What Is The Best VPN for Qatar in 2018?
NordVPN is the best option for keeping your Qatar-based internet activities undercover. The service offers comprehensive global server coverage, which provides a large amount of content-unblocking power. Fast connection speeds mean that unblocked streaming and gaming content will be flowing through a large pipe.
The service also provides the encryption you need to protect your online activities (and their associated business and personal information) from those who would love to get their greasy paws on it.
Internet Freedom in Qatar
Internet penetration in Qatar sat at 93% in 2016, making it the second most connected country in the Arab region.
The government is making plans to widen internet access, which includes making free wireless internet access available in parks in the country.
In recent years, the following key internet-related developments occurred:
Freedom House has not rated Qatar’s internet freedom. However, they rate the country’s freedom of the press score as 70/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free).
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in Qatar
Why Is a VPN Needed in Qatar?
Obtaining truly free access to the internet from inside Qatar borders can be a challenge. In this section, I’ll cover the types of restrictions the Qatari government places on internet users.
Qatar offers its citizens a heavily censored version of the internet when it comes to accessing websites and services outside of the country.
The government filters out political criticism of the government, LGBTQ content, sexual health resources and more.
There are limited political restrictions, but journalists still often practice self-censorship, avoiding any reporting of sensitive issues.
Voice Over IP
The Supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR), the Qatari telecommunications regulatory authority, restricts Voice over IP (VoIP) service to services that it has issued a license to.
There are currently only two companies licensed to provide such services to the public in Qatar (QTel and Vodafone).
Use of VoIP apps such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp from inside the country is, at best, hit or miss, although many users report great success when using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide their VoIP app activities.
Qatar does not actively restrict access to popular social media networks. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Google+ are the most popular social networks in the country.
A 2006 telecommunications law states that law enforcement can fine or imprison (for up to one year) any person who uses a “telecommunications network” to disturb, irritate or offend others.
That rather vague wording suggests the possibility of law enforcement enforcing punishment on dubious grounds. However, as long as you are just communicating with friends or family and are not attempting to overthrow the government, you should be fine.
Peer-to-Peer (BitTorrent) file sharing is not technically illegal in Qatar.
However, according to anecdotal evidence on Reddit, the government blocks file sharing sites that offer copyrighted materials. Despite that, Reddit users report great success in using a VPN to get around the P2P blockades.
While there have been no reports of the Qatari government conducting active internet surveillance, Wikileaks claims that Qatar’s State Security Bureau has purchased software to allow them to secretly monitor emails and other forms of online communications.
The government of Qatar may censor the internet through a proxy server that blocks certain websites, chat rooms and more.
My research reveals no specific requirements for keeping ISP user logs in Qatar.
Netflix is available in Qatar.
However, users will find only 178 TV shows and 552 movies are available on Netflix in the country, compared to the American version’s 1,326 shows and 4,339 movies.
Other streaming services, such as U.S.-based Hulu or U.K.-based BBC iPlayer, restrict access to viewers in their home countries.
Legality of Using a VPN
Virtual Private Networking (VPN) usage is legal in Qatar. However, the usual warnings about using a VPN in the commission of a crime do apply.
Gambling of all types is illegal in Qatar, as the country’s national religion (Islam) forbids it.
As such, the government makes somewhat of an attempt to block offshore gambling websites. However, reports indicate that the blocking is only partially successful.
In addition, while there are numerous e-education initiatives in Qatar, parental anxiety prevents many Qatari children from enrolling in such programs. The issue of possibly inappropriate content on the web is a barrier to widespread adoption of the technology. There is a wide technological divide between children and their parents.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in Qatar
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encases your internet connection in a layer of encryption, protecting your online activities.
This prevents anyone from tracking your activities on the internet, preventing them from seeing which websites or services you are accessing. This allows you to bypass Qatari government restrictions and access blocked websites.
A VPN’s encryption can also protect your personal and business information when you’re using a Wi-Fi hotspot. Hotspot users are an attractive target for hackers, no matter which country you’re in.
Encryption prevents the bad guys from being able to read the login and other information on your favorite shopping, banking and credit card websites.
A VPN can also make it appear that your internet connection is coming from another location, be it across the country or on the other side of the world.
This IP address “spoofing” ability makes a VPN quite handy for ex-pats who long to catch up on their U.S. Netflix binge or their favorite BBC iPlayer series.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in Qatar
When considering a VPN for use within the borders of Qatar, there are a number of features that you’ll find are important to consider when making your final decision.
Top-notch privacy protections are always an important consideration but are especially important when using a VPN from inside a somewhat restrictive country like Qatar. While using a VPN is legal in that country, if logs of your online activities are available, you could still get in trouble for visiting certain websites.
Connection speed is also an important consideration, especially for visitors to Qatar who are looking to access streaming content from their home countries. You don’t want to spend half an evening waiting for Jessica Jones to begin playing.
In this part of my article, I’ll discuss each important VPN feature, explain why it’s important, and then list my top 10 VPN providers, ranking them according to how well they perform in each category.
When you’re using a VPN in Qatar, chances are you’re using it to get around roadblocks that may be put up by the Qatari government to prevent access to banned content. While using a VPN in Qatar is not illegal, you still don’t want any third parties accessing records outlining your online travels.
When I talk about “privacy,” in this case, I am referring to whether or not a specific provider saves logs related to your online activities. Plus, I am referring to how well a VPN provider protects your subscription payment information.
When researching VPN providers, be sure you find out which country the provider is based in, what that country’s data retention laws are, and whether the provider saves any type of logs related to your online antics. In addition, find out whether they accept privacy-enhancing payment methods, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards.
The list of VPN providers below is sorted in order of best privacy protection down to the worst.
Connection speed is important in today’s always-on world, where the average person is downloading or streaming huge amounts of data to their devices. Especially if you’re in a country like Qatar, a VPN is your connection to the outside world and the content it offers.
I tested each VPN provider to find out how much each one would slow down my internet connection. Any time you use a VPN, you can expect at least a small slowdown in your connection speeds, due to the overhead of the VPN’s encryption, and the extra steps your connection is going through to reach its final destination.
The figures in the table below were calculated by first measuring the speed of my ISP-only connection through the easy-to-use test found at the Speedtest website. Once that was completed, I connected to each VPN service and then visited the Speedtest site again to measure the encrypted connection. The speed percentage numbers in the table below were calculated by comparing the two speeds.
This table below lists my top 10 VPN providers, ranked from fastest to slowest.
“Kill switch” protection prevents outsiders from monitoring your internet connection if you lose your connection to your VPN provider. The kill switch will automatically disconnect your internet connection in case of a connection failure to your favorite VPN server. This keeps your real IP address a secret and ensures that your online activities will be kept under wraps.
The providers below are listed alphabetically, and it is noted whether or not they offer a kill switch.
Other Factors to Consider
In a perfect world, you’ll never experience issues with your VPN connection, and you’ll never be billed incorrectly by your provider. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world, and you’ll probably need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support department sometime during your subscription period.
Look for a provider that offers a live support chat option, a trouble ticket submission and tracking system and a searchable knowledge base. While phone support would be fantastic, you won’t find that with any of the VPN providers on this list, or many other providers. This is due to the providers’ desire to keep expenses low.
The table below shows my top 10 VPN providers, sorted according to the level of customer support they offer. The score is calculated according to what types of support each company offers, as well as the promptness and accuracy of the answers provided by support agents.
Members of the wealthy Al Thani family can go ahead and skip ahead to the next section, but the rest of us will probably want to stick around for this one.
If you’re like me, you don’t like having to pay any more for anything you buy than you absolutely have to. Yet, I also like to keep in mind that just because something is cheap doesn’t mean that it’s a good deal. On the flip side, the highest price doesn’t always guarantee the highest quality.
When researching VPN pricing, look for a good deal, but make sure that deal isn’t at the expense of important features, like speedy connections or wide-ranging global server coverage. Also, keep in mind that many providers periodically offer special deals that can greatly reduce the price of a VPN subscription.
Users who are on an especially tight budget that might not be able to spring for an annual VPN subscription will be glad to know that most VPN providers also offer month-to-month payment options. However, you will end up paying more in the long run if you opt for this payment method.