Are UAE Residents Permitted to Use VPN in the Country?

  • Publish date: Monday، 05 February 2024
Are UAE Residents Permitted to Use VPN in the Country?

Residents in the UAE have the authorization to utilize Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), according to Muhammad Al Kuwaiti, the Head of Cybersecurity for the UAE Government.

Al Kuwaiti emphasized that while there is no objection to the use of VPNs, the concern lies in their misuse of illicit activities. The country's cybersecurity chief conveyed this message at the G[P]RC Summit, underscoring the importance of responsible VPN usage.

Despite the UAE experiencing a surge in VPN application downloads in 2023, with figures surpassing those of the pandemic year in 2020, authorities have expressed the need for responsible utilization. The Global VPN Adoption Index by Atlas VPN reported a record number of downloads, attributing the increase to the rising popularity of VPNs among UAE residents.

To curb potential misuse, the UAE has implemented Decree Law No (34) of 2021, which addresses rumors and cybercrimes. The law considers the use of VPNs for illegal activities, committing crimes, or circumventing government-imposed restrictions as serious offenses. Violators may face imprisonment and fines ranging from Dh500,000 to Dh2 million.

Nord Security highlighted that VPNs are commonly used by UAE and Gulf residents for making audio-video calls through platforms like WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, Discord, IMO, and various dating apps. The UAE witnessed a notable increase in VPN app downloads, reaching 6.1 million in the previous year.

Discussing cybersecurity challenges, Al Kuwaiti pointed out the growing complexity of risks, emphasizing the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in cyberattacks. He noted that AI is employed by malicious entities to craft phishing emails and create and verify codes for infiltration. Despite these challenges, the UAE aims to become an AI nation by 2071, leveraging AI in both cyber defense and policy-making.

Al Kuwaiti acknowledged the collaborative efforts with partners to safeguard infrastructure, emphasizing the UAE's commitment to flexible and conducive policies that foster business success in an ever-evolving global landscape.