Because your ISP is likely to completely block VPN access, you must use custom protocols specifically designed to hide VPN connection. To reiterate, OpenVPN will NOT work unless it’s obfuscated to look like normal HTTPS traffic. Please read our guide in full to successfully use VPN in Iran, Syria, UAE and similar restrictive countries.
Additionally, even though VPN providers listed below can effectively bypass Internet restrictions in the Middle East, their websites and apps might be inaccessible from within those countries. Please setup VPN before you arrive.
Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Oman, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Turkey and other countries in the Middle East are known to have some of the strictest internet censorship laws in the world.
Some Middle Eastern governments force ISPs to use advanced filtering methods to block VPN protocols as well as a large number of top international websites and services that are deemed unfit for the muslim world. Not only Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Telegram, Skype are not accessible, but also Wikipedia and even Google.
VPN uses tunnelling protocols most popular of which are OpenVPN, WireGuard and IPsec. Governments in Iran and Syria also force ISPs to use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) method on a country-wide scale. Since encrypted connections are different from regular ones, they are quickly recognised by Islamic government and get instantly blocked. For this reason most VPN providers are either unreliable or don’t work at all.
There are, however, VPN providers that actively fight DPI and offer tools that obfuscate OpenVPN to make it appear as regular HTTPS traffic to the ISPs. HTTPS traffic looks like regular Internet browsing and, therefore, doesn’t raise any suspicion. For this reason, obfuscation tools can bypass even the strictest filtering methods and open access to unrestricted Internet anywhere in the world, including Iran, Syria, UAE.
Obfuscation tools are generally also undetectable so your ISP will not even know you are using VPN. Some VPNs are slow, unreliable, or even unsafe. Other VPNs may not work well in the Middle East or may be blocked by the authorities. That’s why you need to choose a VPN that is fast, secure, and reliable. For this reason in our Best VPN for Middle East guide, we recommend only VPN services with obfuscated VPN servers.
ANNUAL PRICE: 3.49 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 11.95 USD
Panama based NordVPN is one of the best security oriented VPN companies with amazingly fast infrastructure. NordVPN is a no logs VPN service that was independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG based in Zurich, Switzerland (one of the Big 4 auditing firms) to back the claims that they don’t log identifiable user information under any circumstances. Additionally, NordVPN offers a Double VPN – a privacy feature that sends your Internet traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice.
NordVPN is a trusted and reputable VPN provider with over 5,000 servers in 62 countries, dedicated & shared IP types, and 6 simultaneous logins. When it comes to the Middle East, NordVPN has servers in the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Turkey. So if you need a Middle Eastern IP address, NordVPN is a perfect choice as you can connect to one of these VPN servers.
NordVPN also has advanced features like CyberSec, which blocks ads and malware, and Obfuscated Servers, which disguise your VPN traffic as regular traffic.
With NordVPN, you can access any website or service you want, no matter where you are. You can stream Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more with ease. You can also use social media, messaging apps, and VoIP services without any restrictions. NordVPN works on all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and more. You can connect up to 6 devices with one account.
NordVPN Obfsproxy servers not only unblock VPN on strict firewalls, they also hide OpenVPN and make your VPN use completely undetectable. Neither your ISP nor the government will know that you are using VPN.
NordVPN can, therefore, bypass Internet restrictions, online censorship and network firewalls. NordVPN can unblock Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other blocked websites.
Besides, NordVPN has a Smart Play technology offering an encrypted connection to access geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and similar services. If you are a torrenting user, NordVPN has torrenting VPN servers as well.
To read a full NordVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 3.33 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 10.95 USD
PureVPN is a no logs VPN service with an Always-On Audit. This means that KPMG can conduct a thorough surprise audit of PureVPN’s processes and servers at any time without prior notice.
PureVPN has 2,000 high-speed VPN servers in 140 countries with obfuscated VPN servers that remove all of the VPN information from your data packets, so your ISP has no idea you’re using a VPN. Secure high-speed PureVPN infrastructure offers advanced security features for anonymous Internet use. PureVPN custom apps have a built-in WebRTC, IP and DNS leak protection. Kill switch is feature that guards the users from unencrypted data leaks when the internet connection drops. PureVPN even has a DDoS protection add-on.
PureVPN has a port forwarding feature that allows you to forward your encrypted VPN traffic through port 443 (typically reserved for encrypted browsing). PureVPN, thus, can unblock restricted websites and bypass Internet censorship.
Additionally, the provider considered the importance of uninterrupted streaming by introducing Dedicated Streaming add-on that will boost streaming speed and enhance performance. PureVPN optimized streaming servers are best to get a buffer-free streaming experience.
PureVPN is also one of the few VPN providers that can effectively unblock Netflix. For this purpose PureVPN setup dedicated Netflix servers. At the moment the provider can unblock Netflix USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan.
In case you want to limit your VPN use to specific websites/services only, Split Tunneling feature lets you decide which applications to send through unencrypted channel and which one to secure with an encrypted VPN service.
Split tunneling is commonly used in case you need a VPN for torrenting only. More so, PureVPN offers over 60 dedicated torrenting servers and a port forwarding feature to maximize your upload and download speeds.
To read a full PureVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.49 USD/mo [promocode]
MONTHLY PRICE: 8.99 USD
Offering over 3,000 servers in 55 countries, all mainstream protocols and top-notch security, TorGuard rightfully earned its place as a top VPN provider. To get a Middle Eastern IP address, TorGuard offers VPN servers in Israel and UAE.
No logs TorGuard is a reliable, fast and secure VPN service. TorGuard desktop apps have a kill switch feature that actively monitors your Internet connection to protect you from accidental IP leaks when your WiFi is unstable.
Stealth VPN is a technology that TorGuard uses to bypass Deep Packet Inspection firewalls, such as those typically used by restrictive governments to censor and restrict online content. Consequently, TorGuard is a highly recommended VPN service for users who live in the regions with particularly restrictive governments, and would like to unblock censored websites or services.
Besides a great number of security features and ability to unblock VPN on restrictive WiFi, TorGuard is also an ultra fast VPN service with gigabit servers (actually, 10 Gbps). This infrastructure allows the fastest VPN speeds with a reliable streaming and browsing experience.
Unlike most VPN providers, TorGuard VPN can bypass Netflix proxy error with their Netflix streaming IPs. TorGuard can unblock a number of Netflix regions (USA, UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and Singapore), Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and virtually any streaming or social media service.
TorGuard is not only one of the best VPN services, it also offers OpenPGP encrypted email service with 2 factor authentication and up to 10Mb free storage.
To read a full TorGuard review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 2.59 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 9.95 USD
Based in Malaysia, Hide.me is one the most secure and fastest VPN providers offering ultra fast gigabit VPN servers that deliver the fastest VPN speeds for users on gigabit Internet connection.
Hide.me is a no logs VPN service with gigabit VPN servers. Hide.Me VPN is extremely reliable and very fast which makes it a perfect choice for security oriented users who would like to enjoy uninterrupted streaming and browsing experience. The provider can unblock censored content and bypass local government restrictions.
Hide.Me is has advanced VPN masking tools to bypass strict firewalls and censorship. Hide.Me masks (obfuscates) OpenVPN traffic with TLS-Crypt so, if your WiFi network blocks VPN by analyzing traffic patterns, this methods can bypass the most advanced firewalls. The technology also encrypts every OpenVPN packet twice, sort of like Double VPN encryption.
Additionally, the provider offers a dynamic TCP/UDP port-forwarding (UPnP) with up to 10 TCP/UDP ports, a useful feature on WiFi networks that block VPN ports.
Hide.Me custom VPN apps have a number of advanced features for maximum protection. Hide.Me VPN has a built-in protection against IP and DNS leaks. Kill switch is an excellent tool to shut down Internet access when the connection to a VPN server is dropped. Stealth Guard takes this even further by blocking access to predetermined apps even when the VPN is OFF.
For instance, once you add Chrome app to your Stealth Guard settings, Hide.Me app will block Internet access for Chrome browser unless the VPN connection has been established.
Hide.Me supports perfect forward secrecy, an advanced security feature that tells OpenVPN to regularly renegotiate encryption keys.
Hide.Me is one of the best VPN services to use since it has advanced VPN masking tools to bypass strict firewalls and censorship. Hide.Me masks (obfuscates) OpenVPN traffic with TLS-Crypt so, if your WiFi network blocks VPN by analyzing traffic patterns, this methods can bypass the most advanced firewalls. The technology also encrypts every OpenVPN packet twice, sort of like Double VPN encryption.
More so, you can selectively tunnel only specific traffic via secure servers. Split tunneling feature allows this or, alternatively, SOCKS5 proxy can be setup on your browser/torrenting client and re-route only that traffic. Port forwarding feature is a great addition as it can speed up torrenting or streaming when your ISP throttles select traffic.
To read a full Hide.me review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 9.99 EUR/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.99 EUR
Perfect Privacy is an ultra fast (gigabit servers) VPN provider with a heavy focus on advanced online security. As the name suggests, Perfect Privacy VPN has some of the most secure VPN features for maximum anonymity.
For the fastest browsing experience, you can choose between a multitude of VPN servers. But like we mentioned above, the provider’s focus is not the amount of servers they own, it’s security, privacy and complete anonymity.
Perfect Privacy has one of the best and most advanced kill switch implementations. Their integrated firewall enforces all traffic to be sent through secure tunnels thereby protecting their users from all known IP leaks not only when the app is running, but also after OS reboot. Essentially, it prevents unsecured online access when you restart your device until the VPN is up and running.
In addition, Perfect Privacy offers a unique Multi-Hop VPN feature that allows cascading over up to 4 OpenVPN servers at the same time along with SOCKS5 and Squid proxies. So you can create a chain of 6 VPN locations at the same time which basically eliminates any possibility of tracking you down. While this setup surely provides more anonymity, it will dramatically slow you down, which may be an issue for some VPN users.
Perfect Privacy can bypass strict firewalls by obfuscating OpenVPN to look like normal HTTPS traffic with Stealth VPN or OpenVPN over SSH fearure. For additional firewall penetration Perfect Privacy allows 5 custom port forwardings or 3 default random ports.
Basically, if your WiFi network completely blocks VPN, Perfect Privacy can bypass firewall and unblock VPN on virtually any network.
NeuroRouting is an AI based routing that determines the most secure and fastest route through the Internet. It also automatically changes your external VPN IP address depending on the destination. Another fantastic anonymity feature is the provider’s ability to resolve .onion (TOR) addresses without the need for the Tor Browser.
Overall, Perfect Privacy VPN is a perfect tool to avoid mass surveillance, bypass internet restrictions, access censored websites, and securely stream multimedia content.
To read a full Perfect Privacy review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.50 EUR/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 7 EUR
AirVPN is an Italian VPN provider created by privacy activists whose main goal is data protection. AirVPN has over 200 servers in 23 countries that have Perfect Forward Secrecy through Diffie-Hellman key exchange DHE. Essentially key negotiation is performed every 60 minutes to avoid data breach if the key is compromised. AirVPN offers OpenVPN dynamic port forwarding on 80 TCP/UDP, 443 TCP/UDP and 53 TCP/UDP. Additionally, AirVPN offers OpenVPN over SSH and OpenVPN over SSL that mask OpenVPN and make the use of encryption tools invisible to some of the most advanced firewalls. To read a full AirVPN review click HERE.
Internet Censorship in the Middle East
Internet censorship in the Middle East is a complex and controversial issue that affects millions of people. The governments of many countries in the region have imposed various a href=”https://www.article19.org/resources/middle-east-and-north-africa-regional-overview-of-digital-rights/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>forms of restrictions on the access and use of online information and communication technologies, such as blocking websites, filtering content, monitoring online activities, arresting bloggers and activists, and imposing cyber laws that criminalize dissent and criticism.
The main reasons for these measures are often related to political, religious, social, and security concerns, as well as economic interests and international pressures. However, these practices also violate the fundamental rights of expression, access to information, and privacy of the citizens, and have negative impacts on the development of civil society, democracy, education, culture, and innovation in the region.
When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through this server, which masks your IP address and location. This way, you can appear as if you are browsing from a different country, where the websites and services you want to access are not blocked. A VPN also protects your online privacy and security by preventing anyone from spying on your online activities or stealing your personal data.
Using a VPN can help you overcome internet censorship in the Middle East:
- Access social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, which are often blocked or restricted by the authorities.
- Read news and blogs from independent sources that are censored or banned by the government or ISPs.
- Communicate with your friends, family, and colleagues using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and Skype, which are sometimes blocked or monitored.
- Express your views and opinions without fear of retaliation or persecution.
- Watch streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+, which are not available or have limited content in some countries.
However, using a VPN is not without risks or challenges. Some countries have laws that prohibit or regulate the use of VPNs, and may impose fines or penalties for violating them. Some VPNs may also be blocked or detected by sophisticated firewalls. Therefore, it is important to choose a reliable and trustworthy VPN provider that offers high-quality service, strong encryption, fast speed, and no-logs policy.
What VPN is best for the Middle East
Internet censorship in the Middle East is a serious issue that affects millions of people, as many governments have imposed various forms of restrictions. Some of the methods used include filtering content based on political, religious, or moral grounds, blocking websites or applications, arresting or harassing online activists, and shutting down the internet entirely. These practices violate the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, information, and association that are guaranteed by international human rights law.
For the reasons above, the best VPN for the Middle East must have the following features:
- Fast and stable servers in many countries in the Middle East or nearby regions.
- Strong encryption and security protocols to protect your data and identity.
- A strict no-logs policy to ensure your online activity is not recorded or shared with anyone.
- A kill switch and leak protection to prevent your IP address from being exposed if the VPN connection drops.
- A large network of obfuscated servers that can disguise your VPN traffic as regular traffic and avoid detection by firewalls and Deep Packet Inspection.
- A 24/7 customer support team that can help you with any issues or questions.
- A money-back guarantee or a free trial to test the service before committing.
Considerations for using VPN in the Middle East
While VPNs are are great to access geo-restricted content, protect online privacy, and bypass censorship, using VPN in the Middle East may pose some challenges and risks that you should be aware of.
One of the main issues is that VPNs are illegal or restricted in some countries in the Middle East, such as Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. This means that you could face fines, imprisonment, or even death if you are caught using VPN in these countries. Therefore, you should always check the local laws and regulations before using VPN in the Middle East.
Another issue is that VPNs may not work well or at all in some countries in the Middle East due to technical limitations or government interference. For example, some countries may block or throttle VPN traffic, use deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect and disrupt VPN connections, or require ISPs to register and monitor VPN users. Therefore, you should always choose a reliable and reputable VPN provider that offers strong encryption, obfuscation, and kill switch features to avoid detection and disruption.
In conclusion, using VPN in the Middle East can be beneficial, but you should always weigh the pros and cons of using VPN in the Middle East and take precautions to protect yourself from legal and technical issues.