A great deal of the internet is blocked or banned for those in Qatar. Censorship is an issue in many countries, China being a fine example, and Qatar is no different. The internet in Qatar is filtered and blocks are placed on certain content to keep it in line with the country’s religious and political views.
Anything related to pornography, dating, LGBT issues or sexual health is blocked, as is content deemed hateful to Islam or critical of the government. The parameters for some categories are so strict that websites with inoffensive content sometimes get blocked, too.
Netflix arrived in Qatar in 2016, much to the delight of its citizens, but not all shows and movies available on the U.S. version can be viewed there due to licensing issues. If you want to access the whole selection you’ll need a VPN with a server in the U.S. Take a look at our best VPN for Netflix piece for recommendations. Popular VoIP services, such as Skype, FaceTime, Duo, WhatsApp and Viber, are also blocked. The government says it is restricting them because they do not have licenses to operate in Qatar. News websites can get blocked for publishing material deemed offensive or questionable. As a consequence, journalists self-censor themselves on topics such as Islam, government policies and the Qatari ruling family.
With Qatar’s cybercrime law and penal code, people can get in trouble for making statements that could harm someone’s reputation. In addition to that, Qatar’s criminal code says it is illegal to insult another person. This applies even to comments made on social media or through private means such as email or WhatsApp.
The cybercrime law was introduced in 2014 and states that anyone who commits libel or slander against another person online can face punishment of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 Qatari riyals ($27,000).
Interestingly, Qatar subsidizes the world famous TV station Al Jazeera, which isn’t shy about criticizing regional governments. It focuses more on regional and international news than local news, though. You can read more about it in our best VPN for Al Jazeera article.
Why Should You Use A VPN In Qatar?
Bypass Geo Restrictions
Major companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or HBO can limit access to their services or products based on location, hence making half of the world happy and leaving the other dissatisfied. These IP address based blocks don’t fit well with users who demand to have the same access as users in the US, for example, so they use a VPN to do the unblocking for them.
To Protect Your Privacy
With the rise of hacking attacks and computer frauds, privacy has become impossible to maintain. You cannot not use the internet, and once you do, you’re subjecting yourself to all kinds of online risks and threats. Fortunately, a VPN’s main function is to allow users to securely access the internet through a private network. In short, a virtual private network protects your data online.
Unblocking Internet Censorship
VPNs are the perfect tools for getting around internet censorship. If you ever encounter a blocked website or find yourself in a country that censors the Internet, use a VPN to gain access to the information or entertainment you seek.
What Makes A VPN The Best For Qatar?
VPNs have many features, with some being more important than others in Qatar. First, you should look for great security to make sure you are protected from surveillance, online policing and cyberattacks. In addition, it should provide a Kill Switch, which will sever your connection if the VPN fails in order to keep your data safe.
Your privacy is just as important and good security alone will not ensure it. Pick a provider that has a no-logs policy. That means it won’t keep a record of your online activities, so it won’t be able to provide one should the authorities ask.
Choosing one with many servers in different countries will give you a better chance of bypassing censorship and geo-blocks. If you want to access content restricted to Qatar, you should make sure it has servers there, too.
Speed is another important element, as a fast VPN will keep you from having to take a coffee break every time you try to load something. It is especially helpful for streaming. You should also make sure the provider offers unlimited bandwidth, too, so you can watch or download as much as you like. Other things to consider are how easy it is to use and what devices it supports. Good customer service is favorable and, depending on how fat your wallet is, its price may be the deciding factor.
Best VPNs For Qatar
NordVPN has built a robust reputation around privacy. Its network of more than 5,100 servers spans 62 countries with plenty of options in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia.
NordVPN’s fast speeds mean it is well-suited for streaming HD video. In our extensive user review, the service was easily able to circumvent blockades on sites such as US Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, and more. Users are offered a choice to select a server that optimizes certain tasks, including streaming HD video and double VPN.
NordVPN does not store any user data. Its servers have been confiscated on a couple of occasions but authorities couldn’t find any incriminating evidence. Security standards include 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN protocol, an Internet Kill Switch, and DNS leak protection. Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect concurrently.
Our second choice is ExpressVPN. It offers better security, so you should go with it if you will be doing anything sensitive online. It has a built-in Kill Switch and a strict no-logging policy, as well, so your online actions will be kept secret. It has many servers spread across 94 countries, but there aren’t any in Qatar. Its server switch time could be faster, though. It’s the fastest VPN on the market and doesn’t impose bandwidth limits, so as long as you’re not looking for Qatari content, it’s the best VPN for streaming.
ExpressVPN can be used on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. Plus, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Its clients are easy to use and it is a perfect choice for those who have no experience with VPNs as it works straight out of the box.
Its customer service is good, but slower than that of its competitors. Live chat is available 24/7 or you can email your question. The staff is helpful either way. A downside to ExpressVPN is its price. It’s more expensive than its rivals, but you can save money by subscribing for a longer period. It offers a great service and, for extra peace of mind, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost is a hardy VPN provider that delivers a robust product at affordable prices. Its service has also significantly improved in recent months, particularly after a change of ownership last year. At the moment, it offers a little over 3,000 servers spread across 60 countries.
This provider’s streaming and unblocking capabilities are one of its strong suits. The VPN client helps guide you through the process of picking a server to unblock specific streaming services, including US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and many more. Just select “Unblock Streaming” mode on the main screen and follow the step-by-step instructions.
CyberGhost doesn’t compromise on privacy either. It offers 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet Kill Switch, and DNS leak protection. Additional security features that ship as standard are an ad blocker and anti-malware defense.
This provider doesn’t store any user data, including IP addresses or similar data points that could identify individual users. You can access the service on Android, iOS, Windows, or MacOS. A single subscription allows for seven devices to connect concurrently.
PrivateVPN has quickly managed to establish a meaningful reputation for itself in the VPN industry, despite its status as a relative newcomer. It delivers fast speeds with solid encryption protocols to back that up.
Its focus on quality over quantity means the server offering is relatively tiny – with just under 90 servers in 56 locations – but it does its job very well. Some of the sites it unblocks easily are Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video.
Strong security and privacy features are a hallmark of this provider. Users can opt for either 128- or 256-bit encryption and are also offered perfect forward secrecy, an internet Kill Switch, and DNS leak protection. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect at the same time. The provider offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
IPVanish scores points on both speed and privacy. It is one of the few VPN providers that independently operates its entire network of servers – most services either outsource or rent space. At the time of writing, it has 1,100 servers in over 60 countries.
Military-grade encryption protocols are shipped with all subscription tiers. Web traffic is secured with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and an Internet Kill Switch. IPVanish doesn’t store any user data, meaning there’s no retention of traffic or connection logs of any nature.
IPVanish is a known favorite with torrenters and Kodi users for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it enables them to download the Android APK directly to their device. Secondly, the interface is remote control-friendly for Kodi devices that usually lack a keyboard and mouse. It works with streaming media sites such as BBC iPlayer.
This provider allows 10 devices to connect concurrently, which is significantly higher than the industry standard of five. Another valuable upgrade is its addition of 24/7 live chat for customer support. It offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.
Qatar is fairly a free country, however, that does not make accessing the full internet less hard. These internet restrictions are keeping Qatari citizens from enjoying great online content. Maintaining privacy and bypassing geo restrictions are reasons why many internet users in Qatar resort to VPN services. After declaring the country as an ‘information-open zone’ there is hope that internet monitoring and censorship will end one day. Until that day comes, VPNs will do.