Update: January 1st, 2018
Moving to Dubai was not an easy decision to make. First, my girlfriend and I were pretty settled in our new flat. We were living close to both our families and were pretty happy with our lives. We had even begun to talk about starting a family.
Moving to the Middle East would not have even have crossed our minds. But then my Boss called me in for that meeting. I have to be honest, there was only one real incentive to make the move. Money. They were offering me a huge pay rise… more than twice my regular salary, as well as an apartment, car, and basically everything we would need. Oh and they kept stressing the fact that I’d be paying no tax… not a cent.
It took a few weeks to make up our minds, but in the end we decided it was just too good a package to turn down. A month on, and our flat was rented, possessions in boxes, and we were on the plane. Settling in was pretty easy for me, as I had work to go to, but for my girlfriend it was a lot harder. She spent a lot of time at our apartment to begin with, and missed home a lot.
I decided she needed some good old US entertainment to keep her spirits up, so looked into setting up a Netflix account for her.
Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to get access to most of the entertainment services I was accustomed to. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Licensing restrictions
- Censorship by the United Arab Emirates government
I quickly discovered that the United Arab Emirates has a more conservative view on free speech. They censor content that is overtly adult, dating or blasphemous. The censorship policies are implemented by the TRA (Telecom Regulatory Authority), although the nation’s telecom oligopoly plays a role in censoring content as well. Du and Etisalat are the major ISP providers and many residents feel they routinely block content at their own discretion.
The good news is that the authorities aren’t nearly as stringent as their counterparts in many other countries, such as China and even Brazil. The bad news is that they aren’t always very clear on their policies.
You also have to deal with intellectual property right restrictions. Entertainment companies like Netflix only purchase the rights to stream content in certain areas. They typically buy these rights in large countries like the United States, where they have a larger market. Since the market for entertainment services in the UAE is pretty small, they don’t operate there.
It turned out I couldn’t get US Netflix in Dubai without a VPN, so that’s where I headed next.
As it turned out, having a VPN in UAE has opened up a whole new link back to the country we both miss. We can access so many sites that were restricted to us here, as well as watching all the best shows on Netflix and keep up with the news stations too.
So why would you use a VPN instead of a free web proxy? There are several reasons:
- Proxies tend to be very slow. If you want to a decent streaming experience on Netflix, you will need a speed of at least 2 megabits per second. If you want to watch Netflix in HD, you need speeds of at least 5 megabits per second. The average web proxy is far too slow.
- Web proxies may hide your IP address from Netflix, but they don’t offer any protection from your ISP. Du and Etisalat are under a lot of pressure from the telecommunications authority to keep users from accessing prohibited content. Even if Netflix allows you to access their service, the telecommunications companies may use DNS poisoning or another trick to keep you from using the content.
- While web proxies hide your real IP address, they don’t always do a great job at it. They often pass personally identifiable information with your HTTP requests, so Netflix may determine your real location.
If you don’t want to have your service interrupted by either Netflix or your local ISP, you should use a VPN instead. Using a VPN in UAE is even more important if you intend to watch movies on Netflix that the UAE or Dubai governments may deem obscene, because you may be facing serious charges. If the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) believes the content you view on Netflix violates obscenity laws, you could be facing up to six months in prison and a fine between Dh150,000 and Dh1 million. Since the laws are pretty vague (especially for foreigners), it is best not to avoid broadcasting that you are watching anything racy on Netflix.
We are both settled here now and pretty happy. Baby talk is back on the agenda, and I firmly believe it is discovering VPNs which helped us get to this point. Almost all the ex-pats we have met here seem to use one, and after speaking to them I have put together this short guide to help anyone else looking to identify the best VPN Dubai users should go with.
So check out the 5 best VPN UAE providers, which I list and go into detail on below:
Individual breakdown of each VPN...
ExpressVPN is the VPN we use here in Dubai, and despite dabbling with others, we still feel it offers the best level of performance and consistency of service. The installation process is nice and easy, the interface is very straightforward and its speeds are fast and consistent. It can be used on almost every device you can imagine, and also offers top notch privacy settings. They also offer a comprehensive range of servers encompassing almost every country you can think of.
$12.95 for one month account
$9.99 per month for 6 month account
$8.32 per month for 12 month account
Operating System Compatibility
VPN Protocols Offered
- A 30 Day Money Back Guarantee if you are not completely satisfied.
- Dedicated Apps for Android and iOS devices
- A wide variety of internationally recognized payment options.
- A really easy installation, registration, and setup process.
- They are in the middle-to-higher price bracket
- They require different logins if you use their service across multiple devices
ExpressVPN has a zero logging policy, so you don’t have to worry about being traced in any way. ExpressVPN is also based in the British Virgin Islands, which is known for its steadfast commitment to protecting user privacy. This is important, because you don’t want the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) to find any traces that you have been using a VPN to access Netflix.
You shouldn’t have any trouble streaming content on Netflix with ExpressVPN, because speed tests have shown that it can be as fast as 122 megabits per second, which is 24 times as fast as you need to stream Netflix in HD.