VPN not working in the UAE

If you’re trying to use a VPN in the UAE and it’s not working, your VPN is probably being blocked by the UAE telecommunications companies, Etisalat and Du.

I’ve tried a few VPNs in the UAE and only a handful of them actually allowed me to connect to their servers. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do if the VPN you own isn’t working in the UAE.

Basically, the only way to fix your VPN not working in the UAE is to use a VPN that is able to beat the VPN blocks imposed by Etisalat and Du.

In this article we’ll explain why your VPN isn’t working in the UAE and give you a list of what we think are the best VPNs for the UAE.

How to fix VPN not working in the UAE

Total Time: 2 minutes

  1. Create a new account with ExpressVPN or NordVPN

    VPN not working in the UAE

    Register for an account with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. If you want the very best, these VPNs have been setting the standard in the industry for years. They’re the best VPNs on the market for reliably streaming content.

    ExpressVPN and NordVPN are renowned for their reliable and fast connections, which is crucial for streaming high-quality content without buffering or interruptions. You can get 3 months of an ExpressVPN subscription for free here. And similarly, you can get 3 months of a NordVPN subscription for free here.

    If you don’t like the looks of ExpressVPN or NordVPN, and opt for a different VPN, the process will be very similar, simply continue following the steps below.

  2. Download and install the new VPN app

    VPN not working in the UAE

    Once you’ve signed up for a VPN you can install it on nearly any device.

    ExpressVPN and NordVPN are available on Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Kindle, Amazon Fire Stick/TV, Chromecast, Nintendo Switch, Android TV and more.

  3. Open your VPN and connect to a server

    VPN not working in the UAE

    When you open the app, you’ll need to log in with the credentials you created. Once logged in, select a server, this will give you an IP address from that country. Essentially making it look like you’re connecting to the internet from within the country.

    This will allow you to use the internet anonymously in the UAE.

Why isn’t my VPN working in the UAE?

If your VPN isn’t working in the UAE, there could be several reasons for this:

  1. Governmental VPN Blocking: The UAE government employs advanced technology to detect and block VPN usage. This is part of broader efforts to control internet access and enforce content restrictions, ensuring that only approved content is accessible within the country.
  2. Advanced Detection Techniques: The UAE uses sophisticated methods to identify VPN traffic, including deep packet inspection (DPI). DPI allows authorities to examine the data passing through their networks at a granular level, enabling them to detect and block encrypted VPN traffic.
  3. Outdated or Detectable VPN Protocols: Some VPN protocols are easier for DPI systems to detect and block. Older or less secure protocols may no longer be effective in bypassing the stringent internet filters employed by the UAE.
  4. Specific VPN Server Blacklisting: The UAE authorities actively monitor and block the IP addresses associated with VPN servers. As a result, even if a VPN might initially work, its servers can quickly get blacklisted, rendering the service ineffective.

How does my VPN get blocked in the UAE?

In the UAE, major internet providers like Etisalat and Du play a significant role in implementing the country’s internet restrictions, including the blocking of VPN services. These providers use a combination of regulatory compliance, advanced technology, and specific strategies to detect and block VPN traffic. Here’s how it happens:

  1. Regulatory Compliance: Both Etisalat and Du are required to comply with UAE’s telecommunications regulations, which include the prohibition or control of VPN usage to prevent access to banned content or services. This compliance involves actively monitoring their networks for VPN traffic and blocking access to known VPN servers.
  2. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI): Etisalat and Du utilize DPI technology, which allows them to analyze all internet traffic passing through their networks. DPI can examine the data packets in detail, including their origin, destination, and the type of protocol they use. This enables the ISPs to identify and filter out VPN traffic, especially if the VPN uses easily detectable protocols.
  3. IP Blocking: VPN services typically operate by routing your internet traffic through servers located in different countries. Etisalat and Du maintain databases of known IP addresses associated with VPN servers and block these IPs, preventing users from connecting to VPN servers.
  4. Port Blocking: VPNs use specific ports to establish connections. By monitoring and blocking the ports commonly used by VPN protocols (like the default ports for OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, etc.), Etisalat and Du can further restrict VPN use.
  5. Traffic Pattern Analysis: Even when VPN traffic is encrypted, it can exhibit patterns that distinguish it from regular internet traffic. By analyzing these patterns—such as consistent encryption or the volume and timing of data transfers—Etisalat and Du can infer VPN usage and implement blocks.
  6. Cooperation with VPN Providers: In some cases, ISPs may also work directly or indirectly with VPN providers. Some VPN services might restrict their operations in the UAE to comply with local laws, which can involve disabling their service or certain servers in the region.

Can I use a VPN in the UAE?

To use a VPN in the UAE, you need one that can overcome the country’s strict internet blocks. The UAE, with internet providers like Etisalat and Du, uses technology to find and block VPNs. This includes checking the data being sent over the internet to identify VPN use, blocking the addresses of VPN servers, and blocking the internet ports that VPNs use to connect.

For a VPN to work in the UAE, it must be designed to avoid these blocks. It should use the latest technology to hide its traffic, making it look like regular internet use, and regularly change its server addresses so they don’t get blocked. It should also use various internet ports to help ensure a connection can be made.

The VPNs we recommend for the UAE

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

Streaming: NordVPN is highly effective for bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. It has shown consistent success in connecting to various streaming services without noticeable issues.

Servers: NordVPN’s server network spans 60 countries. While this is below the average of 71 countries for the top 20 VPNs, its commitment to physical servers ensures 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.

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2. ExpressVPN

The fastest and most reliable VPN of 2024

  • Physical servers in 104 countries
  • Brilliant for unblocking streaming services
  • Very high-speed Lightway protocol
  • Available on almost any device
  • Very secure
  • Pricey
  • Only 8 simultaneous devices
  • No addons

Streaming: ExpressVPN excels in unblocking geo-restricted content and works seamlessly with streaming services, even in countries where VPNs are banned. It consistently performed well in tests with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and HBO Max.

Servers: ExpressVPN has a robust network with servers in 104 countries, significantly above the 71-country average. Less than 3% of these servers are virtual, ensuring a reliable and fast physical network.

Privacy: ExpressVPN’s privacy measures include passing independent audits by cybersecurity firms like Cure53 and F-Secure, ensuring a strong level of security and no significant weaknesses in its macOS, Linux, and Windows apps. More details can be found in the audit reports available online.

Price: ExpressVPN offers three payment plans: a 1-month option at $12.95/month, a 6-month option at $9.99/month, and a 12-month option at $6.67/month. Payment methods include major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other systems, accommodating a wide range of users.

Speeds: ExpressVPN maintains high download speeds with minimal drop-off, ensuring efficient performance. Tests showed a slight decrease in upload speeds, but download speeds remained fast across various server locations, including the US, UK, and Vietnam.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off937.07520.93
ExpressVPN US server824.626.96
ExpressVPN UK server794.953.70
ExpressVPN Vietnam server761.903.81

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Special Offer for you!

(30-day money-back guarantee)

VPN not working in the UAE: FAQs

Q: Why is my VPN connection failing in the UAE?

Answer: In the UAE, internet service providers such as Etisalat and Du use sophisticated technology to detect and block VPNs. This includes inspecting internet traffic to identify VPN use, leading to connection failures. A VPN that employs advanced techniques to disguise its traffic may be more successful.

Q: Are all VPNs blocked in the UAE?

Answer: Not all VPNs are blocked in the UAE, but many find it challenging to operate due to the country’s strict internet censorship policies. VPNs that continuously update their server addresses and use obfuscation techniques to hide their traffic are more likely to bypass blocks.

Q: Can I get in trouble for using a VPN in the UAE?

Answer: Using a VPN in the UAE is legal for legitimate purposes, such as securing your internet connection. However, using it to access prohibited content or for illegal activities can lead to legal repercussions.

Q: How do internet providers in the UAE detect VPN usage?

Answer: Internet providers in the UAE, like Etisalat and Du, employ deep packet inspection (DPI) and monitor for known VPN server IP addresses and traffic patterns that are indicative of VPN use. This allows them to detect and block VPN traffic effectively.

Q: What features should I look for in a VPN for use in the UAE?

Answer: For a VPN to work in the UAE, it should offer obfuscated servers that disguise VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, employ a variety of protocols to avoid detection, and regularly refresh its server IPs to evade blocks.

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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