Which Internet websites are blocked or restricted in Dubai?
Which websites and services are blocked or restricted in Dubai & UAE and what are the reasons? How to bypass blocked sites with a VPN. We show you how to get back access to all websites and services with a VPN in Dubai and bypass the block.
The UAE is a group of Emirates that came together to form one country. Each Emirate has its autonomy and rules with Dubai having less stringent rules than the rest. Internet access in the Emirates is very high with more than 95% of the population accessing the web. However, not every site on the web is available to them. The UAE prevents access to content according to the constitution that goes against the country’s religious, moral, and ethical values. Anything they say is against public order, public morality, public interest, or the security and religion of the state is blocked. This is such a broad array of content that it blocks out at least 75% of online content. The state owned ISP providers under the regulation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority ensure these measures are always upheld.
An ISP tracks your IP address to know your geo-location and then provides content that is appropriate to your location. The state owned facilities have unlimited access to all data that flows through their servers and monitor all accessed sites. The use of VPNs has become common to try and work around the complex measures used to allow access to blocked content. A VPN allows you to hide your location or spoof it to another IP address and trick the system into another address. VPN in Dubai are not illegal. The use of VPN in UAE is allowed up to the point where it is used to access blocked content. Accessing such content brings with it imprisonment and hefty fines.
The UAE uses a Secure Computing Cooperation Filtering System such as those employed in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. They offer tight control over accessed content from the public. Censorship allows for the absolute monarchies in the Emirates to continue ruling and prevent any information that goes against their mandate. Communication providers such as Etisalat and Du are both owned by state companies and with the largest market share maintain a tight grip on censored content.
By owning the ISP and service providers the UAE ensures the public abides by such regulations and enforces the censorship of internet use.
Blocked Sites and Content
Worldwide there are restrictions to content and access to certain sites. Age restrictions mostly are implemented on gambling and adult sites but are not completely adhered to. In the UAE access to these sites and the content they contain is blocked.
Voice Over Internet Protocol calling
VoIP is a service that is offered by companies and applications such as Whatsapp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. These parties also offer video calling capabilities in their system and software. In the UAE video calling is blocked to adhere to TRAs regulations.
Texting and voice calls are not completely banned, however. To use and access such services one has to register with the state owned ISP companies and grant access to their data and conversations to be monitored. This would call for content to be censored and blocked even during the call and any rule breaking could lead to imprisonment and fines. No providers have agreed to this yet and other companies such as Apple have removed such apps from their devices in order to comply with the TRA regulations.
Video calling is available on the BOTIM app which is designed in the UAE and does not face any censorship. Blocking outside applications is seen as a way to increase profits as these apps are offering a free service while BOTIM offers such services at premium rates.
Whatsapp and Skype can be used with a VPN in Dubai to allow for unmonitored conversations and secure data transfer. This is becoming increasingly common and the TRA has been blocking VPN sites from accessing servers in the country.
During the pandemic, however, Skype calls were allowed and are still in use but only on rare occasions and under heavy censorship.
In the UAE, common dating sites such as Tinder are blocked according to the TRA regulations. The sites are said to be against the ethical and moral values of the country and as such are blocked. Accessing the site through Etisalat leads to a blocked content message while Du users can still view pictures on the app. Chatting groups services and forums are still operational and only matrimonial sites are allowed. These are websites and content that are used when searching for a husband or a wife which is within the rules of the country and follow Sharia law.
Using a VPN in UAE allows such sites and content to be accessed completely within the country with users being able to interact with others in the app from different countries. By masking your address and encrypting content, VPN Dubai allows users to enjoy interactions worldwide.
Worldwide, online gambling has been gaining fame with games being created and cash prizes becoming larger. In the Emirates, however, any form of online gambling is banned. Anyone found guilty of gambling or running a gambling operation faces imprisonment and very heavy fines. In Dubai, gambling laws are less restrictive but only allow for gambling within the casino and no online gambling is allowed. Even cruise ships that dock in the marinas and harbors are required to close their casinos until they return to international waters. The use of VPN in UAE for gambling purposes has been on the rise with trends worldwide showing an increase in gambling sites and online services.
Restrictions on pornographic content abound on the whole internet. Age restrictions are advertised on all websites. This does not deter many and is not implemented. In the UAE and Dubai, all pornographic content is banned. The production of adult materials such as videos and pictures is prohibited and distribution of such material leads to heavy fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
This includes any content with nudity and magazines such as the Cosmopolitan and Playboy. Many however use VPN Dubai to circumvent such bans and access content. Possession and sharing of such content are punishable and many visitors have found themselves in trouble.
In Islam, any homosexual activity is a crime. In the UAE it is in the penal code and attracts very heavy punishment including death. The culture is very conservative and LGBTs face a lot of cruelty and punishment. This is not limited to individuals, accessing sites and content that contain homosexual materials also invites the same repercussions and the sites are heavily monitored. Chat rooms and forums are heavily monitored with some users getting harassed and even arrested.
Most have turned to use VPN Dubai to mask their identities and locations in such situations to be able to voice their concerns and to be heard.
Government and Religious Criticism
In Arab countries, the governments are seen as intolerable and very conservative with strict adherence to Sharia Law. Critics have been imprisoned and media controlled to such an extent that any broadcasts that are not validating the regimes are blocked and the producers either imprisoned or banished from the countries. More reporters are turning to VPN in UAE to get their stories out and expose certain issues within the leadership. This is difficult with regulations and monitoring making it difficult for such content to be accessed online.
With Islam as the major religion and very few different religions in the UAE, the TRA monitors the internet use on content that is against Islamic laws and is deemed to be against Islam. This regulation is not only for the protection of Islam. Any religious sectarianism is prohibited no matter the religion and is punishable through imprisonment and fines. It is seen as a way to prevent terrorism in any religious form and chat rooms, forums, and messaging services are heavily monitored.
Drugs and Cyber Crimes
Heavy monitoring in the UAE has its advantages, the prevalence of cybercrimes in the world has had less impact in the Emirates. Phishing and fraud activities are less likely to occur with addresses and content being monitored. Identity theft is punishable by imprisonment. The sale of drugs or advertisement of medication that is not legitimate incurs heavy fines.
The TRA was created to oversee all matters relating to the telecommunications and information technology industry in the region. The TRA administers the state-owned ISPs by blacklisting websites and issuing content takedown notices. The TRA can remove online content without judicial oversight, often by issuing takedown notices or by ordering websites to be blocked before criminal charges are filed with the police.
Most of the regulations came about as ways of prevent terrorist group messages and accounts being accessed by the public. These laws however are ambiguous and have larger spheres of influence that incorporate an extensive scope. Monitoring of political content and censorship on expression freedoms are justified in the TRA regulations. Content producers and individuals face prosecution if the TRA deems their views to be damaging to national unity or religious doctrines of Islam.
VPN in Dubai allows for the access of blocked content in the regions of the UAE and Dubai. TRA regulations and monitoring of ISP have led many to turn towards VPN in UAE to hide their addresses so as to receive content that is otherwise prohibited.
Visitors can use VPN in Dubai to access their Netflix accounts and social media services from their home regions while in Dubai or visiting the UAE. The average UAE citizen has access to 45% fewer titles on their Netflix account than the average citizen in Europe or the USA. The use of VPN Dubai allows accessing such content easily and enables the public to also be connected to the outside world.
This however comes with its consequences as the use of VPN in Dubai to access blocked content is illegal. Finding countries that will allow VPN Dubai to access their servers is also becoming difficult with the connections through ISP being monitored. Recent laws have been added to reduce the use of VPN in UAE. ISPs are used to block the use of VPNs as they are seen as fraudulent IP addresses that can be use to commit crime or prevent the discovery of crime.
The use of VPN together with access to banned or blocked content can lead to addition charges but none has been prosecuted.
Such high levels of security and monitoring make it ideal for raising a family with internet access is safe. Free access to the internet is more common in Dubai where the laws are less relaxed than other Emirates in the UAE. The use of VPN in Dubai is also more common and one is less likely to be arrested or fined. This however is more likely to happen in the tighter controlled larger UAE states that are more closed off to the world.
Visitors to the country should read up on laws within each Emirate and find out the best ways in which they can communicate with their loved ones through VPN in UAE. Accessing websites may be difficult but when used correctly a VPN in Dubai can allow access to work or entertainment from back home.