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Dubai: The UAE has the highest number of downloaded Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in the world for the first half of 2020, according to a recent global study.

A report published by the Atlas VPN also found that one out of every 2.58 people use a VPN service in the UAE. With a population of 9.89 million, the study discovered there were 3,829,729 people who downloaded VPN apps from January to June, indicating a penetration rate of 38.72 per cent.


The remaining top five countries with the highest number of downloads was Qatar with a VPN penetration rate of 27.95 per cent, Oman 23.82 per cent, Saudi Arabia 15.54 per cent and Kuwait at 13.01 per cent.

The lowest global VPN penetration rate was Madagascar 0.08 per cent, Kenya 0.31 per cent and Uzbekistan 0.60 per cent.

The Atlas VPN research team analysed and ranked 85 countries in terms of VPN penetration. The VPN penetration rate was calculated by adding up the total number of VPN downloads by country and dividing it by the country’s population. The report also noted that the VPN download data was extracted from Google Play Store and Apple App Store using the Sensor Tower service, which included 45 of the biggest VPN providers.


What is a VPN?

A VPN allows a user to bypass monitoring online by connecting to a virtual network. While there are some free VPN providers, many ad-free versions charge a monthly or yearly fee. This can vary significantly, depending on the speed and flexibility of the provider.

What does the law say?

Private individuals should only use legal VPN services or stand at a risk of facing millions of dirhams in fines.

The UAE Cybercrime Law No 5 of 2012, issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2012, includes stern punishments that could go up to a life sentence and/or a fine varying between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million depending on the severity and seriousness of the cybercrime.

While the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) previously stressed that the illegal use of VPN is against its policies, the police have also cautioned that legal action can be taken under Law Number 9 against users of VPN for any illegal activities.