According to a few news articles, the UAE is passing a new law with heavy penalties for using a VPN.

Another report says:

Travelers also come under this law and if caught using any VPNs could face fines as well as well as jail time.

Allegedly it's to protect local companies, but also obviously helps penalise those circumventing blocks of say, Whatsapp.

However, many people legitimately need to connect to their company VPNs for work. If you're in the UAE for business reasons, are there ways to get an exemption from this law?

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    The article says it's illegal to access blocked services, not, say your company VPN for work purposes – Berwyn Jul 29 '16 at 7:41
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    @Berwyn several other sites (eg carbonated.tv/news/…) state: " Travelers also come under this law and if caught using any VPNs could face fines as well as well as jail time. " – Mark Mayo Jul 29 '16 at 7:43
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    Even that article says "for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery" – Berwyn Jul 29 '16 at 7:47
  • This law is in the UAE, not Saudi! I should downvote for linking that article. – Nean Der Thal Jul 29 '16 at 7:54
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    Ask your employer for advice? Mine actually sends people to all sorts of difficult countries and we have a whole bunch of Intranet pages about what kind of equipment and data we are allowed to take where (including advice not to take our usual laptops and smartphones to the US...) and a department in charge of this and other security issues. I am not 100% sure but I think Saudi Arabia is on the list of countries we are not supposed to go to without a special authorisation and a briefing from the security department. – Relaxed Jul 29 '16 at 8:53
up vote 34 down vote accepted

tl;dr

If you are using VPN for anything other than committing a crime, then there's no problem as per the law.

Long answer with personal opinions

This law which was announced January, 2016 is mainly targeting criminal activities including cyber crimes and VoIP calls. It also acts as a scarecrow for the general public.

For normal people who are seeking porn or other silly blocked content, no one will bother to prosecute them. I have many friends there and I have personally used proxies there and nothing ever happened, but I wasn't doing any "criminal" activities.

I have spent time reading the UAE law regarding this, it's not clear and it's vague. I believe it will be used only against terrorists, or against people who sell VoIP calls in bulk.

In addition to the above, one of the official newspaper in the UAE (in Arabic) quotes parts of the actual law, which I could not find in English, states the following (rough translation):

... A fine of 2,000,000 AED or prison to those who use techniques to get a false IP address with the intention of committing a crime..

This is the only piece of the new law I was able to get online, and it clearly is vague, and it also mentions "the intention of committing a crime", which confirms what I said earlier, it's not meant for the general public and their use of VPN to watch porn or something.

Some other newspapers have articles about an interview with an official in Dubai police, who clearly was talking about criminals, such as terrorists, blackmailers, etc.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mark Mayo Jul 31 '16 at 11:44
  • @pnuts do not delete your answer, it is actually better than mine +1.. I added a tl;dr version.. feel free to edit.. – Nean Der Thal Jul 31 '16 at 19:57
  • It's just noise, but I'll preserve the reference. – pnuts Jul 31 '16 at 19:59

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