The Internet has become a basic tool of communication and information gathering for over one billion people world-wide. With a dazzling progression since it begun to be used (starting with no more than 188 hosts in 1979) the Internet continuously evolves , as society is getting more modern and our needs change.
It remains the most accessible and cheaper means to communicate, collect and share information in the world, thanks to a huge variety of websites and content, ranging from the social, to the political or just for amusement purposes.
But precisely because of some of these websites, the Internet has become a problem for some governments. They established a series of laws and measures to restrict access to the Internet , allowing them to filter and censor information on the Internet.
The Middle East, a geographic zone that encompasses Western Asia and North Africa is such an example. The area is dominated mainly by the Islamic religion that poses a high censorship on Internet content regarded as unappropriate.
Countries like Qatar, Oman, Yemen, UAE or Saudi Arabia tend to regard the medium with suspicion, and have been slow to build an Internet infrastructure. The governments of other countries such as Bahrain and Jordan have taken a more economically pragmatic view, adopting the technology in a range of sectors. Internet regulations vary widely across the Middle East. Predictably, the most authoritarian governments have the most aggressive filters, but even some without advanced censorship systems have prosecuted bloggers for controversial postings on religion or politics. Nonetheless, all governments in the region have had to carefully consider the effects of having an increasingly informed general public. They have also been influenced by what some consider as a conflict between national or traditional culture and values and anything that could be interpreted as a threat to such values so they restrain the access to the Internet and filter websites content, mentioning the risks of immoral contents (pornography for example), blasphemous content and other information contrary to religious beliefs or to their culture.
As a result, millions of Middle Easterners, including hundreds of thousands of expats are experiencing major difficulty in accessing popular news and entertainment sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Skype and others.
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These restrictions have generated an explosion in the ranks of those who try to bypass the censorship, notably with use of proxy servers that allow Internet users to bypass workplace or government filters. In cyber-cafes from Damascus to Dubai for example patrons furtively browse blocked sites and swap Web addresses for the latest “proxies”.
However, in terms of bypassing the Internet censorship in the Middle East, by far the best tool is the VPN. With a VPN service you can successfully unblock all websites in Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, and even more use restricted VoIP services like Skype.
You can check out the VPN Providers listed on our website to find one to your liking and start using the Internet like it was meant to, even if you are in the Middle East!