As far as countries in the Middle East are concerned, Qatar is thought to be one of the freest nations. However, you should take that with a grain of salt, because they do have a restrictive Internet compared to western nations. Because Qatar is an Islamic nation, it comes as no surprise that they would censor an array of content that they find culturally, religiously, and politically offensive. And though the government certainly has a powerful influence over Internet regulations, monitoring, and censorship programs, the burden of execution falls on the largest ISPs in the nation – namely Qtel, which used to be the only Internet provider in the country.
Reporters Without Borders ranked them 113rd out of 180 countries in their 2014 report, and have since dropped to 117th in 2016. However, they are not nearly as bad as neighboring countries. Having said that, users do still need to make sure that they secure their Internet connection and data with a VPN tunnel for a variety of reasons. As you might expect an Islamic nation to do, Qatar censors any content that they deem Pornographic, though their definition of pornography is wider than it is in western societies. It has been expanded to include many dating websites, homosexual content, and they even try to block services that help users evade governmental surveillance and censorship.
And even though Qatar’s constitution protects the freedom of speech, you’ll find that many times political messages are censored, especially content that satirizes, criticizes, or offends the government. By and large, censorship is facilitated through the use of DNS restrictions as opposed to surveillance techniques. However, there is a fair amount of governmental surveillance that leaves many feeling that they aren’t safe online. Reporters Without Borders has even posted information that claims Qtel – still the most powerful ISP in the nation – has the means to wiretap information flowing through other providers’ networks.
The Criticality of VPN Security
Because of the Internet climate in Qatar, it is absolutely essential to use a VPN tunnel when using the Internet in Qatar. On the surface, you might think that the best and only reason to use a VPN tunnel is to access restricted content. And it’s true that a VPN tunnel will help provide access to blocked websites and content services that restrict connections based on global IP address. There are other alternatives such as proxy servers and DNS services, but they do almost nothing to enhance your security.
A VPN tunnel gives the added benefits of security and anonymity. You see, a VPN tunnel encrypts data so that Qtel and the government won’t be able to view your data. In addition, it will also mask your IP address, so they won’t be able to trace your online browsing habits or log the websites you access. It is critical that you protect yourself online with encryption technologies, or you might just find that you attract the unwanted attention of the government.
VPN for Qatar – Top Picks:
One of the best ways to bypass the online restrictions applied in Qatar is using NordVPN’s obfuscation technology. This disguises VPN traffic to prevent others from blocking it. NordVPN offers high quality software that keeps your information protected and that lets you bypass the censorship blocks applied in Qatar, as well as any geo-restrictions that you may face. NordVPN is a zero logs provider, meaning that every aspect of your connection and activities remain private. You can connect to over 5000 servers in more than 50 countries.
VyprVPN is an attractive choice for users in Qatar who don’t want a service based in the US due to past NSA wiretapping scandals. They are owned by their parent company, Golden Frog, which is based out of Switzerland. Users will also love that they offer a free trial of their service, though it isn’t feasible for long term use since it has monthly data limits. Their service has some interesting features that other providers lack such as per-application tunnel routing, a VPN kill-switch, NAT firewall features, and up to 50GB of cloud storage.
However, their pricing model is different from most other competitors because they have different tiers of service. The most basic plan only allows one connection per account, but the premium service allows up to 3 simultaneous connections. In all reality, I would recommend using at least the pro version of their service, which can be purchased for only $6.25 per month.
ExpressVPN is another alternative for the top VPN for Qatar, and they offer a well-rounded service that is extremely fast and reliable. They guarantee 99% network and server uptime, and they boast servers in 78 countries around the world that will help users in Qatar find the fastest connections in nearby locations. Furthermore, users have up to a month to test their service due to their 30-day money back guarantee.
And they’ll help you browse the web with the peace of mind that your data is secure because they use the strongest security technologies such as AES-256 encryption. However, there are a few drawbacks. The largest drawback is that the company is based in the US. In addition, they cost more than other providers to compensate for the quality of their service and they only allow simultaneous connections between 1 computer and 1 handheld device per account.
PIA VPN is a great choice for users in Qatar who want to circumvent censhorship and unlock geo-restricted content. To date they operate 3,100+ servers in 24 countries, but there are two distinct advantages to their service. Firstly, they are one of the cheapest providers when users opt for an annual subscription, making the monthly cost only $3.33. In addition, they permit 5 simultaneous connections per account, ensuring that most, if not all, of your devices will be secured with strong encryption algorithms. Ancillary features of their service include a 7-day money back guarantee, DNS leak protection, and 24/7 customer support.
Surfshark is another high quality provider that uses strong encryption to protect your internet traffic. It is an ideal solution for users in Qatar, due to the security used and the advanced unblocking technology available. You can connect to servers in over 50 countries and with the Camouflage mode, you won’t have issues even in locations that place blocks over VPNs. Surfshark doesn’t keep any logs that could compromise the security of your data and it supports features like anti-malware protection and kill switch.