Internet censorship in many Middle Eastern countries is some of the most restrictive found in the world today. Governments there monitor and restrict their citizens’ internet access for numerous reasons, ranging from religious, to political, to legal.
In addition to government monitoring, users also have to worry about their Internet Service Provider (ISP) tracking their online activities, as well as hackers looking to steal their important personal and business-related information.
Can a VPN Help?
Later on, I’ll share a list of what each country in the region blocks, and whether a VPN is legal in each country. But it’s safe to assume that if you’re in a Middle Eastern country, they’re blocking something on the web.
Luckily, Middle Easterners and visitors to the region can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to avoid government monitoring and restrictions and to protect their online activities from the prying eyes of their ISP and hackers.
In this article, I’ll share with you my list of the seven best VPNs to use in the Middle East.
How to Use a VPN in the Middle East
Keep in mind that some countries in the Middle East – such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and others – do their best to block all VPN traffic (excepting that from a few government-approved providers). This means that many VPNs won’t work in these countries.
However, the seven VPN providers in this article are continuing to fight the good fight, and the last time I checked, they still work inside those countries and the other Middle Eastern countries.
Even if a country doesn’t block VPNs from operating inside its borders, many will block the websites of “unapproved” VPN providers, making it harder to sign up for service. That’s why I always recommend that you sign up for a VPN subscription, download the provider’s software and test it before you visit the Middle East.
Users who are looking for the best way to protect their online activities from prying eyes and open access to the rest of the world need only follow these few steps:
- Subscribe to a VPN provider. (I suggest NordVPN.)
- Download and install your provider’s app(s) to your device(s).
- Log into the VPN’s server network.
- Select and connect to a VPN server located anywhere outside of the Middle East.
- Enjoy your internet freedom.
Best VPNs for the Middle East
In testing all of my top VPN providers, I found that these seven VPNs offer the best protection in the Middle East. Here’s a short summary:
- NordVPN: Best VPN for the Middle East. This provider ranks at #1 thanks to its optimal security and privacy protections. Its obfuscated servers and Double VPN options help hide your VPN activity and provide additional encrypted protection for your connection.
- Surfshark: Best Value-Priced VPN. Surfshark offers ideal security and privacy protections, as well as an unlimited simultaneous connections policy, all for a very reasonable price.
- ExpressVPN: Best Premium Priced VPN. In addition to government-grade encryption, this provider also offers other protection options. Its global server coverage lets you access well-protected connections to many, many places around the world.
- CyberGhost: Good VPN option for rookies. This provider is likely to be an attractive VPN option for Egyptian users with little to no experience with VPNs. CyberGhost has easy-to-use apps, providing comprehensive protection with a single click.
- Private Internet Access: Reliable protection for the Middle East. This VPN provider works well in Egypt, delivering well-encrypted connections that provide access to geo-blocked content around the world.
- PrivateVPN: Stealthy VPN protection for the Middle East. This up-and-coming VPN provider may not have the most impressive global server network, but their connection protection includes a “Stealth VPN” feature that disguises your VPN activity as normal browser traffic.
- Atlas VPN: Comprehensive VPN Protection for the Middle East. Admittedly, this provider’s global server network could use some work. However, the provider does deliver undercover access to content in many other countries.
I evaluated and ranked the top Middle East VPNs using the following criteria:
- No user logs of any kind
- Highest level of encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- DNS leak protection
- Comprehensive multi-platform support
- Top-notch customer support
Here’s my list of the top seven VPNs for use in the Middle East.
NordVPN is the best option for breaking through most Middle Eastern countries’ blockades and remaining incognito. The provider delivers reliable protection for your Middle Eastern online activities thanks to its obfuscated servers and Double VPN features.
NordVPN provides the fastest connection speeds of any provider I’ve ever tested. Depending on your usual connection speeds, NordVPN-provided connections can easily handle streaming, gaming, and any other online activity you might enjoy.
NordVPN has over 5,400 servers stationed in nearly 60 countries. The provider’s servers do an above-average job of unblocking content, no matter who is doing the blocking. The provider’s owned-and-operated server network keeps outside contractors away from its customers’ personal data.
All of those servers are kept log-free, and a cryptocurrency payment option keeps your subscription payment info undercover. Plus, all NordVPN servers are operated 100% from RAM, with no data whatsoever being written to an actual hard drive. All server data is therefore completely wiped from these servers whenever they are restarted or shut down.
In addition to bank-grade encryption, NordVPN provides kill switch protection, and IP and DNS leak prevention. Plus, the provider’s obfuscated servers hide your VPN activities, and their Double VPN option encrypts your connection twice by routing it through two VPN servers.
NordVPN app support consists of native apps for the Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS (natively supports M1-based Macs), Linux, Amazon Fire and Windows platforms. Plus, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available.
Up to six devices can connect at the same time using a single set of login credentials, and router support is available if you need more than that.
24/7 live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system, and a searchable support library have your support needs covered around the clock.
- Keeps no user logs ever
- Lightning-fast speeds
- Bank-grade encryption
- Excellent privacy protections
- Connection obfuscation and Double VPN protection
- App interface could be a bit more user-friendly
VEST VPN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST:NordVPN is the best VPN for protecting your online activities while in the Middle East. The provider’s top-notch privacy and security do an excellent job of keeping your online activities protected. Its fast speeds are appreciated. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark earns the 2nd spot in this roundup thanks to its “Multi-Hop” Double VPN routing, excellent encrypted connections, and unlimited simultaneous connections allotment.
Surfshark connections aren’t lacking any bandwidth, making them above average for streaming, gaming, and sharing files. No data caps of any kind are ever imposed.
Surfshark’s global server network numbers have reached 3,200+ servers in 65 countries, nearly double their numbers from a little over a year ago. The network does an excellent job of unblocking streaming and gaming services, as well as other types of content and websites.
Those servers are all operated without saving logs of any type, and the provider also accepts Bitcoin as payment for their considerable services.
In addition to government-level encryption, the provider offers kill switch protection, ad and tracking cookies blocking, and DNS leak protection. It also offers Double VPN protection (called “Multi-Hop”), which routes your internet connection through two VPN servers, further obfuscating your actual IP address.
Surfshark app support includes native apps for the Android, iOS, Linux, macOS (boasting native Apple Silicon support), Windows, and Amazon Fire platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
Router support is available as well. Users looking to protect large groups of users will appreciate Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
Customer support is always available thanks to the provider’s 24/7 support chat, contact form, and support knowledge base.
- Budget pricing
- Excellent online protection
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Double VPN means double anonymity
- Advanced options would be nice
GREAT FOR BUDGET:Surfshark provides top-notch protection at a budget price. There’s protection for your Middle Eastern internet activity thanks to its Double VPN protection. Large groups will appreciate the provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections policy. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
In addition to impressive security and privacy protections, ExpressVPN boasts wide-ranging global server coverage, giving you access to plenty of content around the world.
The provider does little to slow your internet connection, providing super speedy connections. No data caps to restrict your online activities.
The provider has 3,000+ VPN servers in 94 countries, providing protection no matter what part of the world you need to connect to. The provider’s server network offers reliable access to geo- and government-blocked content, including streaming services, blocked websites, and more.
The provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, which doesn’t require VPN providers to keep any user logs. The provider takes full advantage of that, protecting your privacy by keeping no logs of any type. ExpressVPN accepts Bitcoin to keep your payment info completely incognito.
ExpressVPN also runs all of its servers 100% from volatile RAM. No data is ever written to a physical hard drive. This ensures that all data is securely wiped when a server is shut down or rebooted.
Military-level encryption, automatic kill switch protection, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention keep your online activities undercover. Plus, the provider offers the ability to route your computer’s DNS requests through the ExpressVPN DNS service which runs on every server.
The provider offers native apps for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, Chromebook, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows device platforms. Browser extensions are available for the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox platforms.
Excellent router compatibility can be used to protect all of your online devices. Up to 5 simultaneous connections are allowed on a single username.
ExpressVPN provides always-available customer support, with a 24/7 live support chat option, email support, a support ticket tracking system, and a support knowledge base.
- Most expensive provider on this list
- Only 5 simultaneous connections
WORLDWIDE ACCESS:ExpressVPN supplies access to content around the world thanks to its massive global server network. Its security and privacy protections are above-average, and its app support is more than comprehensive. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
If you’re looking for a VPN provider but have little-to-no experience with them, CyberGhost is worth a look.
CyberGhost’s connection speeds are some of the fastest around, making it a reliable way to stream from popular streaming services, share files, and online games.
The provider has more than 8,000 servers stationed in 90+ countries around the world. If you’re in search of just online protection or to connect to content located in the Middle East while abroad, you can use one of the provider’s Middle East-based servers.
While the provider offers easy-to-use protection, the VPN’s online security and privacy protections are not the lesser for it. Government-grade encryption, as well as IP/DNS leak prevention keeps your online travels incognito. Malicious websites, ads and online trackers can optionally be blocked.
The provider follows a total no-logs policy, while happily accepting Bitcoin as payment, keeping your payment info private, when you use a disposable email address.
Native app support from the provider includes offerings for the iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Android TV, and Amazon Fire device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
The provider allows users to simultaneously connect up to seven of their devices to its servers. Users with more than seven devices, or who are looking to protect a device not listed above, can make use of the provider’s comprehensive router compatibility.
CyberGhost’s services don’t stop with quality VPN service. It also offers a password manager, as well as an ID Guard feature that alerts you if/when your email address is revealed in a data breach. The provider’s Security Suite for Windows offers malware and virus protection. Plus, you can also customize how much access Microsoft will have to your Windows data.
Customer support is always ready in your time of need, with live support chat, a searchable support library, and a support ticket tracking system.
- Impressively-large global server network
- Easy-to-use apps for many popular devices
- Servers located in the Middle East
- Blazing download speeds
- Lacks some advanced options
- Sometimes has issues working in restrictive countries
BEST FOR VPN FOR MIDDLE EASTERN ROOKIES:CyberGhost is a reliable and easy-to-use way for first-time VPN users to protect their online activities. The provider’s easy-to-use apps provide comprehensive online security and privacy. Has a 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
Private internet Access (PIA) provides comprehensive online security and privacy for the Middle East.
This provider’s download speeds are not the fastest in this lineup by any stretch of the imagination. However, it provides more than enough horsepower for an enjoyable streaming or gaming experience. No data caps or bandwidth limitations are ever imposed on your usage.
PIA’s global server network includes 3,300+ servers stationed in more than 80 countries, including some in the Middle East. This means most of your geo-controlled content needs will be covered and can still access content from your home area if you find yourself traveling or living abroad.
Excellent online security is a hallmark of PIA, thanks to its government-grade encrypted connections, IP/DNS leak prevention and kill switch features. Ad, tracker, malware and malicious website blocking is also available.
A strict no-logs policy, as well as its acceptance of cryptocurrency as payment help keep your usage and payment information undercover.
PIA’s native app support includes options for Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS and Linux devices. Chrome, Opera and Firefox browser browser extensions are available, as is comprehensive router compatibility.
Users can simultaneously connect up to 10 devices to the VPN’s servers on a single user account.
PIA support offerings include a live support chat option, a trouble ticket form, and a support library.
- Offers apps for many popular devices
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Top-notch online privacy and security
- No streaming-optimized servers listed in apps
- Doesn’t work well in some countries
RELIABLE VPN PROTECTIONS FOR USERS IN MIDDLE EAST:Private Internet Access delivers fast, well-encrypted connections. The provider’s reliable access to geo-protected content around the globe increases your entertainment options. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of Private Internet Access.
PrivateVPN is an up-and-coming VPN provider that has somewhat limited global server coverage, but offers “Stealth VPN” access to those servers, hiding your VPN activity.
This provider offers fast connection speeds, easily up to streaming high definition video, playing fast online games, or sharing large files.
While the provider’s global server count of 200+ servers spread out among 60 countries is a bit thin, all of them do a top-notch job of unblocking geo-blocked content. Just make sure they have servers in the targeted areas.
All of those servers are run without keeping any type of logs, and a Bitcoin subscription payment option keeps your payment info secure.
Government-level encryption protects your online activities from prying eyes, as does the provider’s kill switch option, and its IPv6 and DNS leak protection. In addition, the provider’s “Stealth VPN” protection helps keep your VPN usage hidden.
Native app support is limited to the big 4 (Android, iOS, macOS and Windows), but the provider also offers compatibility with numerous router makes and models. Up to six devices at once can be connected to the PrivateVPN servers using a single username.
PrivateVPN customer support is made up of an email support feature, an FAQ library, and live support chat (while the provider claims its support chat feature is available 24/7, I’ve visited the site numerous times when it wasn’t available. The chat balloon will be green when live chat is available).
- Reliable access to the outside world
- Stealth VPN connection protection
- Up to six simultaneous connections
- Low server numbers
- Below-average multi-platform app support
IMPRESSIVE ONLINE PROTECTION:PrivateVPN offers reliable and not-easily-detectable access to the world outside of the Middle East thanks to its “Stealth VPN” obfuscation feature, which hides your VPN activity from observation. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
Atlas VPN may have a rather small global server network, but it provides top-notch online protection and privacy.
Atlas VPN’s connection speeds are some of the fastest around. Atlas connections can easily handle any popular online activities that you may enjoy. No data caps and no bandwidth limitations ever ruin your good time.
This provider’s global server network measures in on the small end of things, with 750+ servers in nearly 35 countries. While those server and country numbers could certainly do with a boost, the network provides reliable and fast access to online content wherever it has servers.
No logs to be found on any of those 750+ servers, meaning there are no worries of evidence of your online activities turning up. If you prefer to pay using cryptocurrency you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The provider protects its customers’ connections with government-grade encryption, a kill switch and other protections. Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus protects you from online perils, while blocking ads.
Native app support for the Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV device platforms all make the scene. While Linux support, browser extensions and support for routers are currently unavailable, all three features are under development.
An unlimited number of devices can be connected at once on a single user account.
Live support chat is available only to subscribers. However, email, a contact form, and a support library are available to all.
- Fast connections
- Reliable access to blocked content
- Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus provide additional protection
- Lacks support for routers, browsers, or Linux
- Global server network could stand an increase
TOP NOTCH ONLINE PROTECTION:Atlas VPN hides your online activities while in the Middle East. The provider’s server network is small, but mighty. Linux, browser, and router support are not available, but are on the way. 30-day money-back guarantee available.
Methodology for Assessing VPNs for the Middle East
Never select a VPN service provider for use anywhere in the Middle East before ensuring whether or not it will work in the country. The Middle East includes multiple restrictive countries, and not just any VPN will always work. I’ve tested the best available VPNs to determine whether or not they will work effectively in countries in the Middle East, and I’ve listed them above.
These are the categories I paid special attention to when assessing those VPNs for the Middle East:
- Speed: Some Middle Eastern governments throttle their citizens’ internet speeds, which makes a VPN’s connection speeds, which are already an important consideration, even more vital. All of the VPNs on my list, especially NordVPN and ExpressVPN, offer fast download speeds.
- Server Network: A large server network is an important factor for many online activities, as a large server network improves your options when it comes to unblocking international geo-blocked internet content. In addition, look for a high server count in numerous countries. A larger number of servers will mean improved performance, as no single server will have too many users hitting it at once.
- Value: Never settle for a VPN with a higher asking price than is justified by its features. Each VPN I recommend for the Middle East offers an excellent value, with a price that is reasonable, considering what the VPN offers.
- Ease of Use: Using a VPN shouldn’t be difficult. Choose a provider that offers powerful, yet easy-to-use apps. I only recommend VPNs that offer simple yet powerful apps, so even beginning VPN users can benefit from the VPN quickly. Also, check to make sure the VPN provider you’re considering offers apps for a wide array of device platforms.
- Security and Privacy: Since the Middle East contains highly restrictive countries when it comes to the internet, making comprehensive digital security and privacy protections essential features of a VPN. Banking-level encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection are the bare minimum in online protection that you should look for. The VPN should also never save any server logs of your online activities, so an oppressive government can never request any records of them (because there won’t be any).
- Streaming: Streaming is arguably one of the most popular online activities among VPN users, so it makes sense to also consider the streaming capabilities of VPNs. Each VPN on my list offers reliable access to streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other popular streaming sites.
My VPN testing methodology doesn’t end here. In fact, the factors above are only a part of what I consider. My data-driven approach allows me to understand the VPNs and their offerings, which means I can recommend only VPNs that are a good fit for the subject in question.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for Use in the Middle East?
No, don’t even consider it. Please, for your own good, don’t. A “free” VPN is never a good idea, but particularly not in an overly restrictive region like the Middle East.
I would argue that the most important reason for using a VPN is to keep your online activities safe from prying eyes. Online security and privacy are doubly important in the Middle East.
A free VPN will not protect your privacy. As a matter of fact, it might increase your online risk.
Many sans-cost VPN providers will track their users’ online travels and then sell that information to advertisers and other interested parties. If a VPN provider is willing to sell your info to anyone, they probably wouldn’t resist too hard if the government of a Middle Eastern country came a-callin’.
You also might keep in mind that some free VPNs have also been caught injecting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browser sessions. (Those tracking cookies stick around, even after you’ve disconnected from the VPN network.)
You also pay for “free” VPNs with your precious time. Some freebie providers force you to cool your heels in a queue, waiting until one of the limited free spots is open on their servers. Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll either find that your server selection is severely limited, or you’re simply assigned a server of the provider’s choosing.
Many free VPNs will also throttle your connection speeds, and force daily or monthly data caps on your VPN usage.
Does any of this sound good to you?
Is It Legal to Use a VPN in the Middle East?
When it comes to whether or not a VPN is legal to use, it really comes down to which of the 15+ Middle Eastern countries you’re in. Many of the countries have some or many restrictions on your online activities.
The list below is the information I was able to find for each country. It lists the censorship status of the country, and whether the country restricts VPN usage.
Pixel Privacy doesn’t condone illegal activities on the web, and I strongly recommend you research the country you’re about to visit to determine the country’s laws regarding the internet and VPN usage.
- Bahrain: Heavy censorship. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Cyprus: Blocks foreign gambling sites; otherwise, no restrictions. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Egypt: Blocks news, anti-censorship, and encrypted communications platforms. Surveillance on social media. VPN usage is unregulated, but the government blocks most VPN websites.
- Iran: Widespread blocking of websites and encrypted messaging apps. Government-approved VPNs only.
- Iraq: Occasionally blocks social media. Possible government surveillance. VPN usage banned.
- Israel: Blocks all non-Israeli gambling sites. Plus, A law was passed in 2017 that allows the government to block more websites in the name of fighting crime. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Jordan: Censors LGBT and politically sensitive content. History of surveillance and arresting of journalists. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Kuwait: Blocks sexual content, LGBT content, and anti-monarchy, anti-religious, or anti-establishment content. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Lebanon: Occasional blocking of gambling and pornographic sites. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Oman: Extensive censorship of sexual materials, and anti-Islam, anti-government, and anti-censorship content. VPN usage is unregulated, but many VPN websites are blocked.
- Palestine: Selectively censors news and pornographic websites. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Qatar: Blocks dating, pornography, anti-government, privacy, and VoIP services. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Saudi Arabia: History of arresting and assassinating journalists. Blocks content related to encryption, VPNs, sex, and religious conversion. It also blocks news covering the government unfavorably. VPN usage is unregulated, but many VPN websites are blocked.
- Syria: Blocking and surveillance of anti-government and news sites. Has assassinated journalists. VPN usage is unregulated.
- Turkey: Blocks pornography, file sharing, news, social media, gambling, streaming sites, and more. VPN usage is unregulated, but many VPN websites are blocked.
- Dubai/United Arab Emirates: Blocks content related to gambling, dating, porn, social media, VoIP services, and politically sensitive materials. VPN usage is unregulated, but the government will prosecute for using a VPN for anything illegal.
- Yemen: Censors anti-Islamic material, as well as gambling, sexual, anti-establishment, or other “offensive” content. Has throttled websites such as Facebook. VPN usage is unregulated.
How to Maximize Your Privacy in The Middle East
Once you’re in the Middle East, do the following before connecting to your VPN of choice.
Enable every protection your VPN app offers. If the OpenVPN protocol is available, use it. Enable kill switch protection, auto-reconnect, obfuscation features, Double VPN and Stealth VPN features, as well as any other option that can help hide your activities and the fact that you are using a VPN.
What Else Can I Use a VPN For?
While a VPN provides comprehensive protection for your online security and privacy, it also provides additional advantages.
A VPN opens access to a world of content that might not normally be available in your region. This includes streaming services, gaming content, and other services and websites that may be blocked in your country.
A VPN’s encrypted connections hide your online activities from your ISP, who may want to throttle your connection speeds, simply because you may be engaging in unapproved activities (such as P2P file sharing) or accessing unapproved sites.
That same encrypted connection also hides your online activities when you’re using an unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing you to shop online, pay bills and do your banking without worrying about that shifty fellow at the next table over in the coffee shop trying to steal your important information.
Best VPN For The Middle East FAQs
Can I Get in Trouble for Using a VPN in the Middle East?
This one of those questions where the answer is a rousing "it depends." The Middle East region is made up of over 15 countries, each with its own laws about online conduct and the use of VPNs. Be sure to check out your country's rules and regulations.
Is There Heavy Internet Censorship in the Middle East?
Yes, just about every country in the Middle East blocks or filters some kind of internet content. Censored content includes sexual content, anti-government or anti-religious posts, blocking of gambling sites, and much more.
A VPN is the best tool available to both enhance and protect all of your online activities while visiting the Middle East.
Of all of the VPNs on this list, NordVPN offers the best way to avoid Middle Eastern internet censorship, protect your online activities from prying eyes, and provide access to content that might normally be blocked in that area of the world.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.
- Can a VPN Help?
- How to Use a VPN in the Middle East
- Best VPNs for the Middle East
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. Private Internet Access
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. Atlas VPN
- Methodology for Assessing VPNs for the Middle East
- Is a Free VPN a Good Option for Use in the Middle East?
- Is It Legal to Use a VPN in the Middle East?
- How to Maximize Your Privacy in The Middle East
- What Else Can I Use a VPN For?
- Best VPN For The Middle East FAQs
- Can I Get in Trouble for Using a VPN in the Middle East?
- Is There Heavy Internet Censorship in the Middle East?