ExpressVPN not working in Dubai

Using a VPN in Dubai is one of the best ways to get past its geo-restrictions. However, you may encounter some issues, like ExpressVPN not working in Dubai.

While ExpressVPN is usually one of the best VPNs to get past strict blocks, Dubai’s internet service providers (ISPs) Etisalat and Du may have identified you’re using ExpressVPN and blocked access.

It’s an annoying situation, especially if you already have an ExpressVPN subscription. Not to worry, though; while we recommend switching to another reliable VPN, there are a few fixes you can try out first.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to fix ExpressVPN not working in Dubai. If nothing works, read on for our list of the best VPNs for Dubai.

ExpressVPN not working in Dubai: Quick Fix

Before considering upgrading to another VPN service, try these simple fixes below to see if you can get ExpressVPN working in Dubai again.

Total Time: 5 minutes

  1. Check if your VPN works on another device

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    If ExpressVPN works in Dubai on your smartphone, but not your computer, then you know ExpressVPN isn’t the problem. If ExpressVPN does work on one device, jump to Step 3 below.

  2. Contact your VPNs live chat service

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    A great way to get to the root of the problem is to contact ExpressVPN’s support. Find ExpressVPN’s Live Chat feature and ask for a specific issue with ExpressVPN in Dubai. If they can’t point you towards a solution or a server that works in Dubai, then you know that ExpressVPN is having issues.

  3. Delete your cookies

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    Deleting your cookies can potentially fix ExpressVPN not working in Dubai. Accumulated or corrupted cookies in a browser might interfere with the way websites and online services function, especially when using a VPN.

    Clearing these cookies removes any old or problematic data, thereby ensuring a cleaner slate for your VPN connection to operate. This can help in establishing a more stable connection and resolving conflicts between ExpresVPN and Dubai’s ISPs.

  4. Reinstall or update your VPN

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    Trying updating and reinstalling ExpressVPN on your device. This will give you the most up-to-date settings ExpressVPN has to offer, which may fix a bug or issues with the service working in Dubai.

  5. Switch VPN protocols

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    VPN protocols determine how ExpressVPN works. When you use a VPN, the protocol is responsible for hiding your data and rerouting it via VPN servers. If ExpressVPN isn’t working in Dubai, it might be because the protocol you’re using is no longer working with the service.

    ExpressVPN has three protocols, including its own fast and secure Lightway protocol. Try changing to a different one to see if that fixes the issue.

  6. Upgrade your VPN

    ExpressVPN not working with Omegle

    If nothing seems to be working or you can’t access ExpressVPN to make these fixes, you should consider upgrading to another high-end VPN.

    We recommend NordVPN in Dubai when ExpressVPN isn’t working. For more information, check out our VPN list below to see which VPN suits your needs and budget.

Why isn’t ExpressVPN working in Dubai?

The United Arab Emirates is a region that enforces censorship and control over internet access. The government of Dubai has strict regulations regarding internet usage, including the use of VPNs, and actively blocks VPN traffic.

ISPs in Dubai, including Etisalat and Du, employ advanced techniques to detect and block VPN traffic. With this in mind, ExpressVPN’s servers might be identified and subsequently blocked by these measures.

ExpressVPN may not have optimized servers or protocols to bypass the sophisticated censorship measures in Dubai. Some VPN providers have specific servers or features designed to circumvent such restrictions, but ExpressVPN’s current infrastructure may not be effective in this regard.

Certain internet actions are restricted, including using VoIP calling, dating websites, visiting pornographic websites, viewing LGBT content, viewing content critical of the UAE government or Islam, and even the game Roblox is blocked.

Because ExpressVPN is a well-known way of getting around these blocks, Etisalat and Du have been tasked with blocking VPNs in Dubai.

How does Etisalat and Du block ExpressVPN?

Etisalat and Du, the two major telecommunication companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), employ various techniques to block VPNs like ExpressVPN.

These include the following:

  • Deep Packet Inspection (DPI): Etisalat and Du use DPI to inspect data packets passing through their networks. By analyzing the data packets, they can identify VPN traffic based on certain characteristics, such as encryption protocols commonly used by VPNs. Once identified, they can block or throttle this traffic.
  • Blacklisting IP Addresses: Etisalat and Du maintain lists of IP addresses associated with VPN servers. When they detect connections to these IP addresses, they block them. VPN providers often operate multiple servers, so Etisalat and Du continuously update their lists to include new servers as they become known.
  • Blocking VPN Websites: Etisalat and Du block access to the websites of VPN providers, making it difficult for users to download VPN software or obtain information about VPN services.
  • Application Layer Filtering: In some cases, Etisalat and Du may use application layer filtering to detect VPN traffic based on patterns specific to VPN protocols. This allows them to block VPN connections at a more granular level.
  • Legal Restrictions: The UAE government has laws and regulations in place that prohibit the use of VPNs for certain activities, such as accessing blocked content or circumventing government censorship. Etisalat and Du may enforce these restrictions by actively blocking VPN usage and penalizing individuals found to be violating these laws.

Because ExpressVPN is popular in Dubai, there are a lot of customers using its service. ExpressVPN struggles to keep up with this demand, and it forces its customers to share IP addresses.

Do VPNs still work in Dubai?

Yes, VPNs still work in Dubai, but their effectiveness can vary. As explained, the UAE government, through its telecommunication regulatory authorities and internet service providers like Etisalat and Du, actively monitors and restricts VPN usage.

However, some VPNs can stay one step ahead of Dubai’s VPN blocks better than others. With the help of VPN protocols and advanced security features, a service can get past these blocks.

For example, NordVPN uses its own protocol, NordLynx, designed to be super fast and incredibly secure, and this protocol makes it a very good VPN for getting around Etisalat and Du’s VPN blocks.

NordLynx introduces a new double NAT (Network Address Translation) system that authenticates users through a secure external database. Where most VPNs share the users actual IP address with their VPN server. Nord’s double NAT system means your actual IP is never required.

This system also gives each user a new random IP address for every session on top of the static IP address provided. This will allow customers to connect to NordVPN without sharing any personally identifiable information on any of Nord’s servers.

While access isn’t guaranteed, VPNs like NordVPN and a few others have a good chance at getting past these blocks. We recommend taking advantage of a VPN service’s free trial period to see if it works in Dubai.

Best VPNs to use in Dubai

1. NordVPN

An excellent, affordable, and fast VPN option for 2024

  • Affordable pricing
  • Effective streaming access
  • Diverse server types
  • Solid speeds
  • Useful add-ons
  • Strong security
  • Limited server locations
  • No virtual servers
NordVPN

Streaming: NordVPN is highly effective for bypassing geo-restrictions and has the right tools to get past Dubai’s VPN blocks. It has shown consistent success in connecting to various streaming services without noticeable issues.

Servers: NordVPN’s server network spans 60 countries, and it even has servers in Dubai, making it easy to get past blocks. Its physical servers ensure faster and more reliable connections.

Privacy: NordVPN’s secure connection and no-logs policy have been verified via three independent audits, including one by Deloitte. The audits have confirmed NordVPN’s adherence to its no-logs policy, ensuring user privacy.

Price: NordVPN offers three pricing plans: Complete, Plus, and Standard. The 2-year plan for the Standard package is priced at $3.19/month, the 1-year plan at $4.99/month, and the monthly plan at $12.99/month. It accepts major credit cards and various payment systems.

Speeds: Below is a table showing the speeds tested for NordVPN. From our tests in New Zealand, NordVPN displayed very good speeds, although slightly behind ExpressVPN, but significantly faster than many other VPNs on the market.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)937.07520.93
NordVPN US server710.906.98
NordVPN UK server531.123.73

Read our full NordVPN review.

Special Offer for you!

(30-day money-back guarantee)

2. Private Internet Access

Affordable and secure VPN with wide device compatibility

  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Unlimited simultaneous devices
  • Extra features like ad blocker and email protection
  • Verified no-log policy
  • Compatible with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu
  • High use of virtual servers
  • Not as fast as top-tier VPNs
  • Lacks proprietary protocol options
PIA

Streaming: Private Internet Access is known to be able to work successfully in Dubai, along with streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. It may struggle with some web services, like BBC iPlayer, but these were resolved after some fixes.

Servers: PIA has over 35,000 servers in 84 countries, including in the UAE. It has plenty of servers to work with. However, 50% of these servers are virtual, impacting reliability compared to VPNs with more physical servers.

Privacy: PIA’s app is open-source, inviting third-party scrutiny and verification. It has also passed an independent no-log policy audit conducted by Deloitte, affirming its commitment to privacy.

Price: PIA offers three subscription options: 1-month at $11.95/month, 1-year at $3.33/month (upfront cost $39.95), and 3-year at $2.03/month (upfront fee $79). Payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and Amazon payments.

Speeds: Speed tests for PIA showed significant drops in download speeds across various servers. While using WireGuard protocol, speeds were faster than OpenVPN but still slower compared to top-tier VPNs like ExpressVPN.

OpenVPN Download Speeds (Mbps)OpenVPN Upload Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Download Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off (New Zealand)930516
PIA US server238.527.17300.658.65
PIA UK server2453.77315.787.23
PIA Vietnam server4456.554898.24

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

Special Offer for you!

(30-day money-back guarantee)

3. Surfshark

Affordable and secure VPN with unlimited device policy of 2024

  • Attractive pricing for long-term subscriptions
  • Supports unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Robust security and privacy
  • 24/7 responsive chat support
  • Extensive server network in 100 countries
  • Has trouble with services like Hulu
  • Lacks a unique proprietary protocol
  • App can be overwhelming
  • Not the fastest among competitors
Surfshark

Streaming: Surfshark performs well with most streaming services but faces challenges with some, like Hulu. That said, it has the resources to fix any issues you come across, including blocks in Dubai.

Servers: Surfshark boasts a strong server network with 3,300+ servers in 100 countries. To get past the UAE government’s strict blocks, it uses obfuscated servers to make it look like you’re not using a VPN. It includes both physical and virtual servers, providing extensive geographic coverage.

Privacy: Surfshark emphasizes its commitment to privacy with successful DNS leak tests and independent security audits by Cure53, ensuring robust online security and privacy. You can find more about their security audits here.

Price: Surfshark offers a 1-month option costing $12.95/month, a 12-month option at $3.99/month, and a 24-month option at $2.49/month. It accepts major credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and various cryptocurrencies.

Speeds: Below is a table that gives you an idea of the speed performance when using Surfshark. From our tests, we observed decent speeds, suitable for general use, but not the fastest compared to some rivals.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)940.55520.24
Surfshark US server775.96.15
Surfshark UK server587.793.79

Read our full Surfshark review.

Special Offer for you!

(30-day money-back guarantee)

4. CyberGhost

Affordable and secure VPN with extensive server coverage

  • Features NoSpy servers, a Killswitch, and split tunnelling
  • Attractive pricing for long-term subscriptions
  • Over 9,000 servers in 91 countries
  • Independent audit confirms no-logs policy
  • 7-device coverage
  • Not optimal for streaming due to speed issues
  • Majority of servers are virtual
  • Lacks a proprietary protocol
Cyberghost

Streaming: CyberGhost allows access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, even in Dubai. However, users may face slow speeds, leading to buffering and resolution issues, which can be a significant downside for streaming.

Servers: CyberGhost boasts over 9,000 servers in 91 countries. More importantly, it offers 12 servers in Dubai, making it a good bet to get past blocks. Keep in mind that 54% of all its servers are virtual, a factor that can affect performance and reliability.

Privacy: CyberGhost has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited by Deloitte, ensuring user privacy and security. This audit confirms that CyberGhost does not keep records of users’ online activities while using the VPN.

Price: CyberGhost offers three payment options: a 1-month subscription at $12.99/month, a 6-month subscription at $6.99/month, and a 2-year subscription at $2.19/month, which includes an extra two months for free.

Speeds: Speed tests conducted in New Zealand showed significant drops in both download and upload speeds across various servers when using CyberGhost, indicating a performance issue in terms of speed.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)930516
CyberGhost US server192.292.63
CyberGhost UK server139.191.90
CyberGhost Vietnam server232.244.32

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Special Offer for you!

(30-day money-back guarantee)

ExpressVPN not working in Dubai: FAQ

Q: Does ExpressVPN work in Dubai?

Answer: While ExpressVPN usually is one of the best VPN services to use in the UAE, it may sometimes come across issues that need to be fixed. If you’re unable to access it, we recommend using an alternative VPN like NordVPN.

Q: Is ExpressVPN illegal in Dubai?

Answer: Using a VPN like ExpressVPN in Dubai is not inherently illegal, but there are restrictions and regulations regarding VPN usage in the UAE, which includes Dubai. Using it to circumvent government-imposed restrictions or engage in illegal activities may violate local laws and could result in penalties, including fines and imprisonment. However, using the right VPN will make sure a Dubai ISP never knows you’re using the service.

Q: Which VPN works in Dubai?

Answer: A majority of free VPNs and lesser VPNs won’t work in Dubai most of the time. However, some VPNs have been consistently successful, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. They often have dedicated servers or features designed to bypass geo-blocks.

Q: What should I do if only one of my devices can’t access ExpressVPN in Dubai?

Answer: If ExpressVPN works on one device but not another, it likely means there’s a device configuration issue. Check VPN settings on the problematic device, clear its cache, and ensure location services are off (for mobile devices).

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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