Saudi Arabia ranks extremely low regarding internet freedom, with a slew of websites and social media apps blocked in the country. Additionally, bloggers have been arrested and imprisoned for criticizing the Saudi Arabian government and its authoritarian policies.
According to advocacy group Freedom House, the country’s internet landscape is “not free,” with authorities constantly attempting to stifle online commentary and access to content. That is likely one of the reasons why more than 30% of Saudi internet users use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the internet in the Middle Eastern country.
Popular VoIP applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime are all blocked.
With the help of a suitable VPN, you can safeguard your privacy and gain access to blocked online content and applications (note that not all VPNs work in Saudi Arabia).
Using a VPN ensures your online safety and security. By encrypting all traffic to and from your device and routing it through an intermediary server located outside your current location, the software conceals your true location. This means that hackers and surveillance agencies will have a difficult time prying.
VPN is also a good option for international expats residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who seek to access local content such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Sky Sports, or BeIN Sports from their home country.
Best VPN for Saudi Arabia
Our suggestion for the best VPN for Saudi Arabia takes the following things into account:
- Service reliability and speed.
- Expats may use a vast network of servers located across the globe to unblock restricted content.
- Encryption settings that are strong enough to ensure online privacy and anonymity.
- Convenience of usage.
- Android and iOS applications.
NordVPN has been around for over a decade and has used that expertise to amass a devoted community of followers worldwide. While the app may seem clumsy and inconvenient, this does not reflect the app’s fundamental offering, which has flawless speeds and security settings. NordVPN’s long-term internet users swear by it.
NordVPN is the latest VPN provider to implement a no-logs policy. This simply implies that it is devoid of information on user sessions, traffic, or timestamps.
Official demands for user data have been made to the corporation by government monitoring agencies. However, due to the policy, it was unable to comply, and user information remained concealed. In one incident, agents seized servers to completely clean them, but they were unable to extract any information. Advocates for privacy will be pleased. Additionally, NordVPN is incorporated in Panama, which exempts it from any data retention laws, implying that the policy is unlikely to change.
The company maintains 1081 servers in several countries, making it an ideal choice for virtually any type of web activity. It is one of the few VPN providers that categorizes servers according to their suitability for specific purposes such as anti-DDoS, video streaming, double VPN, Tor over VPN, or dedicated IP.
NordVPN is compatible with the majority of popular online streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It is torrent compatible.
By default, the company encrypts internet traffic using the 256-bit AES protocol and 2,048-bit SSL keys. Protection against DNS leaks is enabled. These characteristics elevate it to the top tier of VPN services, which means you can relax if you’re concerned about online privacy or anonymity.
There are apps available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
How about a no-cost VPN?
It’s alluring to choose a free VPN since you’re not required to sign up with a credit card and there are often no monetary transactions. However, you should not expect to receive the same speeds, encryption standards, or customer service.
VPNs that are available for free are in the business of earning money. These are incorporated businesses that must cover the costs of employee wages, office space, server upkeep, and other overheads. As a result, when the product is free, you become the product.
Numerous instances have been reported of free VPNs abusing their power by tracking and stealing your data, selling it to third-party advertisers, and inundating you with intrusive advertisements. Additionally, since you’re linked to a vulnerable network, you risk contracting malware. Additionally, your device may be unknowingly employed as a piece in a vast botnet army (more on this later).
If you’re unsure whether you require a VPN, take a look at our suggestion for the best VPN that offers a free trial. It enables you to evaluate the service for a few days and determine whether or not the software is a good fit for you. However, we advise you to stay away from the random ones that exist on the interwebs. There is more to the story than meets the eye.
Some VPNs to avoid
One of the reasons people use a VPN is to ensure their privacy and anonymity. We’ve discussed this extensively throughout the article: VPN providers share a similar commitment to respecting their users’ wishes and not trying to deceive them. Regrettably, some businesses have a history of showing no concern at all. In this section, we’ll tell you about two VPN services that willingly sell or hand over user data. That, we feel, is a significant ethical infraction and serves as a warning to prevent them in the future.
There is evidence that PureVPN worked with law enforcement agencies to assist in identifying one of its users.
PureVPN and the FBI teamed together after an unidentified 24-year-old woman submitted a complaint alleging that she had fallen victim to an internet blackmailing plan. She thought that her roommate, Ryan Lin, was guilty.
The FBI traced the online activity back to PureVPN, which then identified the perpetrator using its logs. Ryan was detained. While PureVPN maintains that it did not record the content of its communications, it did maintain a ‘no-logs’ policy. There is a legitimate question about how ethical they may have acted.
Israel-based Hola, which created and maintained a popular VPN extension for the Chrome browser, grew to a staggering 50 million users. Regrettably, it was not content with furthering the community’s gender equality. Rather, it chose to obliterate its reputation and goodwill by unethically exploiting its user base by using them as pawns in a massive botnet army.
This meant that users of Hola had a portion of their internet bandwidth siphoned off without their knowledge or consent for coordinated attacks on other sites, illegal promotion of copyrighted content, and possible distribution of pornography.
The remainder is up to you.
It’s critical to note that we never condone the use of VPNs to commit acts that are expressly prohibited by a country’s laws. However, we believe that VPN providers must be transparent and open with their users. If it does monitor user data, even in limited instances, it must be transparent and honest about it. It is unacceptable to violate this trust by giving over data or hijacking HTTP requests.
How can I maintain an anonymous blog in Saudi Arabia?
Raif Badawi, a liberal Saudi blogger, was detained five years ago for supporting free speech and criticizing his country’s course. He remains imprisoned to this day, despite the fact that his wife and kids have relocated to Canada.
Abu Sin, a young YouTuber, was detained in another instance after footage of him online speaking with a female buddy in California went viral. Local police indicated that his actions was “unethical,” and that this was the grounds for his detention.
Saudi Arabia’s law enforcement authorities are not amenable to discourse that deviates from state-sanctioned rules. Any alleged deviations from the devout Islamic way of life are likewise scorned. If you’re wanting to create a blog in Saudi Arabia, we suggest that you utilize a VPN to safeguard your identity.
Please be aware that PrivacyExplore does not condone violating local laws, whether or not via the use of a VPN. Please do study the probable consequences of your actions before continuing down this route. Consult a lawyer if required; he or she may be able to give more detailed counsel.
Will Saudi Arabia ever have free internet?
In Saudi Arabia, more than 70% of inhabitants have access to the internet. It is an amazing figure, elevating it to one of the world’s most technologically linked nations.
Regrettably, residents can only access a small portion of the web. According to The Guardian, Saudi Arabia leads the area in terms of internet censorship, using sophisticated filters to restrict content and monitor online activity.
According to Freedom House, websites that include “harmful,” “illegal,” “anti-Islamic,” or “offensive” information are likely to be prohibited. Additionally, online sites espousing extremist ideas or criticizing the Saudi royal family are included as criteria.
New anti-terrorism legislation enacted in 2014 has resulted in heightened vigilance over internet activities as well. Citizens may face disciplinary action for simply liking or commenting on postings that might be considered detrimental to the state.
The state often patronizes pro-government websites and magazines, providing considerable help to such journalists. On the other hand, any indication of criticism is accompanied by tremendous financial constraints, since the Saudi government makes every effort to limit the publication’s cash source.
We advocate using a VPN in Saudi Arabia to access the web privately and securely.
VPNs in Saudi Arabia FAQs
Are VPNs legal in Saudi Arabia?
VPNs are not prohibited in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Using a VPN to conduct an unlawful act, on the other hand, is categorically not legal. More information about the legality of VPNs in Saudi Arabia may be found here.
Is video conferencing secure in Saudi Arabia?
In 2013, Saudi Arabia prohibited VoIP services, which include phone and video communications done over the internet. Later that year, such limitations were abolished. With or without a VPN, you may now use WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, and other internet calling applications in Saudi Arabia. Keep in mind that the KSA government may still monitor when and when you use VoIP applications, so if you want to avoid leaving a trace of a call, a VPN is still required.
Is Facebook private in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
In any case, whether in Saudi Arabia or not, it would be impossible to classify Facebook as private. Obviously, whatever you publish on Facebook is public.
Additionally, Facebook will comply with legitimate legal requests for data on and about Saudi Arabian accounts.
According to Facebook, the KSA government has made three requests for data since 2013, with one of them being granted. Additionally, the KSA submitted six “preservation requests” covering a total of ten accounts. According to Facebook, when a preservation request is filed, “[…] we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process.”
Is it permissible to use my phone in Saudi Arabia?
Yes, in Saudi Arabia, you are permitted to use your phone or smartphone.
If you’re going from another country, you’ll almost certainly need to get a SIM card from a local operator, unless you’ve activated international roaming with your current provider. This requires an unlocked phone that operates on a GSM network.
To register a new SIM card in the KSA, you may be required to present identification and five fingerprints.
How can I set up a VPN connection in Saudi Arabia?
It’s simple to use a VPN in Saudi Arabia. However, we suggest that you sign up for and download the VPN app of your choice before traveling, in case it is banned upon arrival.
Once you’ve signed up and downloaded your VPN provider’s app on your device, all you have to do is open it, choose a location, and connect. After a few seconds, your connection to the VPN server will be safe, and you will be able to browse the internet anonymously and access banned content.
Would you suggest a KSA VPN to a friend?
No, we do not endorse KSA VPN or any other free VPN service for that matter. With a KSA VPN, you’re likely to be inundated with advertisements. Indeed, some free VPNs profit from recording and selling your personal data. This includes your browser data as well. Additionally, it’s worth noting that KSA VPN has a large user base but relatively few servers or regions. As a result, the connection is very sluggish, making it unsuitable for streaming.
Is streaming music legal in Saudi Arabia?
Yes, streaming music is entirely legal in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the nation is home to many of the most popular music streaming services. Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer are all included. Naturally, if any streaming services are geo-restricted owing to copyright and licensing issues, you may always use a VPN to circumvent the limitations. This is accomplished by connecting to a VPN server located in another country, such as the United States.