The city of Dubai has more than three million inhabitants and is not only the capital of the Emirate of Dubai but also the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai and the UAE also have censorship of the Internet. Certain websites are blocked, therefore VPN access is used to bypass the blocks.
Why is VPN Access Useful in Dubai?
In Dubai, and generally in the United Arab Emirates, there are numerous restrictions that affect residents, as well as vacationers and business travellers. This is by no means a “secret censorship” in the UAE, but rather censorship of the Internet which the authorities handle openly.
In the country and also within Dubai, censorship of the nationwide regulatory authority is employed. At the same time, that authorities indicate which pages are blocked and for what reason—transparency that is rare in cases of censorship.
Many Well-Known Services and Sites Blocked
In Dubai, and generally in the entire country, for example, many VoIP services and information sites are blocked. These include:
- Several Wikipedia pages
- Specific search terms and content on Facebook and YouTube
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority states that content that “conflicts with the ethics and moral standards of the United Arab Emirates” is being blocked. These include:
- Pornographic content
- VoIP sites and VoIP services (such as Skype)
- Gambling content
- Content with anti-religious hate speech
- Content related to the distribution, production or sale of drugs
- Content in which the religious principles of Sharia are contradicted
- Several Wikipedia pages
- Israeli websites
Statistics about content blocking activities are published each year.
No Unrestricted Acces to Netflix Content and Co.
Anyone who streams knows the variety of series and films that are offered by Netflix and other services. In Dubai, however, it is not easy to enjoy unrestricted access to all content. Instead, much of the content is locked from a geographic perspective. Anyone who wants unrestricted use of
- Amazon Prime Video
- BBC iPlayer
must resort to a VPN service. According to statistics, residents of Dubai have access to only 20 percent of the Netflix content US residents have access to. No wonder so many residents in Dubai use a VPN service to expand the range of series and films.
Many Blocks Serve the Interests of Corporations
In Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, many blocks are based on the interests of companies. The economy in this country depends heavily on international business relations. Many residents who live and in Dubai especially are not Muslim.
For this reason, the laws that exist in the country are not necessarily enforced, especially in Dubai. In this way, the country accommodates its international business partners. Nevertheless, the censorship and its enforcement (as well as the prosecution thereof) may be consistently applied in the future.
For example, the UAE wants to protect its own telecommunications companies by blocking, for instance, VoIP and many messaging services (such as Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts). In this way, the profit does not go to free platforms but to their own country.
Instructions: Dubai VPN with Shellfire
If you have full access to the Internet and want to use streaming services without restriction, a VPN service is a good choice. This service is also an important aide when it comes to network anonymity.
Looking for a simple and simultaneously free way to establish a VPN connection on a particular device? Then we recommend the straightforward Shellfire VPN. You can download the software for free for
Thus you are on your way using any device secured with a VPN connection and at the same time access the blocked and restricted content in Dubai.
Not looking for a mobile solution? Then the Shellfire Box might be a better alternative. This is an easy-to-install hardware solution.
The Shellfire Box is easily set up, connected and you can quickly connect to a device of your choice. The VPN connection isn’t just enabled on classic devices, but if desired, also on TV-sticks or consoles; thus, no restrictions need to be accepted on any device.
Are VPN Legal or Illegal in Dubai?
Anyone who uses a VPN service in Dubai, or in the United Arab Emirates in general, is operating in a legal grey area. There are many rumours about what consequences threaten people who use a VPN service. The fact is, however, there is currently “only” one law from 2012 dedicated the cybercrime. It is stipulated that VPNs are prohibited if they are used to engage in activities illegal in the country. These include:
- Anti-Religious Content
For other activities, VPN services in Dubai are obviously tolerated since between 2012 and 2016 there were no or few restrictions on VPN websites by the regulatory authority.
Still, it is important that visitors to the country always remain up to date, as the laws in the United Arab Emirates change at any time and this law can be expanded accordingly again.
In the United Emirates, and therefore also in Dubai, Internet connections are controlled by an Etisalat subsidiary, eCompany. As a result, there are numerous restrictions, which, relate primarily to pornographic material, but also Jewish propaganda and content deemed morally, politically, culturally or religiously incompatible. Censorship is also carried out on topics such as computer sabotage, drugs, Internet calling, and others.
In Dubai, however, restrictions are usually religious, political or entrepreneurial. Since there are few VPN service gateways (other than criminal or illegal variants), it is reasonable to assume that this type of use (for example, full streaming of Netflix content) is tolerated by the government. Of course, it always depends on the individual, so there are no clear legal statements on the subjects.
Image Source: Zarai Hatem / 123RF