There has been a drop in the adoption rate in the country.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) penetration was the highest in the UAE globally during January-June 2022 at 25.72%, surpassing Qatar.
According to Atlas VPN data shared exclusively with Khaleej Times, 2.543 million VPN apps were downloaded in the first half of this year, accounting for 43 percent of total VPN downloads last year, which amounted to 5, 88 million.
Atlas VPN ranked 85 countries in terms of VPN usage. The VPN penetration rate was calculated by adding the VPN downloads per country and dividing by the population of the country. VPN download data is pulled from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store using the Sensor Tower service for data in 2020 and 2021. Data for the first half of 2022 was pulled using AppTweak.
The number of downloads from Virtual Private Networks in the UAE has decreased lately. In 2020, 6.09 million apps were downloaded, which dropped to 5.88 million in 2021 and the number for the entire year in 2022 is expected to be lower than last year’s figures.
The drop in the adoption rate in the United Arab Emirates is attributed to residents becoming more cautious about their privacy, as well as a slowdown in internet connection speeds. Furthermore, VPN apps also consume a lot of mobile phone data and low-quality VPNs don’t work well for a long time as they drain batteries faster and slow down devices.
According to Nord Security, VPNs are also used to access restricted content such as dating, gambling, porn, drug, and VoIP websites, among others.
In the UAE, the use of VPN applications is not illegal if used in accordance with the guidelines of the authorities. But its misuse can lead to prison sentences and a fine of between 500,000 and 2 million dirhams according to article 10 of the UAE Cyber Law.
VPN applications can be used by companies, institutions and banks for internal purposes.
Qatar had the highest adoption rate last year at 69.69 percent compared to 59.52 percent for the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf region typically sees a very high penetration rate among all countries due to restrictions on access to Internet content.
Among other countries, Qatar has the second highest penetration rate at 24%, followed by Russia at 23.9%, Singapore at 20.3%, Oman at 18.45%, Saudi Arabia at 15 .15% and Kuwait with 12%.