data, such as online banking access details and credit card numbers. However, Etisalat actually blocks most VPNs, making it even more difficult to access restricted content.
Not only is a lot of online content restricted by Etisalat in Dubai and the UAE, most VPNs are also blocked. Our research has narrowed down the options to 3 VPN services. At the time of writing, these VPNs all unblock geo-restricted content when using Etisalat in the UAE (though you may need to experiment with a few different servers). In particular, we looked for VPNs that met the following criteria:
- Able to securely access the internet in the UAE
- Servers located in countries around the world
- High speed connections for streaming HD content
- Strong security with 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch
- A no logs policy so that your online activity remains private
- Customer support (preferably with a 24/7 live chat feature)
We explain fully how we choose the VPNs on this list later in this article.
Best VPNs for Etisalat – at a glance
We’ve compared the most important features for the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for Etisalat.
|Website||NordVPN.com||ExpressVPN.com||PrivateVPN.com||Ranking for Etisalat:||1||2||3||UAE Servers:||10+||1+||1+||Avg Speed (Mbps)||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||39 Mbps||Activity logs||None||No identifying data||Simultaneous Connections||6||5||10|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.29|
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
SAVE 85% on the three year plan
Best VPNs for Etisalat (that still work)
We usually list a minimum of 5 VPNs but choices are very limited in the UAE. Here is our list of the 3 best VPNs for Etisalat.
Jun 2023 Works with EtisalatTested Jun 2023
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is one of very few VPNs that works with Etisalat in the UAE. Arguably NordVPN’s biggest selling point is that it has a huge network of servers. With well over 5,000 servers in 60 countries, this VPN service allows you to beat censorship and browse securely from almost anywhere in the world. NordVPN works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Skype and more. Aside from having plenty of servers to choose from, NordVPN is very fast as well as consistent. Indeed, NordVPN does promise 99% server uptime.
This VPN is ideal for families since you can use a single account on up to 6 devices at the same time. Aside from offering very good value, NordVPN has apps which are responsive and easy to use. Aside from a ‘Quick Connect’ option, you can browse servers by country. There’s even the option of specialty servers that include Onion Over VPN and Double VPN. NordVPN ticks all of the boxes when it comes to security with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, internet kill switch, and no-logs policy.
You can download NordVPN apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux and Android TV. Browser extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox.
NordVPN speed test data
|Website||NordVPN.com||Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||268 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||174 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||147 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.29|
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
- Huge network of over 5,000 servers
- The fastest speeds we’ve seen
- 6 devices can connect via one account
- Unblocks all manner of services
- Strong security with a no logs policy
- Desktop apps take slightly longer to connect
BEST VPN FOR ETISALAT:NordVPN is our top pick. Huge network of very fast servers. Also offers powerful privacy features and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Works with EtisalatTested Jun 2023
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is an ideal VPN service to use around the world. With over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has one of the largest networks around. This means you’ll be able to browse safelt not only in the UAE but also the likes of the USA, UK and Japan. We’ve found ExpressVPN connections to be consistently high speed, which makes this an excellent VPN for streaming HD quality videos with no buffering or lag.
Some of the sites and services that ExpressVPN works with on Etisalat include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp. Accessing geo-restricted content in the UAE is quick and easy thanks to ExpressVPN’s user-friendly apps. Simply select a location and you’ll be connected to a VPN server in seconds. If you do encounter any issues with Etisalat, you can always contact ExpressVPN support. There’s a live chat feature which we’ve tested ourselves and found to be excellent.
Online security is always important, particularly in countries where users worry about legal consequences for mistakenly accessing content deemed inappropriate. ExpressVPN features 256-bit AES encryption (military-grade) – one of the most widely used encryption standards. Also important is the kill switch feature that prevents your data from being exposed should the VPN connection drop. Finally, ExpressVPN has DNS leak protection and doesn’t keep any identifying connection or activity logs of its users.
ExpressVPN offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. It’s also one of the few VPNs to offer apps for Linux and routers. Browser extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. ExpressVPN MediaStreamer also makes it easier to use ExpressVPN on games consoles, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
ExpressVPN speed test data
|Website||ExpressVPN.com||Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||253 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||193 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||133 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$6.67|
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
- Works with lots of popular streaming services
- Fast and consistent connection speeds
- Servers in 94 countries
- User-friendly apps
- Excellent overall security with encryption
- Slightly more expensive than most VPNs
EXCELLENT SECURITY:ExpressVPN puts your privacy first. It offers fast speeds for downloading and streaming and is excellent at unblocking content in the UAE including Skype. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Works with EtisalatTested Jun 2023
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is a smaller VPN provider that still works well with Etisalat. Despite having a smaller network of around 200 servers, these are located worldwide in an impressive 63 countries. PrivateVPN has consistently found ways around anti-VPN measures. As such, you can use PrivateVPN to regain access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Skype and more. What we like most about PrivateVPN is that it offers very fast speeds. We were able to stream at high resolutions with absolutely no buffering.
We can recommend PrivateVPN for both beginners and more experienced VPN users alike. That’s because this VPN’s apps offer simple and advanced menus. You can simply click and connect to a server or explore the various settings on offer. PrivateVPN can be used on 6 different devices simultaneously, letting you secure everything from your laptop to your mobile. Speaking of security, PrivateVPN is safe to use since it offers a high level of encryption (256-bit AES), an internet kill switch feature and offers DNS leak protection. PrivateVPN also states that it has a zero data logging policy.
PrivateVPN offers apps for the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
PrivateVPN speed test data
|Website||PrivateVPN.com||Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||94 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||57 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||62 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$2.00|
SAVE 85% on the three year plan
- Very fast and consistent performance
- Good for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc
- Allows up to 10 devices on a single account
- Secure VPN with 256-bit AES encryption
- Fewer servers than many VPNs
- Live chat isn’t usually available
FAST SPEEDS:PrivateVPN offers fast speeds for HD streaming, works with Netflix and Skype and has a zero data logging policy.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Is it legal to use a VPN in UAE?
While we are not legal experts and this shouldn’t be considered legal advice, it is generally considered legal to use a VPN in the UAE, despite the anti-VPN measures implemented by internet service providers such as Etisalat. The UAE actually has laws related to the use of VPNs. Indeed, UAE law says that a VPN is only illegal if it’s used to commit a crime.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) is responsible for internet censorship in the UAE. Content that is prohibited in the UAE is:
any content that offends against, is objectionable to, or is contrary to the public interest, public morality, public order, public national security, Islam morality or is otherwise prohibited by any applicable UAE law, regulation, procedure, order or requirement…
Some examples of prohibited content include:
- VoIP sites such as Skype
- Pornography and nudity
- Fraud, impersonation and phishing
- Drugs and mind affecting substances
- Gambling and similar activities (bets, lottery, electronic gambling)
- Discrimination, racism and contempt of religion
You can read more on using a VPN in our guide to the best VPNs for UAE.
Can I use a free VPN with Etisalat?
No, you won’t be able to use a free VPN with Etisalat due to the company’s extensive VPN blocking. There are several reasons why we advise against using free VPNs, particularly in the UAE:
- The vast majority of free VPNs simply won’t work with Etisalat which blocks VPNs on a regular basis. Indeed, if you’re trying to access VoIP services such as Skype, you’ll need a quality VPN to get past the blocks implemented by the UAE government.
- Free VPNs have far fewer servers. This makes unblocking content from other countries more difficult. In contrast, the best-paid VPNs have thousands of servers worldwide, often in dozens of countries.
- With fewer servers and more people trying to use the service, free VPNs often suffer from poor performance. As such, you’ll find streaming videos and making video calls will be difficult due to buffering and lag.
- A VPN should improve your online security. Free VPNs do not offer as many security features as paid VPNs. At the very least, you should look for a VPN that uses 256-bit AES encryption, has DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch.
- Last but certainly not least, free VPNs often keep logs of your data and activity. This is especially risky in countries such as the UAE where accessing content that is deemed inappropriate or illegal may have legal consequences. For this reason, we strongly advise you choose a VPN with a no logs policy.
VPN not working with Etisalat? Try this
We’ve found NordVPN to be by far the most reliable VPN in the UAE. However, even this provider can occasionally struggle to work with Etisalat. If your VPN is not working with Etisalat try this:
- Leave the protocol on Automatic.
- Try connecting to any of the UK or USA server locations.
- It may take longer than usual to connect (up to a minute or more at times), but that’s normal.
- Try a few other server locations if the above step fails.
- As a last resort, switch protocol to L2TP and then try connecting again. We don’t advise users to always use L2TP, but it might work in the UAE.
Methodology: How we found the best VPNs for Etisalat
Browsing the web in the UAE can be frustrating due to the strict internet censorship that’s in place. Of course, there are other factors to consider as well such as server speed and security. Below, we detail our methodology for finding the best VPNs for Etisalat:
- Unblocking: More than anything, you’ll need a VPN with strong unblocking ability in the UAE. That’s because many popular websites and services are restricted. These can only be unblocked by connecting to servers in other countries and changing your IP address.
- Speed: There are multiple reasons why a VPN might slow your connection. Server proximity and user load as well as encryption are factors at play. However, some VPNs are simply faster than others while the best VPNs for Etisalat even include unlimited bandwidth.
- Network size: Any high-quality VPN will have servers in dozens of countries. This allows you to unblock most popular websites and services that might be geo-restricted or government-censored. Furthermore, the larger a network, the less server load there’s likely to be.
- Security: Whether you’re in the UAE or traveling abroad, there are always security risks to be aware of. By using a VPN, you can ensure your data is encrypted and secure from hackers. The VPNs recommended above also include a kill switch and protection from leaks.
- Privacy: Privacy protection is always important, particularly so in the UAE where your online activity may be monitored by your ISP and even the government. As such, you must use a VPN with a no-logs policy. We’ve assessed VPN logging policies so you can see which are safe (and which to avoid!).
- Ease of use: All of the above means little if the VPN is too complicated to use. To make your life easier, there should be beginner-friendly apps for a variety of operating systems. We also only choose VPN services that include 24/7 support via live chat and email.
- Value for money: With so many VPNs challenging for your business, there’s just no need to spend a fortune on one. All of the best VPNs for Etisalat offer affordable subscriptions plus multiple simultaneous connections. In fact, you can save further by taking advantage of our VPN coupons.
Want to know more about our VPN testing methodology? We test VPNs extensively ourselves in order to find all of their pros and cons. In doing so, we hope to make your decision that little bit easier.
Etisalat VPN FAQ
Is Etisalat the only internet provider in UAE?
No, there are actually two main internet providers in the UAE: Etisalat and Du. Etisalat is the larger of the two. The same online restrictions apply whichever ISP you choose to use. Fortunately, you can bypass the strict internet censorship of the UAE by connecting to a server in another country via a VPN.
Does Etisalat track my online activities?
Is Etisalat mobile WiFi secure?
While the WiFi of Etisalat is no less secure than that of any other ISP, a VPN offers an even greater layer of security. Your internet traffic is secured with the highest level of encryption while, unlike Etisalat, the best paid VPNs don’t keep any logs. Furthermore, changing your IP address with a VPN makes it much more difficult for your online activity to be tied to your identity and location.
Which VPN are people using in Dubai?
Unfortunately, ISPs such as Etisalat are actively blocking VPNs in Dubai and UAE. This is a country with a high level of internet censorship. However, the good news is that there are still some VPNs that work in Dubai. In particular, people are using NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and PrivateVPN to bypass restrictions. To do this, you’ll need to change your IP address by connecting to a VPN server in another country.
Why did Roblox get banned in the UAE?
In 2018, Roblox was banned in the UAE. The government’s reasoning was that the popular online game platform was damaging to the health of children. The live chat feature is thought to have been one area of particular concern. Fortunately, not all VPNs are blocked in the UAE. As such, it’s possible to use the likes of NordVPN to bypass restrictions and unblock Roblox in the UAE.
Is WireGuard blocked in the UAE?
WireGuard is a newer VPN protocol that claims to be faster and more efficient than the likes of OpenVPN and IKEv2. Many VPNs are blocked in the UAE. However, NordVPN is one of the few that still works. One of its protocols is NordLynx which is a modified version of WireGuard. Indeed, NordVPN recommends using the NordLynx connection protocol when connecting from a country with internet restrictions.
What is an obfuscated server and why is this important for UAE VPNs?
An obfuscated server is a VPN server that you can connect to using protocols designed to conceal your VPN connection from your ISP. VPN obfuscation makes your web traffic appear to be regular HTTPS, like that used by secure websites. This makes it much harder for anybody to detect that a VPN is being leveraged by the user.
VPN providers that implement obfuscated servers use a variety of different obfuscation methods. This includes Obfsproxy, Stunnel, Xor, and other proprietary obfuscation technologies developed by individual VPN providers for their users.
Some VPNs also provide the option to connect using the OpenVPN TCP protocol over port 443, which serves as a rudimentary form of obfuscation (but is not effective enough to get around firewalls such as that used by the Chinese government, for example).
Obfuscation is extremely useful in countries like the UAE where VPN use is monitored and restricted. It allows internet users to connect to a VPN without causing their ISP or the government to become suspicious about what that consumer may be doing online. This is useful if you are using a VPN to access online services that the government has purposefully censored, such as VoIP apps.
Will Etisalat know I'm using a VPN?
When you connect to a VPN, it is possible that your ISP will detect that a VPN is in use, and if it knows which IPs are associated with a VPN it may even know which VPN provider you re using.
Besides detecting VPN use in this way, the ISP may detect VPN use by monitoring your traffic itself. A VPN thwarts your ISP’s ability to monitor your DNS requests and to keep a list of the URLs you visit. As a result, it is possible that Etisalat will deduce that you are using a VPN for privacy purposes.
Thankfully, some VPNs provide a feature called obfuscated servers. This allows you to connect to the VPN while also concealing the encrypted VPN connection from your ISP. Obfuscation works by making your web traffic appear to be regular HTTPS traffic bound for a website. This allows you to use the VPN without raising an alarm.
That said, the VPN rules in the UAE are complicated. Although it is illegal to use a VPN to access services and websites that have been censored by the government, it is not actually illegal to have or use a VPN. In fact, many businesses rely on VPNs for privacy and security purposes. Thus, you should be safe to use a VPN without obfuscation as long as you are not doing anything illegal.
Will a VPN change my Etisalat DNS server IP address?
VPNs can change your Etisalat DNS server IP address, but whether or not they will depends on the VPN service you are using. Some VPNs automatically change your DNS server settings when you connect to them, while others do not.
Why are so many messaging apps banned in the UAE?
The UAE's official stance is that free messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime take profits away from state-backed telecoms companies like Etisalat and Du. According to Freedom House, these services are still accessible via fixed-line connections, at least for the time being.
It's also worth noting that not every blocked service is a direct result of governmental decisions. For instance, Freedom House's 2022 UAE Freedom on the Net report mentions that both Etisalat and Du have previously blocked access to certain sites because of flaws in their automated filtering tools.
Disclaimer: Comparitech does not condone or encourage any violation of copyright restrictions. Please consider the law, victims, and risks of piracy before downloading copyrighted material without permission. If you’re unclear about the legal ramifications then it’s best to speak with a lawyer first.