The Middle East is one of the most censored regions for cultural and religious reasons.
Thus, you need a VPN to access some streaming platforms, apps, and websites there, and NordVPN is the best VPN for the Middle East.
It has two relevant types of privacy-optimized servers; Double VPN and Obfuscated, which maintain your online anonymity in the region. You also get a kill switch against IP leaks, encryption to counter external interferences, and fast streaming speeds that can handle 4K streaming.
Besides NordVPN, other alternatives you can use include ExpressVPN (best for streaming), CyberGhost (largest server network), PureVPN (best for streaming live programming), and Surfshark (unlimited device connections).
So, if you live in the Middle East or are planning to travel there, read this to the end to learn how to access your favorite shows or websites without getting into trouble.
The 3 Top VPNs for the Middle East
CyberGhost has the largest server network (9000+) for the Middle East. It’s fast enough for streaming and torrenting and offers public Wi-Fi protection, encryption, and IP leak prevention. The VPN is compatible with Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, etc.
NordVPN has the best privacy features for the Middle East. This includes specialty servers like Double VPN, a kill switch for IP leak protection, and encryption against external threats. It’s fast enough for 4K streaming and works on smartphones, PCs, smart TVs, etc.
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN for the Middle East, perfect for streaming and torrenting. It also offers automatic obfuscation, military-grade encryption, and IP leak protection. You can unblock anything using its 3000+ servers on several devices.
There are protests in Iran following attacks on women for not wearing hijabs.
To quell the protests, the Iranian government censors the internet, and without a VPN, it’s hard for protesters to cover everything and share it with the world.
And that’s not all.
In other news, Saudi Arabia blocked Snapchat in 2018. Something similar happened during the Arab Spring in 2011 when many Middle Eastern governments blocked international media channels from broadcasting the riots in fear of their citizens starting a revolution.
Religion and culture also play a considerable role in enforcing censorship, so having a VPN saves you a lot of trouble in the Middle East. Fortunately, you’re in the right place to find the best VPN for the region.
Are You in the Middle East and Would Like to Bypass Censorship? Try These 5 VPNs
Try these VPNs whenever you’re in the Middle East and need to access restricted content or stay private online. Your safety may depend on it.
- NordVPN – Best Overall With Specialty Privacy Servers
- ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN With Automatic Obfuscation
- CyberGhost – Largest Server Network to Bypass Restrictions
- PureVPN – Best for Activists With Perfect Forward Secrecy
- Surfshark – Unlimited Device Connections + Affordable Price Plans
I used base internet speeds of 30 Mbps for all the speed tests, which is enough to handle 4K streaming. The faster your base internet speeds, the better!
The Best VPNs for Bypassing Censorship in the Middle East
People have been jailed in some Middle Eastern countries for saying something wrong on social media or accessing content considered immoral. Therefore, this review is important to keep out of trouble.
Here are the best VPNs for the Middle East.
NordVPN - Best Overall With Specialty Privacy Servers
NordVPN has 5500+ servers, with over 2000 in the US alone.
This makes it very efficient at unblocking content unavailable in the Middle East.
For example, Peacock TV isn’t available in the UAE. So, choosing any US server will allow you to stream all the Peacock TV movies and shows in Dubai without issues.
In the same breath, if you’re in another country outside the Middle East, say the UK, and would like to catch your favorite channels from back home, switch to a Middle East server, and you’ll have unfiltered access.
However, NordVPN only has servers in 3 Middle East countries: Cyprus, Israel, and Türkiye. That’s three less than Surfshark, which also offers Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia on top of those three.
But NordVPN stands out from the rest because of its privacy and online security-focused specialty servers, which only CyberGhost and PureVPN match. Besides the regular servers, there are three other types of NordVPN servers relevant in the Middle East:
- Obfuscated Servers: This hides VPN activity, bypassing firewalls and VPN traffic blocks which are commonly employed by authoritarian Middle East regimes to impede VPN users.
- Onion Over VPN Servers: This combines the privacy of a VPN and the anonymity of TOR to further make your activities more anonymous and harder to track in the Middle Eastern region.
- Double VPN: This encrypts your traffic twice by passing it through two random servers, making it hard for anyone to track you.
The only downside to using these specialty servers is that they’re not big on speed. For instance, NordVPN’s obfuscated servers only work with OpenVPN protocol which isn’t known for speeds. Only Double VPN works with all protocols but is still slower than standard servers. Onion over VPN works with OpenVPN and IKEv2, so the latter may sometimes give you decent speeds.
So, you may experience buffering if you use these servers for streaming or other bandwidth-intensive tasks. But suppose your sole purpose is to access sensitive material that may get you into trouble. In that case, you should use any of these servers for your safety.
Privacy & Security for Utmost Anonymity
Going hand-in-hand with the specialty servers are privacy and security features like the kill switch, encryption, and public Wi-Fi protection.
NordVPN has a reliable kill switch (two on Windows) that protects your actual IP from leaking if the VPN connection drops.
NordVPN’s industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption is vital in keeping all external parties from snooping in on your activities. This includes the government, your ISP, or even hackers.
Furthermore, the encryption combines with public Wi-Fi protection to keep you safe when using public networks. After all, you never know who could be stalking the network you’re using, and some network admins are notorious for snooping/invasive data collection too.
NordVPN is located in Panama, making sense for data privacy.
Since Middle East countries love keeping tabs on what their citizens/residents do online, they may force a VPN provider in their jurisdiction to collect/give up user information. Since Panama isn’t part of any surveillance alliances or in the reach of Middle Eastern governments, anyone trying to get their hands on your info can only gnash their teeth in despair.
Furthermore, NordVPN’s strict user logging policy means it can’t be forced to give up this information because it doesn’t collect such.
This is also ideal for fast downloads if you’re trying to torrent through NordVPN’s P2P servers.
These speeds are influenced by the NordLynx protocol, which is the fastest protocol in its arsenal. Furthermore, NordVPN has been upgrading its servers to accommodate the ever-increasing needs of its users.
NordVPN has native Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux apps.
You can also use it on certain routers, game consoles, and smart TVs.
This makes it a convenient Middle East VPN as it’s compatible with any available device to ensure secured connections.
In addition, you can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously.
This is a little short of what Surfshark offers but enough to keep your core devices covered.
The price plans are pretty decent, too, falling between Surfshark and ExpressVPN’s offerings. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee and these fantastic discounts.
ExpressVPN - Fastest VPN With Automatic Obfuscation
ExpressVPN is another popular premium VPN to grab if you’re in the Middle East or outside and want to access Middle Eastern content.
In terms of the server network size, ExpressVPN is dwarfed by all the rest, especially PureVPN and CyberGhost. But there’s one reason it’s second on my list: Automatic obfuscation.
While all the other alternatives (except CyberGhost) offer obfuscation, ExpressVPN’s is unique. Its obfuscation works with all protocols and servers without affecting your speeds. So, you get the ultimate protection against VPN surveillance in the Middle East without losing all-important speeds.
The best bit is that you don’t have to activate the feature manually.
The moment ExpressVPN is connected, you’re good to go.
For those going to Qatar for the World Cup, you may be shocked that WhatsApp, Skype, Duo, Viber, and FaceTime are blocked.
If you depend on those apps for communication, you better get an ExpressVPN subscription before flying out.
ExpressVPN has 4 servers in the Middle East, namely Egypt, Türkiye, Cyprus, and Israel. That’s slightly better than NordVPN, which only has three servers in the region but is still short of CyberGhost with 8.
Privacy & Security for Utmost Anonymity
Like all the other VPNs on this list, ExpressVPN takes care of all your privacy and security concerns. The first approach is with the Network Lock kill switch that quickly shuts down your internet access when the VPN connection drops.
This connection drop can happen when you switch from Wi-Fi to mobile data or when you experience a network blackout. You’ll get access to the internet once the VPN is back on. Thus, protecting your actual IP address from leaking during that disconnection window.
Furthermore, the industry-standard encryption blocks all external interference from the government, ISPs, hackers, and other third parties invested in tracking your online footprints. Encryption also keeps you safe when using public networks notorious for session hijacking, cookie hijacking, man-in-the-middle, and other forms of cyberattacks.
ExpressVPN doesn’t store user data. In fact, everything you do online in the Middle East is wiped off its servers once you’re done using the VPN.
Moreover, like PureVPN, this VPN provider is based in the British Virgin Islands and isn’t part of any surveillance alliances. You can rest easy knowing your government can’t have access to any of your user data, no matter the threats it issues ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN was the fastest option on this list, with an average speed of 28 Mbps. You can stream any content you want in the highest quality possible, whether inside or outside the Middle East.
The speeds also apply to torrenting; you won’t have to wait too long for your files to complete downloading.
Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN relies on a specific protocol for its incredible speeds: the Lightway UDP protocol. It’s optimized for speed while still offering top-of-the-shelf security and privacy. You can quickly switch to this protocol in the settings across all devices.
Additionally, ExpressVPN keeps improving its existing servers to handle heavy usage from a growing user base. So, even crowded servers won’t affect the performance very much.
Combined, that’s how a VPN with only 3000+ servers can blow everyone else out of the water with speed.
You can install ExpressVPN on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, smart TVs (via Mediastreamer), gaming consoles, routers, and TV boxes like Kodi. In addition, you can secure up to 5 devices simultaneously, enough for a small household or people with a handful of devices.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay a significant amount for ExpressVPN.
It’s the most expensive VPN, but it offers respite through its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Furthermore, you can grab a subscription using these fantastic discount deals. But they won’t last for long, so you better hurry.
CyberGhost - Largest Server Network to Bypass Restrictions
CyberGhost has the largest server network on this list (8800+ servers) with PureVPN a close second. Of these, 1300+ servers are located in the US. Therefore, you can easily unblock most streaming sites, apps, and websites in the Middle East.
For instance, if you’re in Saudi Arabia and want to access Pornhub or VPN websites using any of these servers, choose a US server, and you’ll be in immediately. But you’ll have to be careful since CyberGhost is the only alternative without obfuscation on this list.
So, if anyone decides to go after VPN users, chances are high that you’ll be nabbed. Likewise, you may be susceptible to VPN traffic blocks and network firewall restrictions which an obfuscation protocol should fight against.
Furthermore, CyberGhost has specialty streaming and torrenting servers. Finding the right server with other regular VPNs is usually a hustle since there’s no way of telling if it’s fast or not. CyberGhost makes things easier and even goes as far as providing servers for specific streaming platforms.
It’s also the VPN with the most servers in the Middle East, featuring eight (two more than the closest competitors, Surfshark and PureVPN).
You get servers in Egypt, Türkiye, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Cyprus, and Iran here.
Privacy & Security for Utmost Anonymity
CyberGhost offers a kill switch for IP/DNS leak prevention across all platforms. When your VPN protection drops, a complete internet shutdown eliminates the risk of your actual IP getting exposed until the connection is re-established. That’s a little inconvenient but necessary, considering the punishment of being caught streaming porn, for example.
There’s also a public Wi-Fi protection feature that works alongside military-grade encryption to prevent a traffic breach on public networks.
Encryption also prevents snooping by the ISP or the government, and it’s automatically activated every time the VPN is connected.
CyberGhost is based in Romania, a non-surveillance member, meaning no law on earth can force the VPN provider to hand over your data.
Furthemore, a strict no-logging policy ensures CyberGhost’s servers are wiped clean when you’re done with your activities, leaving no trace behind.
This is particularly useful for users in the Middle East, where heavy censorship and data monitoring is the order of the day.
CyberGhost averaged 26 Mbps like NordVPN, thanks to the streaming and torrenting-dedicated servers. The WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols also had a role to play as well as the upgrading of servers, something CyberGhost has been doing through the years to meet growing user demand.
With these speeds, you can comfortably stream 4K content on blocked platforms like Peacock TV and listen to hi-res music on Qobuz or Pandora Radio from anywhere in the Middle East. Just connect to a server in countries that support these platforms.
CyberGhost works on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, game consoles, routers, TV boxes, smart TVs, and some routers.
Furthermore, you can connect up to 7 devices simultaneously, more than ExpressVPN and NordVPN. This should take care of your needs, including your friends and family who also want reliable unblocking + premium online security in the Middle East.
The VPN doesn’t cost a lot either, and it’s the only option that offers a 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s 14 days extra than the nearest competitor, PureVPN.
If CyberGhost meets your needs, grab these exclusive discounts while they still last.
PureVPN - Best for Activists With Perfect Forward Secrecy
If you want to catch CNN or BBC news in Bahrain, you need a VPN with proper unblocking capabilities and a vast server network. PureVPN can easily live up to that.
With 6500+ servers in 78+ countries, you can unblock restricted websites, streaming platforms, and dating apps without getting into trouble with the authorities.
But that’s not all. Like CyberGhost, PureVPN is the only other VPN on this review that offers streaming-dedicated servers. They’re not as detailed as CyberGhost’s, but they take away the hassle of individually testing servers to find the right one.
PureVPN is also adept at streaming Live events. If you’ve tried any live event, you understand how important a stable and reliable connection is since a single buffer can cause you to miss the most significant bits.
Finally, you can use obfuscation automatically on the OpenVPN protocol to hide your VPN activity from DPIs. However, unlike ExpressVPN, your connection speed will take a hit. Therefore, only use this for activities that don’t require speed, like online dating apps or opening censored blogs.
For those outside the Middle East, PureVPN has six servers in the region.
These are in the UAE, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Oman, Türkiye, and Bahrain. That grants you access to local content in the region, even if it doesn’t cover as many locations as CyberGhost.
Privacy & Security for Utmost Anonymity
First, you get a convenient Secure Wi-Fi feature to access any website you need on public networks without hackers breaching your traffic or the network admins snooping on your online activities.
This works alongside state-of-the-art encryption to keep all the other external influences (especially your ISP) from messing with your traffic.
This way, you can stream and download anything without speed throttles.
Furthermore, you get a solid kill switch that disconnects your internet anytime your VPN connection is interrupted. This ensures your actual IP address remains hidden until the VPN connection is restored.
For activists in Iran, PureVPN’s Perfect Forward Secrecy can ensure all your activities remain secured in the unforeseeable future by maintaining the current protections if things change with the VPN’s policies.
This would’ve benefited Saad Ibrahim Almadi, who just got slapped with 16 years in jail for a series of tweets he posted from Florida, criticizing the Saudi Government.
Stories like these make me appreciate the freedom of expression I have in my country.
Like ExpressVPN, PureVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands.
Therefore, the VPN provider isn’t legally obligated to cooperate with the Middle Eastern governments and provide information on what you do over its servers.
It’s also an audited no-logs VPN provider, meaning your online footprint is cleared every time you’re done with your PureVPN sessions.
So, do everything you need with confidence in any Middle Eastern country.
I got an average speed of 27 Mbps with PureVPN, slightly better than NordVPN and CyberGhost. With this, streaming 4K content in the Middle East shouldn’t be a problem. You can also handle fast downloads using torrenting servers to reduce waiting times.
PureVPN uses the WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols for super speeds while protecting your privacy from external snooping or interference.
The streaming and torrenting servers also play a huge role as they’re optimized for speed.
You can use PureVPN on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, gaming consoles, TV boxes, routers, and smart TVs. Couple this with the ten simultaneous device connections allowed by the VPN, and you have a handy tool to secure multiple devices for yourself, your friends, or family members.
Another piece of good news is that PureVPN is the cheapest VPN you’ll come across and offers a 31-day money-back guarantee, second after CyberGhost. Save more by taking advantage of these fantastic discounts before they run out.
Surfshark - Unlimited Device Connections + Affordable Price Plans
Surfshark wraps up our mini-reviews with 3200+ servers to unblock streaming sites, porn, dating apps, and any other thing blocked in the UAE, Yemen, Lebanon, and other Middle East countries.
Whether you want to catch up with the latest news around the world besides AlJazeera or watch movies and shows on Netflix US, Surfshark will help you achieve that with minimal hassle.
Furthermore, an obfuscation feature called Camouflage Mode keeps you off the radar of heavy surveillance seeking to clamp down on VPN usage.
But like most other options, this only works (automatically) with OpenVPN protocols, so your connection speed may get too slow for handling 4K streaming or fast torrenting. Therefore, limit your obfuscation activities to sensitive tasks like browsing censored blogs and social media platforms like Snapchat.
For those outside the Middle East, you can use any of Surfshark’s 6 servers, including the UAE, Israel, Türkiye, Egypt, Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia, the same as PureVPN and slightly less than CyberGhost.
Privacy & Security for Utmost Anonymity
Surfshark offers three critical privacy and security features to keep safe when accessing censored content in the Middle East.
There’s a kill switch for IP leak protection that disconnects the internet to stop your real IP from being seen when the VPN connection drops.
This is vital when dealing with a government that doesn’t take criticism well, something common in the Middle East. You don’t want a knock on your door because you said something negative about the government.
Secondly, there’s AES 256-bit encryption which stops online snooping from the government, your ISP, hackers, and other unauthorized third parties. There’s also a reliable public Wi-Fi protection feature to use public networks to access blocked content safely.
Surfshark is the only VPN on this list based in a country that’s part of the Fourteen Eyes countries: the Netherlands. But don’t let that spook you.
The VPN provider takes user privacy seriously, and that’s why it has a strict no-logging policy, never to save anything going through its servers.
However, I don’t know how it can deal with requests from the Dutch government to hand over sensitive user data. We’re yet to see any news on that happening, so that’s an assurance that everything is okay.
Surfshark is fast, averaging 27 Mbps to make it the joint second-fastest with PureVPN. This can handle all your streaming and torrenting needs in the Middle East.
The VPN provider has been upgrading its servers from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps, which explains why server overcrowding isn’t an issue, despite having only 3200 servers.
Surfshark also uses the WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols like PureVPN/CyberGhost to provide users with fast and secure encrypted tunnels. This means you can take on any bandwidth-intensive activity without worrying about ISP speed throttling.
You can use Surfshark on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, smart TVs, routers, consoles, and Kodi, among many other devices.
You can also connect unlimited devices simultaneously with the same account, making Surfshark perfect for large groups of activists, tourists, students, expats, or other users in the Middle East.
Furthermore, Surfshark is among the cheapest VPNs on this list, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. With these fantastic deals, it’ll be like getting it for free!
How to Set up a VPN for Use in the Middle East?
Have you decided on your best VPN for the Middle East? Mine’s still NordVPN, and here’s how you can set it up.
- Pay for a NordVPN subscription.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
- Launch the VPN and choose a server outside the Middle East.
- Open any streaming platform and start watching movies and shows.
How to Get a Middle East IP Address?
Are you from the Middle East but live in Europe, North America, or Africa and can’t access local channels from the Middle East? Here’s how you can get a Middle East IP address to watch what you want.
- Download and install NordVPN.
- Launch the VPN and connect to a Middle Eastern server location. It currently has 3 relevant servers in Cyprus, Turkey, and Israel.
- Start watching local content without restrictions.
Windscribe VPN is one of the few free VPNs with a Middle East server.
It comes with a UAE server to access restricted content in the region as much as you want.
However, it’s limited in many aspects, like obfuscation and streaming speeds.
So the VPN may not protect you from heavy censorship, and its connection speeds may not handle your streaming needs.
If you use a VPN in Saudi Arabia, chances are high that you may get into trouble when caught. However, this can only happen if the VPN you use lacks important privacy features like obfuscation to beat VPN detection. For this reason, always use a VPN with reliable obfuscation like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
NordVPN works in Saudi Arabia. However, it doesn’t offer any Saudi Arabian servers, so you can’t watch restricted local KSA content from outside the country.
But you can access restricted outside content from within Saudi Arabia by selecting any of the 5500+ global servers, depending on what you want to unblock.
It’s unsafe to use a free VPN in the Middle East for security and privacy reasons.
For example, free VPNs rarely adhere to a no-logging policy and make their money from selling user data to the highest bidder, including governments in the Middle East, which puts the user at risk. Likewise, free VPNs lack necessary features like obfuscation or public Wi-Fi protection, so you’ll be exposed.
VPN use is legal in the UAE. However, using a VPN to access restricted content within the UAE is illegal. This includes specific social media sites, porn sites, online dating apps, and some streaming platforms classified as immoral by the UAE government.
Therefore, if you intend to use a VPN for any of these activities, ensure it has reliable obfuscation to hide your VPN usage from UAE authorities.
It’s easy to take some freedoms for granted if you’ve never experienced heavy censorship. The Middle East continues to be one of the regions where freedoms are severely limited, so NordVPN is my best choice for all your online activities there.
The privacy-optimized servers, military-grade encryption, vast server network, IP leak protection, and device compatibility make it perfect for travelers and Middle Eastern citizens/residents.
Check out these fantastic discounts if you plan to use NordVPN next time you’re in the Middle East.