Qatar is one of the most highly-connected areas of the Arab region when it comes to the Internet, with roughly 86% penetration throughout the country. Despite the widespread use of Internet service, however, the Qatar government heavily monitors Internet activity and engages in blocking websites that are considered a threat to the Qatar telecom industry or the moral standards of the Arab region.
History of Qatar
The State of Qatar is technically a hereditary emirate, having been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800’s. It is a sovereign Arab state which borders Saudi Arabia and is separated by the Persian Gulf from other territories in the region.
The country was one of the poorest in the Arab region of Western Asia until gigantic oil and natural gas reserves were discovered in the country. These resources greatly improved the overall economy of the State and created a fertile ground for the eventual establishment of Internet service.
Internet in Qatar
Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is the only technology company licensed and authorized in Qatar to provide Internet and telecommunications services. The Internet is highly regulated in Qatar and the government maintains a semblance of control by restricting the providing of Internet service to Qtel
Comparatively few households in Qatar have Internet in their home. A majority of Internet access is obtained through public networks available in Internet cafes and such. Oddly enough, some of these cafes are able to bypass many of the restrictions placed on Internet access by the government, and a recent study found that a large percentage of Qatar youth were spending their summer vacations accessing the Internet in these public cafes and browsing pornographic websites.
Internet filtering in Qatar
Qatar mainly accomplishes censoring of the Internet through its state-owned ISP, Qtel. Specific websites can be blocked, and email and chat transmissions can be monitored easily through the State’s servers. These restrictions provide an overall level of concern for those who want to protect their privacy, especially for those who might be from other countries and are working in the Arab region.
At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in Qatar:
- VoIP networks such as Skype. These communications networks are not easily monitored by the State and are also a threat to the nation’s telecom revenue.
- Gay, Lesbian, and pornographic websites. These kinds of sites are considered a violation of the moral values associated with Islam.
- Dating sites. A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable.
It is also common to find certain political sites blocked in these areas. The Arab region has been a hotbed of security concerns in regards to terrorism. This has led to an increased desire to monitor the browsing activities of Internet users in Qatar. The bottom line is that the government in Qatar can block any website it chooses, without notice, and offer no explanation for the action they have taken.
Unblocking websites in Qatar
While some may think using an Internet Café in Qatar is a safe option for viewing restricted websites, this can be risky. The only genuine way to unblock restricted websites in Qatar is by using a VPN account like the one offered here.
A VPN is very effective in allowing Internet users to access Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, and a host of other services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer which are not available in Qatar. A VPN gives you an added level of security in addition to making these websites available, and that added security is something you will not find in an Internet Café.
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