The best UAE VPN for Dubai in 2023

The UAE flag displayed on a laptop screen
(Image credit: Future)

If you're in the country, having a UAE VPN for Dubai is absolutely essential. From using WhatsApp to accessing state-censored websites and global streaming content, the best VPN is the perfect tool that's totally legal to have installed.

Citizens, workers and visitors alike are subjected to Etisalat and Du's monopoly on VoIP services, and without a VPN you'll be unable to use WhatsApp or FaceTime to make calls. Bagging a VPN in Dubai works out much cheaper than signing up to a plan with one of these providers.

Most social media is also limited in some way, plus travelers will need a VPN to unblock any streaming or sports subscriptions they pay for back home. So, a UAE VPN is pretty much essential for anyone who steps foot inside the country.

Note: For travellers, we strongly recommend installing a Dubai VPN before you leave home, as they may not be available to download when you're in the country.

What makes the best UAE VPN?

A Dubai VPN should be well-rounded due to the wide range of uses in the country. For users looking to access VoIP services and avoid network restrictions, obfuscated servers that mask VPN usage will be essential. This is because if you're detected using a VPN, you still won't get access to the apps or sites you want.

The UAE also has a track record of blocking various sites with little notice, so having a VPN with a good history of being able to access restricted content is also essential. A robust support network is also invaluable in the case that something doesn't work as it should.

As always, privacy should be a priority. Staying anonymous is of utmost importance due to the government's strong opposition to VPNs, so quality encryption, zero-logging policies and a choice of protocols are signs of VPNs that take privacy seriously.

Topping our list is ExpressVPN. Widely regarded as the best UAE VPN for Dubai and the rest of the country, its stealthy servers, great speeds and excellent support mean it's a reliable way of accessing restricted content. However, there are a number of other options, so scroll on to find out which UAE VPN is best for you.

1. ExpressVPN – the best VPN for UAE and Dubai (opens in new tab)

1. ExpressVPN – the best VPN for UAE and Dubai (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN is the best service on the market for staying anonymous and accessing blocked content in the UAE. From regional Netflix libraries to Skype and WhatsApp, it's an essential tool for visitors and residents alike. And now, you can claim three free months with Tom's Guide.

NordVPN – the biggest VPN name for UAE (opens in new tab)

2. NordVPN – the biggest VPN name for UAE (opens in new tab)
NordVPN is another proven VPN service that can get you around the UAE's internet and phone network blocks. You'll also be able to stream tons of content, and stay secure online, and get world-class speeds on its 5,500 servers.

3. Surfshark – cheap access to Skype, WhatsApp and more (opens in new tab)

3. Surfshark – cheap access to Skype, WhatsApp and more (opens in new tab)
For those looking to spend as little as possible but still get a premium service, Surfshark could be an excellent option. With great VoIP performance and excellent privacy and streaming features, it's great value at less than $2.50 a month

The five best UAE VPNs you can get today

ExpressVPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
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1. ExpressVPN

The best all-round UAE VPN

Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Unblocks: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

Great apps for all devices
30-day guarantee to test service
Class-leading support
Excellent privacy
Only 5 simultaneous connections

From delivering excellent connection speeds worldwide to the power to evade VPN-blocking technology, ExpressVPN is an all-round package that delivers on every front – and because of that, we rate it the top VPN for Dubai and the UAE.

Express provides excellent privacy, with AES-256 encryption, a selection of protocols to choose from, plus IPv6 leak protection and a kill switch. However, just keeping the apps on their automatic settings will provide the perfect combination of speed and security.

Alongside great privacy, Express is also great for unblocking geo-restricted streaming services – you'll be able to browse global Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, and access live sporting events from around the world. All you need to do is select a server in a country of your choice, and you'll be able to stream it as if you were there in person.

A UAE VPN also needs great support as restrictions seem to be constantly changing, and Express has perfected it. You'll be able to talk to a real person 24/7 – they usually reply in a matter of seconds – and ask them any question you want about the service. If your connection isn't working you should be able to get help, and Express also has a dedicated UAE page on its support site.

What really puts ExpressVPN above the competition, though, is how it combines these premium features and presents it all in a genuinely simple and easy-to-use package. The apps are totally plug and play, and even newbies can get protected in seconds – plus a 30-day money-back guarantee means you can test the service for free to make sure it works.

If we had to find a fault, it'd be that Express only offers five simultaneous connections – meaning you'll only be able to use the VPN on five devices at a time. However, that should be more than enough for most people, and it's a sacrifice we'd be willing to make to get the very best UAE VPN on the market. 

Get 3 months FREE of the best UAE VPN (opens in new tab)

Get 3 months FREE of the best UAE VPN (opens in new tab)
As the full package, ExpressVPN is the best option for those in the UAE, and now it's even better value with three months free – that's 15 months for the price of 12. Combine that with a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to try it out risk-free, and you've got a great-value package with the best UAE VPN money can buy.

NordVPN on a mobile device and laptop

(Image credit: NordVPN)
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2. NordVPN

Security, speed and simplicity

Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Unblocks: Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 5,500+ | Maximum devices supported: 6

Security-focused service
5 servers in UAE
Great connection speeds
Mobile apps are a little awkward

There's a reason why our NordVPN review ranked the service so highly, and just one of the big name's strengths is its power as a UAE VPN.

Nord's security-focused approach pays dividends when it comes to staying safe in Dubai and the UAE, and its excellent encryption ensures your browsing stays truly private. Alongside that are options like DNS leak protection, two kill switches and Onion over VPN, which all combine to create a seriously solid security solution.

It's not all work and no play with Nord, though, as it has great streaming power. You'll be able to unblock Netflix, iPlayer and more, plus other sites restricted by Etisalat and Du.

Great connection speeds mean that you won't be waiting around, and apps for pretty much every device allow you to stay protected wherever you are.

However, one of the few downsides is the design of the mobile apps. They retain the map-based interface from the desktop clients, but on smaller screens this doesn't work quite as well. This is a very minor issue, though, and one unlikely to cause any real problems.

Although not quite as well-rounded as ExpressVPN, NordVPN provides an excellent UAE VPN service that we highly recommend.

Surfshark on a range of devices

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3. Surfshark

fast and cheap UAE VPN

Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Unblocks: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Unbelievable value
Easy to use
Excellent Netflix and iPlayer unblocking
Unlimited connections
Minor kill switch issue on Windows

For many, Surfshark could provide the perfect UAE VPN experience – it's cheap, simple, and gets the job done. While you won't have quite as many in-depth features of Express or Nord, you'll still have good security and great speeds to browse day-to-day – read our Surfshark review for more.

Surfshark isn't weak by any means, and with AES-256 encryption, Double Hop and split tunnelling it actually offers a number of privacy features you wouldn't expect at this price-point – great for staying anonymous if you want to browse restricted sites.

For those looking to stream, Surfshark's also got you covered, and you'll be able to access Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and more. In fact, Surfshark's a better streaming VPN than many more expensive rivals.

Rounded off with simple, attractive apps, that's pretty much all you need to know about Surfshark – it's fully-featured, great for streaming and will keep you secure online. It might not be a super-configurable powerhouse, but many users don't need that. And, for less than $2.50 a month, we're not complaining.

Proton VPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)
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4. Proton VPN

Super secure with excellent speeds

Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Unblocks: Netflix, Prime Video, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 1,800+ | Maximum devices supported: 10

Great for streaming
Reliably fast speeds
Very privacy-focused service
Live chat isn't 24/7

Proton VPN has improved a ton since our last Proton VPN review, and now the Swiss privacy experts are contending with the best in the business. 

A good UAE VPN should have its users' privacy at its heart, and that's exactly what Proton VPN does. With open-source apps, a verified zero-logging policy and powerful features like its rock-solid Secure Core servers and Tor over VPN, whatever you need to do, Proton does its best to keep you anonymous.

What's more, Proton VPN is actually one of the few VPNs to have servers within the UAE. The company recommends connecting to these servers with the Secure Core feature (first routing you through a super secure server before connecting to the less secure UAE server), and that means that you can do all your day-to-day browsing in private with your VPN connected.

One downside is the fact that Proton's live chat isn't 24/7, meaning that you may have to wait around if something goes wrong. However, that's a small complaint – and if having the most private VPN is your prime objective, Proton VPN will be perfect.


(Image credit: VyprVPN)
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5. VyprVPN

Good speed and security

Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Unblocks: iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 700+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

Apps for everything
Verified zero-logging
Chameleon protocol is great for VPN-unfriendly locations
Prices have recently been hiked
Not many servers

While it's a smaller provider, in our VyprVPN review we found that it worked well in a number of different situations – and one of them is as a UAE VPN.

Like all the VPNs on this page but very few others, VyprVPN clearly states its ability to access restricted content. This commitment to help those in the UAE avoid censorship is a good sign, and means it should be diligent when maintaining the service. What's more, Vypr is also a great China VPN, a country which similarly restricts its citizens' internet access.

VyprVPN prioritises its users' security, and has been verified as a zero-logging VPN – that means the service never collects any data that can identify users, which is important for personal privacy online. You'll also get good connection speeds and VyprVPN is effective at unblocking pretty much every streaming service.

Compared to the rest on this list, VyprVPN isn't nearly as modern and polished, and a recent price hike has taken it from one of the cheapest VPN services to one of the most expensive. Plus, connection speeds are weak.

However, if you find that other providers don't do the job in the UAE, VyprVPN is definitely worth trying out.


Are VPNs illegal in UAE?

No. Having a VPN is not illegal in UAE. Businesses rely on them too much for the government to ban them outright.

However, using a VPN to access restricted content is a grey area, and those using a VPN for the "purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery" risk a fine of up to AED2,000,000 – equivalent to over $500,000.

It is, however, fairly safe to say that the UAE is more concerned about preventing terrorism and large-scale crime than it is about individuals accessing restricted content – and we can't find any evidence of anyone ever being prosecuted for that reason.

We do not condone using a VPN to break the law. We also believe in the freedom of information and the internet. If you choose to use a VPN, for whatever reason, it's important to assess the risks to see if you think it's worth it.

Why do you need a UAE VPN?

People use VPNs in UAE for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, internet access is censored and restricted, and a VPN can allow the user to access this content. 

Secondly – and probably the most common reason – is that Etisalat and Du hold a monopoly on the VoIP market, meaning free apps like Whatsapp and Messenger cannot be used to call people for free. A UAE VPN can allow individuals to use these free services for a much lower monthly cost compared to the state-sanctioned providers.

Thirdly, streaming. With a VPN you can access streaming media, including Netflix, live sports, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more. This is especially useful for expats as media from their home country is likely to be blocked. A VPN can virtually relocate them back home and give them access to this media.

What VPNs work in UAE?

Other than ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, Hotspot Shield and VyprVPN, not many. Thanks to the UAE's tough restrictions on VPN usage, many VPN providers – including larger ones – have been effectively disabled. While they're great in the rest of the world, in the UAE and Dubai they simply don't work.

The five on this list mostly work thanks to obfuscated servers that can evade VPN detection. This basically means that anyone inspecting web traffic won't be able to tell that a certain connection is using a VPN.

While some other providers may work, we believe these five offers citizens and travellers the best chance at accessing what they want to when in the UAE.

Can you get a free UAE VPN for Dubai?

If you want a free UAE VPN, you should take a look at our rundown of the best free VPN services. However, from this list of the best UAE VPNs, only Hotspot Shield offers a free service.

We'd highly recommend using a paid-for service in countries like the UAE that have strict censorship laws. This is because in most cases you'll want to have your VPN switched on all of the time, and free services almost always come with data limits – Hotspot Shield is generous with 500MB a day, while TunnelBear provides a tiny 500MB a month.

Also, paid-for VPNs give you the widest selection or servers, and you can be absolutely sure that they'll consistently unblock sites. While a no-fee VPN might not cost any money, it might not work properly and, at worst, leak your information and compromise your online privacy.

Finally, all the best Dubai VPNs on this list offer at least 30-day money-back guarantees, so even though you will have to pay to get access, you'll be able to get your money back within 30 days if the service turns out not to be for you – no questions asked.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.