Qatar is generally viewed as a lucrative home for a multitude of expats who have relocated here for work or those who are drawn to its fabled life of luxury.
According to the Global Peace Index Report 2021, Qatar was ranked as the most peaceful nation in the MENA region. Many foreign workers and their families prefer working and living in Qatar due to the peace, safety, and security it offers.
Even though Qatar is famous for its eclectic business culture, huge foreign population, and modern lifestyle, internet censorship screws it up.
In such helpless situations, a VPN is the only way to bypass online censorship. The VPN software encrypts all your internet traffic and masks your IP address. It is completely your choice to select a server in any other country.
See how VPN works its magic!
The VPN directs your traffic via a server in that country, so you can easily access the internet with the IP address of that server.
Internet Censorship in Qatar: A Boon or a Curse?
Qatar is one of the Arab world’s most connected countries, yet internet use is severely controlled here. In Qatar, Internet filtering is widespread in the areas of social media and Internet tools.
Have you ever wondered why the Internet is restricted in Qatar?
Both foreigners and locals often wonder about that. Internet censorship is generally carried out by the state-sponsored ISP, QTel (now Ooredoo), in accordance with the guidelines issued by the country’s law enforcement departments.
The Qatar government has officially announced that the country is an ‘information open zone‘ and Doha will soon become one of the most open and progressive cities in the Gulf. Since foreigners comprise nearly half of Qatar’s population, there is a chance to stop internet monitoring and censorship.
Does Qatar Ensure Freedom of Speech Through Internet Censorship?
Qatar’s aim is to implement internet censorship on anything that is considered pornographic. In a transparent way, Qatar filters out dating and escort services, gay and lesbian content, pornography, political criticism of Gulf countries, sexual health resources, and privacy and circumvention tools. Therefore, censorship also affects sites that have no offensive or obscene content.
As an independent country, Qatar ensures freedom of speech as mentioned in the constitution, but some amount of censorship of political content is also carried out.
Internet Connection in Qatar
For a Qatar citizen, getting an internet connection is a complex task. If you want an Internet connection that requires landline service, you need to fill out an application form at the service provider’s shop or dealership.
Also, you have to show your residence permit or Qatar identity card to the engineer who comes to install the Internet connection. The electricity account number of the house and the landline number should also be filled out in the form.
Restricted Use of Mobile Internet
Ooredoo and Vodafone are the top mobile internet providers in Qatar. However, these packages have some data limits. You can select the data plan that best suits your needs. Daily packs range from 10 MB to 50 MB for sporadic users, and weekly packs range from 100 MB to unlimited usage. For heavy Internet users, monthly plans are available, which can range from 250 MB to 60 GB per month.
Wi-Fi in Qatar
Wi-Fi is the only relief for many Qatari citizens as it is free. Many restaurants, cafes, libraries, and bars provide Wi-Fi hotspots where you can use the Internet without any charge. Free Wi-Fi is also commonly available at airports across the country, and many of them have free Internet kiosks located at various points in the airport.
But free Wi-Fi poses many threats, like hacking, internet fraud, cyber attacks, and many more. While WiFi is free, it doesn’t mean that it is completely secure and safe. Whenever you surf the web or transact on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, you are exposing your private information and browsing habits to unknown parties. A VPN is needed in such instances. It completely prevents such threats.
Unlike its neighbouring countries, Qatar does not enforce much in the way of technical internet surveillance. However, the government-owned Qatar General Broadcasting and Television Corporation has the right to monitor social media.
As stated in the controversial 2014 Cybercrime Prevention Law, it can impose a one-year jail sentence, plus a fine, on anyone who reveals private information about an individual. Qatar values the privacy of its citizens. Anyone who publishes fake news deemed to jeopardise the security of the state can be jailed for up to three years.
Internet users complain that they do not get access to non-obscene or non-offensive websites. Though political filtering is limited, journalists and bloggers practice self-censorship and avoid reporting on sensitive issues. Yet, the bitter reality is that no one dares criticise or offend the government, and public discussion of sensitive issues is avoided.
Qatar’s telecom regulator, ictQATAR, said that it does not advise the internet service provider, Ooredoo, on blocking Internet sites. But Ooredoo blocks sites in terms of the guidelines issued by law enforcement authorities. What an irony!
The government of Qatar has recently imposed an amendment to the penal code which further regulates freedom of speech and expression. According to Article 136, by Emir Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani, anyone who facilitates the spread of fake news online can be imprisoned.
Although there are no reports of specific Internet surveillance in Qatar, messages that are sent through the other ISPs have been spied on by Ooredoo. The government of Qatar implements Internet censorship through a proxy server that monitors and blocks websites, e-mail, and chat rooms through the state-owned ISP.
What Are the Censored Internet Contents in Qatar?
Except for some international news sites and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the Doha News independent English-language website has been blocked since 2016.
The list has not ended. Many messaging and VoIP apps, like Skype, Facetime, Duo, Viber, and Whatsapp, are prohibited in Qatar. But, the fun fact is that, despite being blocked, the Supreme Council has officially announced that the use of such apps is not illegal.
Although VPNs are considered the best way to unblock censored international content, many VPN services are also blocked. However, other than the initial blocks, Qatari authorities appear to have little interest in stopping this.
Copyright Piracy: A Serious Offence in Qatar
Qatar considers copyright piracy a civil and criminal offence. In practice, ISPs and authorities do not prioritise policing it, though offenders are still subject to copyright holders’ legal action.
The authorities are concerned about people downloading content that is prohibited for other reasons. For instance, we have heard of people getting in trouble for illegally downloading porn.
Qatar has one of the world’s toughest and most stringent online surveillance regimes.
Only a Qatar resident can understand the level of censorship that occurs in the country. If you’re planning a trip there soon, keep in mind that the government blacklists a lot of websites, making it difficult to navigate the internet.
Intel also confirms that the government watches every message transmitted through an ISP, putting you at risk at all times.
Bypass Internet Censorship in Qatar with VPN Services
As a result of the strict internet censorship in Qatar, internet access is a little problematic. So, it is the need of the hour to take advantage of a VPN to improve your security online and access geo-restricted content at the same time.
Use a Reliable Android VPN in Qatar
So let’s draw a conclusion. Many Internet users depend on VPN services to access blocked and restricted websites. A VPN enables a securely encrypted tunnel between a device and a VPN server, thus making your internet activity invisible to the service provider. Many Internet cafes avail the service of a VPN to enable users to browse unfiltered content.
In short, if you want to achieve true internet freedom in Qatar, use the most reliable and best Android VPN for qatar available on the market. Also, it is very important to conduct extensive research to find the best VPN to use not only in Qatar but all around the world.
SPL VPN is the best Android VPN App known for its advanced security features. No sign-up is required to enable SPL on your device. This makes SPL VPN. SPL VPN is the perfect choice among other VPNs. click here to download a free android VPN for accessing content without any geo restrictions.