Only in Dubai: A VPN as Illegal as Porn

On Thursday, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), an organization that regularly bans websites within the Emirates, declared that subscribing to a UK based Virtual Private Network (VPN) is as illegal as ‘smuggled DVDs or pornography.'


GTS supplies a VPN that allows users in the UAE to access websites and Voice Over IP (VoIP) services blocked by the TRA. The banned sites range from pornographic to political. Other sites, like Orkut, have also been blocked because they may promote dating. Recently, rumors spread in Dubai that Facebook had been banned, though the site's failure to work in the UAE turned out to be a technical error (more here ). With so much worry over bans in the UAE, it is little surprise that a company like GTS has emerged.

When asked about the TRA's ability to disable the use of VPNs used to circumvent bans, a TRA spokesman, speaking to, was evasive. So GTS' future in the UAE is unclear for now but one thing is certain, as long as countries continue to ban internet content, there will be business opportunities in delivering it.


Lee Nunley
Middle Eastern Innovations Writer

Nov 14, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

i am extremely super sick

i am extremely super sick and tired of the government and the authorities in all
of the uae areas and i have officially banned all future business with all of everybody in all of the areas comprehensively

Jan 18, 2009
by Anonymous

Use your own VPN

If you are a foreigner planning a trip to the UAE, and have the right kind of broadband access back home, you can create your own VPN server with Windows XP or Vista professional and use that, and the TRA will not be as likely to detect it.