Al Jazeera is a Qatar-based news organization that doesn’t sugar-coat the stories it broadcasts. This approach to delivering the news as it is quickly turned the broadcaster into one of the world’s leading media outlets. However, it’s also earned a few enemies, and many countries block it. One of our best VPN for Al Jazeera picks will get you past any roadblocks, though.
If you live in or are traveling in one of the countries that block Al Jazeera, you can use a virtual private network to get access to its website and stream its media coverage. ExpressVPN is the front-runner for this task. It has plenty of servers to choose from, fast speeds and an army of security features to keep you safe.
The media network is state-funded and headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It has bureaus all over the globe and many TV channels in different languages, including English and Arabic, as well as being available online.
Its audience grew because of its nonconforming approach to current issues around the world and because it discusses topics that other channels steer clear of.
However, that approach has earned Al Jazeera a divided reputation. Its viewers are happy, but several governments see it as a controversial, biased and unjust brand of journalism. This has caused many countries to block access to it, both online and offline. Read on for more about the news organization and why you need a VPN to watch it.
The Best VPNs for Al Jazeera
- Private Internet Access
ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN provider here at Cloudwards.net. It often nabs the number-one spot in our articles, but that’s because it does what it needs to, and does it well. It has more than 3,000 servers covering 94 countries, so you should be able to connect to a country where Al Jazeera isn’t blocked.
It’s the fastest VPN around, meaning you won’t have to wait long for content to load. Plus, you won’t get kicked off for hitting a bandwidth limit because there is no limit. Those features helped bring it to the top in our VPN for streaming piece, and it’s a great pick for streaming Al Jazeera.
Its security is excellent and will keep you safe from prying eyes. There’s also an automatically enabled kill switch that will disconnect you and keep your data safe if the VPN fails. You can turn it off, but we advise against it. ExpressVPN values privacy, too, and it has a strict no-logs policy.
You should have no problem getting to grips with the interface. It’s easy to use and great for beginners. You can use it on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Read our ExpressVPN review for more.
Price-wise, ExpressVPN costs more than its competitors. That said, you’re getting a great service with many features, so it’s worth the money. If you sign up for a longer duration, you’ll save some bucks, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for peace of mind.
- Servers in 94 countries
- Fast speeds
- Excellent security
Our second pick is NordVPN, and to be fair, it only just loses out from the top spot because of its varied speeds. Other than that, the two are alike in many ways, as you can read in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison.
Its server coverage is just shy of 60 countries, but there are more than 5,000 servers in total. NordVPN’s speeds are fast, but they can slow down a fair bit if you connect to one that’s far away. You do get unlimited bandwidth, though.
NordVPN’s security is among the best on the market (which is one of the reasons it’s our best VPN for torrenting). Plus, it gives you the option of using its double-hop servers, which basically add another layer of protection to the VPN tunnel. It comes with a built-in kill switch, and it has a solid no-logging policy, too.
Its interface is easy to use, and switching servers is a breeze. You can install it on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Take a look at our NordVPN review for more.
NordVPN is more affordable than our top pick, though you’re better off picking a lengthier plan to save money. A 30-day refund window is in place, in case you find it’s not for you.
- Massive service network
- Great security
- Double-hop encryption
- Inconsistent speeds across the network
CyberGhost is another good VPN that’ll let you watch Al Jazeera. It has nearly 6,000 servers dotting more than 80 countries. Its speeds are fast, though they can slow down a little over long distances, like NordVPN does. Also, there are no bandwidth caps to worry about.
You’ll be protected by good security, and the service comes with a permanently enabled kill switch. This means you don’t have to remember to turn it on, which is good, but it also means you can’t turn it off, which is annoying. It also has a no-logging policy to honor your privacy.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can use CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers. They come with a small fee, but they sit outside of the 14 Eyes and are built with superior hardware.
CyberGhost’s interface takes some getting used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to use. You can use it on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Take a look at our CyberGhost review for more information.
It’s an inexpensive VPN, but the monthly cost is bad, so signing up for a longer plan is your best bet. There’s a money-back guarantee if you find it’s not for you, which is for 14 days on the monthly plan and 45 days for longer ones. There’s also a free seven-day trial available for Android and iOS users. Annoyingly, desktop users only get one day.
- Huge server network
- Automatic kill switch
- NoSpy servers
- No kill switch controls
- Can be slow
Private Internet Access is a simple yet powerful VPN that has a lot under its belt. There are more than 3,000 servers within its network, but they cover fewer than 30 countries. You should still be able to find a suitable server, though.
Its speeds are generally fast, but they’re inconsistent. Plus, its fast speeds are partly down to it using lighter encryption. It uses the less favorable 128-bit encryption by default, but you can easily up it to the recommended AES 256-bit encryption for better protection. You also get a kill switch, and it has been proven not to keep logs, as you can read in our PIA review.
You get unlimited bandwidth, and it can be used on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. PIA also has a proper Linux client, making it our best VPN for Linux. The interface is easy to use and you have a lot of control, but it’s tied to the tray. That can get a little annoying, although its settings menu opens in a separate tab.
PIA is one of the most inexpensive VPN services, especially because of what you get for it. It sadly doesn’t offer the same money-back duration as its competitors, but you still get seven days to decide if you like it.
- Multiple security settings
- Interface is tied to the tray
- Speed is inconsistent
Our last entry is VyprVPN, which is a good provider with security at the forefront of its features. Its server total isn’t impressive, with fewer than 1,000 spread across 60 or so countries. It’s not terrible, though, and you should still be able to find a good enough server.
VyprVPN’s speeds are sufficient, but it’s not as fast as other VPN services, as you can read in our VyprVPN review. However, you do get unlimited bandwidth.
The security is where it’s at with this VPN. It’s excellent and customizable, with different protocols to choose from. It even includes its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which adds even more protection to your connection. You also get a kill switch and a strict no-logs policy.
VyprVPN’s interface is a little dated, but it’s still easy to use. That’s especially true of its mobile apps, which earned VyprVPN a spot on our best VPN for Android list. It not only supports Android and iOS, but it is also compatible with Windows and macOS.
Its price is based on two different packages. There’s the cheaper Standard plan, which gives you three simultaneous connections. Then there’s the Premium plan, which gives you five connections and the use of its Chameleon protocol. Opting for an annual plan is more worthwhile, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in place.
- Several protocol options
- Proprietary Chameleon protocol
- Solid user interface
- Slow speeds
- Server network is small
How We Chose Our Picks
VPN services are made up of mostly the same features as each other, but they all perform differently, as you can read in our VPN reviews. To make sure you have a great experience while accessing Al Jazeera, the VPN should meet the criteria below.
The more servers there are in as many countries as possible, the more chances you have of finding a suitable one. It’s not just server count that matters here, though, it’s how many countries it has servers in, and those countries need to be ones that don’t block Al Jazeera.
Speed and Bandwidth
Good speeds will mean you’re not constantly waiting for content to load. It’ll also have an impact on the quality of the content. If you get stuck with slow speeds, you’re likely to end up watching a low-resolution stream, which is no fun. Your best bet is to choose a VPN that has good speeds and to connect to the closest suitable server.
As for bandwidth, you should choose a VPN that doesn’t have a data limit. If you do, you might hit the limit quickly, at which point the VPN will stop working. This is, obviously, not a good thing.
The VPN’s security is important, especially if you’re trying to access Al Jazeera from a country that has banned it. Having good security will make sure you stay hidden from prying eyes — like government surveillance — and any other online dangers. It should use AES 256-bit encryption or let you tweak the settings to that level.
It should also include a kill switch, which will completely disconnect you from the internet if the VPN fails. It might sound dramatic, but if the VPN stopped working without you knowing, you’d be left open to attack and your sensitive data available to whoever wants it.
Compatible Devices and Ease of Use
If you’re an experienced user, you’ll probably want to make sure that the VPN supports your device. That said, user-friendliness might be something you treasure. Check that your operating system is on the VPN’s compatibility list, but if you’re not a techie, you’ll be better off with a simple interface.
Prices differ quite a bit with VPN services. Many offer a large discount on longer plans. In the end, though, that price needs to fit in with your budget, so make sure it does.
Why Do I Need a VPN for Al Jazeera?
Before Al Jazeera, the majority of Arab news was totalitarian garbage. It was centralized around what rulers were doing, praising them and basically telling people how lucky they were to have them.
When Al Jazeera was founded in 1996, all that changed. It pushed the boundaries of any other news organization: broadcasting controversial stories and dissenting views on call-in shows and challenging those in power. It gained global attention by broadcasting Osama bin Laden’s videos and exclusive footage of the Afghanistan war as it happened.
The broadcaster continues to promote freedom of expression and provide a voice for those who are in under-reported places. However, its willingness to do so has led to it being blocked or completely banned in some countries, many of which accuse it of promoting terrorism, sectarian bias and misinformation.
Countries That Block Al Jazeera
Egypt blocks Al Jazeera and some other news websites, stating that they publish false information and support terrorism. They also don’t like the fact that these news organizations are critical of the government. Our best VPN for Egypt article goes into more detail.
Al Jazeera in Israel
Israel detests Al Jazeera’s coverage of the ongoing conflict with Palestine, even accusing the channel of being biased in favor of the Palestinians.
That’s understandable, though, with one example of questionable objectivity including Al Jazeera throwing a party on-air in 2008 when a member of the Palestine Liberation Front was released after serving nearly 30 years in jail for murdering Israeli civilians.
Israel authorities also accuse the news organization of having ties with Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza and the West Bank. Read more about that country in our article on VPNs to use in Israel.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have accused Al Jazeera of the same behavior that Egypt has and blocked the organization, too. However, there are other reasons why the Saudis would block the network.
Since Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani came to power in 1995, Qatar has become more independent. Its foreign policy priorities are different than its neighbors, and the country has secured relationships with rivals and Islamist groups. Qatar has been accused by other Middle Eastern countries of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups.
That’s where Al Jazeera comes in. It presents itself as an unbiased organization, but because it’s funded by the Qatari government, it’s accused of having the same stance as Qatar and favoring the country in its reporting.
That’s why it gets blocked or banned by Saudia Arabia and the UAE. The Saudi government has even threatened fines of up to $27,000 on hotels for violating the ban. Check out our Saudi Arabia and UAE pieces for more information on those countries.
The Blockade on Qatar
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain launched an air, land and sea blockade on Qatar. Diplomatic, trade and travel ties were cut to try and stop its independence, with the four Arab countries claiming that Qatar supported terrorism.
Qatar received a list of demands that it needed to meet for the restrictions to be lifted. It included aligning with other Arab countries, as well as shutting down Al Jazeera.
It seems that Al Jazeera will continue to be blocked, especially in the Middle East, unless Qatar agrees to shut it down, which we very much doubt. So if you’re in a country that can’t access it, you’ll need a VPN to bypass the restrictions.
If you try to access Al Jazeera but all you get is an error message, it’s likely that you’re in a country that has blocked it. Using a VPN can help you get past the block by connecting you to a country that can access it. It’ll make you look like you’re physically there, and it will also protect you while you’re online.
To have the greatest chance of circumventing the block, you need a VPN with a large server network, fast speeds and good security. ExpressVPN has all of those features and more, which is why it’s our favorite VPN for Al Jazeera. Why not give it a whirl with its 30-day money-back guarantee?
Have you been blocked from watching Al Jazeera? Tell us about your experience with trying to get around the block in the comments below. Our VPN archive has other interesting articles for you to look at, too. Thank you for reading.