VPN legal?

What may happen if I get caught using a VPN in the UAE?
So the story is I coming to Dubai from Kuwait on business for a short period of time and the thing is I always use VPNs for work purposes but one of my friends told me that using VPN might get me in trouble is that right? I mean I understand it can be forbidden to access blocked websites or committing a crime but what about friendly use cases? I, for example, use Nordvpn to access the Netflix American library.
please let me know about the situation there since I don't really have friends in there and I don't want to get in any trouble. Thank you all!

It's illegal only of you use it for illegal and malicious activity. In any case if u use it just for Netflix streaming there is no malice here.

Look the statement of the law is as follows:

Any person that circumvents the protocol address of the internet by using a delusive address or an address belonging to others or by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than (AED 150.000) and not exceeding (AED 500.000) or by any of these punishments.

Going by that, it is clear that if you are using it to commit a crime or to prevent discovery of a crime, it is illegal.

However, as is the case here, the laws are generally a bit ambiguous so can be applied to a wide spectrum of situations.

Here is an interpretation from Tamimi, one of the biggest law firms in the region:

The over-arching query that remains relates to exactly what is likely to be considered a crime for the purposes of this provision. In practical terms, a broad spectrum of offences could be captured by the prohibition on the use of a VPN to mask the commission of an offence. It is our expectation that the authorities are more interested in the likes of preventing access to nefarious content likely to damage the community (eg. recruitment videos for terrorist groups) than preventing otherwise law-abiding citizens from accessing foreign TV series that are not yet available in the UAE (eg. the latest series of Game of Thrones).

So even they are assuming that it should not be taken seriously for individuals who use it for purposes such as the one you have.  How does it work in reality?   Netflix is ok but if you use a VPN to post on anti-government sites or make comments critical of the Government or the rulers etc., that could be construed as a crime.  It has happened in the past in the UAE and the individuals were discovered & deported - stories like this come from time to time in the newspapers

However, having said that, using VPN on Etisalat / DU by individuals to access apps like Skype is against their terms of services and that discovery may lead them to cancelling your account - not very likely to happen but just saying.

According to Cybercrime Law number 9, police and authorities can take legal action against those who use illegal VPNs for other inappropriate activities. Therefore, if an Emirati citizen or an expat living in the UAE is using VPN for legitimate purposes, the use of the VPN itself would not be illegal.

if your comming to uae my advice is please do not connect your vpn from Dubai Airport.

The VPN is banned by the law in UAE esp. in Dubai, because they want to block the VOIP service providers like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and SnapChat which take up most of the communication ways in their daily personal life as well as in the business field.

Since the VOIP service provider takes most of the money from the people of UAE and neither of them are local companies that contribute to the increased economy of the UAE. This is not good both for the government and local telecommunication service provider, Etisalat and Du. As a result, the VOIP service apps are banned.

Note: After you reach here you can use your VPN  no once can trace you but please do not use your vpn in airport

Thanks & regards

jijosh

Hi all,
Very interesting topic and thank you for your detailed replies.
If I'm getting it right, it's illegal to use VPN for illegal purposes (very clear and guessable). But Am I risking prison and 150k AED to use VPN to use VOIP? (or worst case is to get my membership banned from telecom service providers?)

I would like to thank you in advance for your assistance.

Best regards,

Clarified that earlier.  For your situation, I wouldn't worry.

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