The UAE, or United Arab Emirates, is one of the most affluent territories in the Arab region. As such, it is a region where the great majority of citizens have Internet access. Recent statistics have shown that 70% of the UAE’s population subscribe to one of the two Internet services offered in the UAE. Despite this deep penetration, the UAE is also one of the most restrictive nations in the region. Web activity is heavily monitored and many websites are blocked in UAE by the agency which regulates online access. Many people visit Dubai and enjoy a range of tourist attractions in UAE.
History of the UAE
The UAE is actually a group of seven principalities, or emirates, which are each ruled by a hereditary emir. One emir is then elected to preside over the entire federation as a whole. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and, as such, dictates much of the policy which is made by the federation.
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Prior to 1962, the UAE was little more than a vast spot in the desert. The discovery of huge oil reserves, however, made the UAE one of the richest nations in the Arab region. The emirates boast the seventh-largest oil reserve in the world, and the cities of the UAE are highly developed. The per capita income of the UAE is also the seventh-largest in the world.
Internet in the UAE
For a very long time there was only one, state-owned ISP in the UAE. This monopoly was broken by the introduction of a second ISP in February of 2006. The telecommunications company du was authorized to provide Internet access, and a large majority of the UAE uses du & etisalat as an ISP. This might seem like an attempt by the UAE to become more moderate in its regulation of Internet access, but this is just an illusion. The new ISP still answers to the government and follows the common regulatory practices of the region.
One notable difference regarding Internet access in the UAE is that more homes have Internet due to the overall affluence of the country. The Internet Café, popular in so many of the Arab territories, does exist in the UAE, but more people choose to use the Internet in the privacy of their own home.
Internet Filtering in the UAE
Both of the ISP’s in the UAE use a sophisticated system to block websites which are considered pervasive or violate the moral standards of the country. In addition to outright blocking, the UAE also engages in selective censorship to restrict access to certain parts of discussion boards or news sites.
At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in the UAE:
- Most Israeli domains. The long-standing conflict between the Arab region and Israel prompts the UAE to use blanket restriction on most websites originating in Israel.
- Some parts of Wikipedia. This is a case where the UAE uses selective filtering.
- VoIP networks similar to 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. Adult sites include xvideos, Tube8, redTube, xHamster, YouJizz, youPorn, megaporn etc
- Dating sites. All dating sites similar to Yahoo Personals and Match.com are in accessible in the UAE. A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable. Other sites include GuySpy, Homorazzi, Advocate, OhLaLa. LesbianMingles, Girlsmingle, BlackGirlMatch, LesPassion
Unblocking websites in UAE
Using a public network to access the Internet in the UAE can be risky if you attempt to access blocked websites. The only genuine way to unblock restricted websites in the UAE 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 the UAE. 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 on public networks in the UAE.
For more information about UAE you can check out this site: emirates.org
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