Qatar is one of the most connected countries in the Middle East, with 99% internet penetration. However, it is also one of the most monitored and regulated countries when it comes to online activity.
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.
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.
Peer-to-peer file sharing is not technically illegal in Qatar. However, anecdotal evidence on Reddit indicates the government does block file sharing sites with links to copyrighted materials.
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.
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.
Luckily, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is still legal in Qatar.
A VPN offers residents and visitors to Qatar optimal online privacy and security, while also enhancing their online activities.
In this article, I’ll be sharing information about the 5 top VPNs that offer the best performance and protection from inside of Qatar.
How to Use a VPN From Inside Qatar
To protect and enhance your online activities while residing in or visiting Qatar, do the following:
- Subscribe to the VPN provider of your choice. (ExpressVPN is my #1 choice.)
- Install the VPN provider’s app on all of your devices.
- Log into the VPN service on any device.
- Select a VPN server located outside of Qatar to access content based in other countries, or select a server inside of Qatar to hide your in-country online activities from observation.
- Enjoy your new online protection and freedom!
Best VPNs for Use in Qatar
The 5 VPN providers ranked below are the best VPNs for use while inside Qatar. The brief highlights of each provider are:
- ExpressVPN: The top choice for quality VPN protection in Qatar, this provider offers optimal privacy and security protections, while also providing enhancements for all of your online activities.
- NordVPN: This provider is the top option for users who would rather spend their hard-earned riyals on other things besides VPN protection, but don’t want to sacrifice quality online protection.
- CyberGhost: Here’s the best option for first-time VPN users. The service delivers excellent online security and privacy, as well as servers enhanced for specific online activities, all via easy-to-use apps. This is also the only provider on this list with servers inside Qatar.
- PrivateVPN: While this provider’s global server coverage and app support could both use a bump, it offers an extra bit of online protection thanks to its “Stealth VPN” feature, which helps disguise your VPN activity as normal browser traffic.
- Surfshark: A quickly-growing global server network and fast connections are not even the highlights of this recent addition to the VPN ranks. Users with a need for a large number of multiple connections will appreciate the provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections policy.
When ranking this top 5 lineup, I considered the following factors:
- Size of global server network
- Security and privacy protections
- Speed of protected connections
- Multi-platform app support
- Customer support
Here is my list of the 5 best VPNs for internet users inside Qatar.
ExpressVPN is the #1 choice for protecting and enhancing your online activities while visiting or residing in Qatar.
The provider offers comprehensive global server coverage, with over 3,000+ servers spread out among 94 countries. However, none of those servers are located inside Qatar. As we’ll soon see, it’s unusual to find a VPN with servers inside the country.
Security and privacy are never an issue when you’re using ExpressVPN. The provider protects your online antics from being observed by encasing your connection inside a tunnel of bank-grade encryption.
A kill switch option, along with DNS and IPv6 leak protection, protect your online security. The provider’s desktop apps offer a split tunneling feature, which allows you to specify which apps connect through the protected tunnel.
Your privacy is also well protected thanks to a strict no-logs policy when it comes to servers and a private Bitcoin subscription payment option.
As of January 2020, Qatar’s mobile internet speeds ranked globally in 3rd place, while its broadband speeds were the 40th fastest. ExpressVPN does little to slow down those speeds, as the provider’s connections can easily handle HD and 4K streams, online gaming, and the sharing and downloading of large files. No data caps to get in your way.
App support from ExpressVPN is some of the best in the VPN industry, with apps available for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux and Chromebook device platforms.
Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are present and accounted for. Comprehensive router compatibility protects all of your connected devices. 5 devices can connect at once while using the same login info.
Around-the-clock customer support is available, including 24/7 live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support knowledgebase.
- Reliable access to geo-blocked content around the globe
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Fast connection speeds
- Top-notch security and privacy protection
- Excellent app support
- The price is more expensive than many other VPN providers
BEST VPN FOR QATAR IN 2020:ExpressVPN is my #1 choice for Qatar-based users who are in search of a reliable VPN to protect their online activities from prying eyes. This provider’s connection speeds ensure you’ll have a satisfying experience while gaming or movie-watching, and the ExpressVPN global server network ensures reliable access to content around the globe.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is my budget option on this list, providing excellent protection for your hard-earned riyals.
The NordVPN global server network consists of over 5,500 servers in 58 countries. (None inside of Qatar.)
No privacy worries here thanks to a no-server-logs-ever policy and a cryptocurrency payment option.
Although NordVPN’s connection speeds are the slowest in this list of 5, their connection speeds should be more than up to handling HD video, online gaming and sharing files. No data caps to worry about here.
Native app support is a definite plus for this provider, with offerings for the Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV and Linux device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
Comprehensive router support protects all of your connected devices via a single access point. Up to 6 simultaneous connections are allowed using a single set of login credentials.
Customer support is available 24/7 thanks to around-the-clock live support chat, email support and a searchable support library.
- Servers in 58 countries
- Around-the-clock support
- Excellent privacy and security protections
- Low yearly subscription pricing
- Slow connection speeds when compared to others on this list
BEST BARGAIN VPN OPTION:NordVPN is the best VPN option for budget-minded individuals who don’t want to give up excellent online protection just to save some money. The provider delivers optimal security and privacy protections while delivering acceptable connection speeds. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
If you’re a beginner VPN user, or heck, if you’re a beginner device user, you’ll appreciate a VPN that offers ease of use while not sacrificing features. CyberGhost is that VPN.
This provider offers excellent global server coverage, with over 5,800 servers based in 89 countries around the globe. CyberGhost is the only provider on this list that has VPN servers stationed inside of Qatar. Their server options include streaming- and file sharing-optimized options.
The provider delivers optimal online security thanks to government-grade encryption, a kill switch, and IPv6 and DNS leak protection. The provider’s desktop apps also offer ad and tracking blocking, as well as the ability to force websites to serve up HTTPS versions of their pages if available.
Privacy is another plus when it comes to CyberGhost thanks to a strict no-server-logs policy and its acceptance of Bitcoin in return for its services.
All of the above-listed protections don’t slow down your connection by much, as CyberGhost’s servers offer download speeds that can easily handle both 4K and HD video streams, fast-moving online gaming, and downloading and sharing large files. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about bumping up against any data caps when using this VPN.
All popular device platforms are protected thanks to easy-to-use apps for the Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows device platforms. Chrome and Firefox extensions are also available.
Comprehensive router support keeps your other connected devices protected. Up to 7 simultaneous connections can be made using a single login.
24/7 support includes always-available live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable knowledge base.
- Servers in 89 countries (Qatar included)
- 4K streaming-capable download speeds
- Easy-to-use apps
- Streaming- and downloading-optimized servers
- Advanced users may miss the ability to customize some settings
BEST FOR VPN OR DEVICE NEWBIES:CyberGhost is my top VPN pick for beginner users who are looking for optimal protection without the need to flip a bunch of virtual switches to set up optional VPN protection. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN is one of the more recent companies to offer VPN protection, and it has plenty of room to improve its already above-average service.
The provider’s global server coverage is a bit thin, as it currently has just 150+ servers spread thinly among 60 countries around the globe.
PrivateVPN doesn’t lack anything in the online protection department thanks to its government-class connection encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak prevention, and its proprietary “Stealth VPN” option that hides your VPN activity by disguising it as regular browser activity.
Privacy is also well served thanks to a lack of server logs, as well as a Bitcoin subscription payment option.
Connection speeds from the provider should be up to handling any of your favorite online activities. The service never imposes any data caps.
App support is another department where PrivateVPN could stand some improvement, as its app selection covers only the big 4 device platforms (Android, iOS, macOS and Windows).
You can gain protection for the other connected devices in your home or office by taking advantage of the provider’s router features. You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously on the same set of user credentials.
Customer support includes email support and an FAQ library. While the provider claims it has 24/7 live chat functionality, I’ve visited the site plenty of times when the chat balloon was red, indicating no one was manning the chat station. (If it’s green, there should be someone available.)
- Fast download speeds
- Stealth VPN option hides your VPN activity
- Up to 6 concurrent device connections
- Server numbers could use a bump
- App support could be better
EXTRA PROTECTION FOR QATAR:PrivateVPN offers reliable VPN protection via its somewhat limited global server network. The service’s “Stealth VPN” feature allows users to disguise their VPN activity as normal browser traffic. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
Surfshark is another relative newcomer, but one that is quickly expanding its global server network, while also offering a feature no other provider on this list can match: unlimited concurrent connections.
This provider offers a somewhat limited but quickly growing global server network. The network is currently 1,000+ servers strong, with servers located in over 60 countries. Their server count is currently double what it was just one year ago.
No problems on the connection protection front with this provider thanks to its banking-grade connection encryption, a kill switch option, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. Surfshark’s apps also offer ad blocking.
Privacy is also well protected thanks to a no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin subscription payment policy.
Those well-protected connections are more than up to handling video streams, online gaming, and downloading and sharing large files.
App support is rather basic from the provider, with options for the Android, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows device platforms. Firefox and Chrome browser extensions are available. Router coverage is also available.
A somewhat unusual unlimited simultaneous connections policy makes the provider an excellent option for users who need to protect a large number of devices at once.
Support is available 24/7 thanks to around-the-clock live chat, a support request form and a searchable support library.
- Fast-growing server network
- No limit on simultaneous device connections
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- App support needs improvement
- 1-month subscription is pricey
UNLIMITED CONNECTION POSSIBILITIES:I advise users looking for VPN protection for large groups of users to take a close look at Surfshark. In addition to unlimited simultaneous connections, the provider also delivers fast connections that boast strong security. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
Won’t a Free VPN Work in Qatar?
It is possible that you could find a “free” VPN that will work from inside of Qatar, but I can almost guarantee that you will not be happy with the protections and performance a free VPN can offer.
First, there is the inconvenience of using a free VPN. Many no-cost VPN providers may force you to wait in a queue before allowing you to connect to the service.
Then, once you’ve been given the green light for connecting, you’ll find that you’re automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choice, or that you have a quite limited server selection to choose from.
As for performance, many freebie providers will throttle your connection speeds. Then, they’ll likely impose a daily or monthly data cap on your usage. So much for using your VPN to stream video or share files, as both of those activities burn through data fairly quickly.
As for your security and privacy, free VPNs are lacking in this area too. Even a free VPN needs to make money to keep their servers humming, and some free VPNs will monitor their users’ online activities, log that activity and then sell the information to advertisers and other nosy third parties.
Plus, some free VPNs have been known to inject unwanted tracking cookies and even ads into their users’ browsing sessions. (And those tracking cookies stick around to track you, even when you’re not using the VPN servers. Sneaky!)
I don’t know about you, but to me, all of the above makes paying for VPN service a lot more attractive than trying to use a freebie provider.
What Can I Do With A VPN?
A Virtual Private Network offers a number of advantages, delivering multiple enhancements and protections for your online activities.
A VPN has the ability to temporarily assign a new IP address to your connected device. Since an IP address can be used to determine your geographic location, a new IP address can make it appear to the rest of the internet that you’re located somewhere other than your actual location.
A VPN encrypts your internet connection, hiding your online activities from your Internet Service Provider, the government and other Nosy Nellies.
Since your ISP can’t see your online activities, it can’t block or throttle your connection simply because you’re participating in frowned-upon activities like sharing files or watching video from an “unapproved” provider.
That same connection encryption comes in quite handy when you’re using an unprotected public Wi-Fi connection at a hotel or your favorite coffee shop. Unencrypted Wi-Fi hotspots are an attractive target for hackers and other bad actors. A VPN prevents the bad guys from monitoring your online shopping, banking and other sensitive online activities.
Qatar residents and visitors will appreciate the protective and enhancing abilities of a Virtual Private Network. A VPN keeps prying eyes away from your online activities, while opening up access to content that you normally can’t touch.
ExpressVPN provides reliable access to content around the globe thanks to its comprehensive global server coverage. Its fast and well-protected connections offer swift and reliable access to the rest of the world. Its security and privacy protections ensure you aren’t being monitored while online, keeping your private activities private.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.