Cyber Security

Qatar and UAE stand at the top of VPN adoption

17th January 2024
Harry Fowle

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become an essential digital tool for many internet users around the world who are concerned about their online privacy and security.

According to the latest update of the Global VPN Adoption Index by Atlas VPN, Virtual Private Network apps were downloaded 328 million times. Qatar stands at the top of the adoption index as nearly 70% of its population has downloaded a VPN app. Second on this list is the United Arab Emirates, followed by Singapore.

Qatar’s large VPN adoption can be attributed to its large population of immigrant workers, primarily from Southeast Asia and Africa, who account for nearly 80% of the country's total population.

UAE has consistently ranked at the top for global VPN usage, and this year is no exception. Over 50% of Singapore’s population has downloaded a VPN app. Singapore's internet landscape and technological culture have cultivated an environment ideal for the proliferation of VPN services.

Other Middle Eastern countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey are also among the top countries in VPN adoption.

Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, shares his thoughts on VPN adoption worldwide: “VPN adoption continues to increase significantly worldwide, driven by citizens seeking safe alternatives to invasive online surveillance and heavy-handed censorship regimes imposed by governments. Countries with strict internet controls consistently see the highest VPN usage rates as users route connections through encrypted tunnels.”

VPN adoption changes in other countries

Complex factors around privacy attitudes, government oversight, access to restricted content, and technological readiness significantly reshape global VPN usage trends.

Netherlands VPN adoption has grown substantially in the past years. From nearly 10% in 2020 to 29% this year. It is the first time any European country has made our top 5 VPN usage rank.

 France and Australia cracked the top 10 list for global VPN use this year, coming in 9th and 10th place, respectively. For the first time, we have added Iceland to our updated VPN Adoption Index. They came out strong right away, as 12.5% of Iceland’s population have downloaded a VPN app and placed 20th on our list.

Kenya, Japan, and South Africa are countries with the lowest VPN usage in the world. All of these countries have less than 2% adoption rate.

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