Etisalat homepage screenshot

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.

UAE blocked website

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.

Short for “Virtual Private Network”, a VPN 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. 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 are also blocked. Our research has narrowed down the options to 3 VPNs. 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 unblock restricted content in 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)

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.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN homepage screenshot

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Etisalat and the UAE. In fact, we’ve found it to be an ideal VPN to use around the world. With over 2000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has one of the largest server networks around. This means you’ll be able to unblock geo-restricted content 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 can unblock on Etisalat include Netflix, Amazon Prime, 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 or indeed in unblocking any website or app, 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 with legal consequences for accessing content deemed inappropriate or illegal. ExpressVPN features 256-bit AES encryption – 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.

Pros:

  • Unblocks lots of popular streaming services
  • Fast and consistent connection speeds
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • User-friendly apps
  • Excellent overall security with encryption

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than most VPNs

BEST VPN FOR ETISALAT:ExpressVPN is our top recommendation. It offers fast speeds for downloading and streaming and is excellent at unblocking content in the UAE including Netflix and Skype.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN new homepage

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 62 countries, this VPN allows you to unblock geo-restricted content all over the world. NordVPN can help you access 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, 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.

Pros:

  • Huge network of over 5,000 servers
  • Fast and reliable connections
  • 6 devices can connect via one account
  • Strong security with a no logs policy

Cons:

  • Some unreliable servers

EXCELLENT SECURITY:NordVPN offers excellent security features, has a huge network of servers worldwide and can be used on up to 6 devices simultaneously.

Read our full NordVPN review.

3. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN homepage screenshot

PrivateVPN is a smaller VPN provider that still works well with Etisalat. Despite having a smaller network of around 100 servers, these are located around the world in an impressive 57 countries. PrivateVPN has consistently found ways around anti-VPN measures. As such, you can use PrivateVPN to unblock 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 in 1080p 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), a 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.

Pros:

  • Very fast and consistent performance
  • Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc
  • Allows up to 6 devices on a single account
  • Secure VPN with 256-bit AES encryption

Cons:

  • Fewer servers than many VPNs
  • Live chat isn’t usually available

FAST SPEEDS:PrivateVPN offers fast speeds for HD streaming, unblocks Netflix and Skype and has a zero data logging policy.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

Is it legal to use a VPN in UAE?

It is 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 a number of reasons why we advise against using free VPNs, particularly in the UAE:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 around the world, often in dozens of countries.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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.