VPNs are becoming all the more commonplace in our everyday lives. Many people are choosing to get one for more privacy and security online, and to access sites which are not currently available to them. However, many people are also choosing to get hold of a VPN when they go abroad. This is incredibly important if you are heading to more conservative areas like the Middle East. Let’s take a look at why it is so important that you have a VPN when visiting countries like the UAE.
What Does a VPN Do?
A VPN, or a virtual private network, is a plug-in for your browser which routes your internet through several IP addresses in different countries. This means that you are impossible to track and any information which you might be inadvertently leaking. Your data is encrypted and private.
VPNs are becoming as essential to have on your computer as an anti-virus program. If you are concerned about where your data and information might be going, a VPN is the perfect solution to stopping it. They also allow us to access all sorts of sites and even watch TV shows from back home with minimal effort.
Internet in the Middle East
Middle Eastern countries actively use the internet in all its forms, from social media to e-commerce and beyond. In the more developed cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you can often find high-speed internet and good coverage from Wi-Fi hotspots and in hotels. However, that does not mean that you should be able to browse as freely as if you were at home.
It is quite common for sites to be blocked in the Middle East. The Telecom Regulatory Authority has complete control over the UAE’s internet censorship policy and they will block any website they see fit. These include sites involving pornography, betting or gambling, and anti-religious or Islamophobic views. Basically, any website which contradicts the moral stance of the UAE is going to be blocked for the general public’s access.
Why You Need a VPN in the Middle East
If you are travelling or thinking about living in the Middle East for a period of time, you should definitely think about getting a VPN. It will make communicating with people back home much easier and will allow you to access sites that you might not have been able to see otherwise. Without a VPN, you also might be arrested for searching for something which you thought was innocent but actually falls under the banned lists. Don’t let your search history and online activity unknowingly put you at risk.
Apps and software which we take for granted at home like WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Snapchat are all blocked and we would not be able to use them to chat to people at home if we did not have our VPNs. Skype is one of the major programs which has been debated over the years. It is currently blocked but has been unblocked and then blocked again repeatedly over the last few years. With the government offering their own services instead, it is a little difficult to predict what the future is going to be for these services.
If you want to be able to continue to act as you have before, you should definitely consider getting a VPN to help you out. However, there are some things you should know about having one before you pick one up.
VPNs are technically illegal in the UAE and there are some quite hefty repercussions if you are caught with one. You could face a fine of over $500,000 if caught plus some potential jailtime. If you are also caught using the VPN for any fraudulent or illegal activities, you will also face punishments for them too.
The UAE law enforcement agencies can be extremely difficult to work with if you do get stuck. Make sure you always have the contact information for your country’s embassy so you will be able to get the help you need if you are arrested.
Do You Need a VPN?
If you are thinking about getting your hands on a VPN for your travel to the UAE, you have lots to weigh up. If you do think that you want to get one, be sure to check out this list of the best VPNs for UAE. One of these might be just the thing you are looking for, but you should always be aware of the repercussions if you were caught using one.
Chances are, you will use your VPN without getting caught and everything will be fine. However, you have to take into consideration the repercussions if you do decide to use one.
The UAE is a beautiful destination with plenty about it to entice visitors. Start planning your trip there today and try to decide whether a VPN is the right fit for your travel plans alongside it. If you value protecting your internet history, it might be something you want to look into.