UAE: How many VPN apps were downloaded in 2023?

Under Article 10 of the country's Cyber Law, people misusing VPNs could face imprisonment and a fine between Dh500,000 to Dh2 million


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sun 12 Mar 2023, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Sun 12 Mar 2023, 7:18 PM

The usage of virtual private networks (VPNs) was the highest in the UAE last year, despite a drop of over 16 per cent, according to new findings.

The adoption rate stood at 43.18 per cent last year in the UAE, followed by Qatar (39.2 per cent), Singapore (37.11 per cent), Saudi Arabia (27 per cent) and Oman (26.54 per cent), said research from Digital Adoption, quoting Atlas VPN data.

The adoption rate shows what percentage of the country's population downloaded VPN services in 2022.

The usage of VPN in the UAE is not illegal if it's used as per the guidelines of the UAE government and the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).

However, using VPNs for illegal means or to commit a crime is a serious offence under the UAE Decree Law No (34) of 2021 concerning combating rumours and cybercrimes.

Also, using a VPN by hiding the IP address to get access to websites/calling applications/gaming applications which are blocked by the UAE government is illegal.

Under Article 10 of the UAE Cyber Law, people misusing VPNs could face imprisonment and a fine between Dh500,000 to Dh2 million.

VPN use had increased dramatically in the UAE and GCC during the pandemic year but has declined in the past couple of years.

The study revealed that the adoption rate has dropped from 61.6 per cent in 2020 to 59.5 per cent in 2021, and further to 43.2 per cent last year.

A total of 4.27 million VPN apps were downloaded in the UAE in 2022 as compared to 4.88 million in the previous year and 6.1 million in 2022.

ExpressVPN is the most searched service. It far outranked competitors, pulling in 28.2 per cent of total searches. In second place is NordVPN, which pulled in less than half of that search percentage at nearly nine per cent.


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