Qatar’s VoIP (voice over internet protocol) ban makes it difficult for expats and foreign residents to reach their family and friends back home. Plus, for online tutors with students in Qatar, the VoIP outage is a serious impediment to remote teaching. This guide will show you how to unblock VoIP apps in Qatar and save money.
The two local carriers, Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar, offer international voice calls. While these pay-as-you-go services are viable for communicating with family and friends back home, the fees are exorbitant. You don’t have to go that route, especially when the market is awash with free VoIP services.
- Major VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Facebook messenger are blocked in Qatar.
- The government hasn’t declared the use of VoIP illegal, and using a VPN to access them won’t get you into trouble with the authorities.
- ExpressVPN is the best VPN to circumvent Qatar’s VoIP restrictions, thanks to its unmatched ability to bypass restrictions and lightning-fast speeds.
We’ll show you how to bypass Qatar’s VoIP restrictions using a virtual private network (VPN). If you’re short on time, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for unblocking VoIP apps in Qatar. It unblocks any VoIP you throw at it and has excellent speeds to support smooth video calls. Stick around to find other reliable yet cheaper VPN services for Qatar.
The VoIP Ban: Why You Need a VPN to Unblock VoIP Apps in Qatar
Let’s start at the top. In 2008, Qatar confirmed that VoIP calls are legal through the country’s supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR). The ictQATAR clarified that no telecommunications law prohibited the use of VoIP in Qatar. Since 2008, Qatar residents have been using VoIP services without issue.
Fast-forward to 2017: the Qatari government began restricting VoIP apps without legal notice or an official statement declaring VoIP calls illegal. Many Qatar residents first thought the VoIP outage was a glitch by internet service providers (ISPs); little did they know that the unthinkable was unfolding.
The government had started to restrict Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Viber, Facebook Messenger and other VoIP services. No explanation came forth as to what led the Qatari government to block the VoIP apps. Internet service providers claimed that the problem wasn’t emanating from their side, whereas Qatar’s communication authority remained mute.
Qatar’s VoIP restriction wasn’t an isolated case: UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia continued to restrict voice and video calls to varying degrees. The VoIP outage drew the attention of civil society organizations. In 2020, 29 organizations joined hands to condemn the act and pressure Qatar to lift the ban, but their calls fell on Qatar’s deaf ears.
While the UAE and Oman relaxed VoIP restrictions in light of the COVID crisis, the Qatari government was unrelenting. The future of VoIP services in Qatar is uncertain, and no one can tell when the government will lift the ban, if ever.
Are VPNs Legal in Qatar?
VPNs are legal in Qatar, but using one to access content that the government deems to be in violation of societal and Islamic values is illegal. As to whether using a VPN to unblock VoIP services is illegal, the short answer is no.
The cause of Qatar’s VoIP restrictions remains a mystery to this date. We know that the country usually censors content and websites that it deems unfit for its citizens. However, with no official statement on the VoIP ban, the government has yet to declare VoIP services illegal.
As it stands, VPNs are legal and VoIP apps aren’t illegal. That can only mean one thing: Using a VPN to access WhatsApp, Skype, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger or FaceTime in Qatar is perfectly legal. In other words, the country can’t prosecute you when you unblock WhatsApp calling or any other VoIP service with a VPN.
How to Unblock VoIP Services in Qatar: Step-by-Step Guide
Unblocking VoIP in Qatar is a cinch, provided you’re using one of the most secure VPNs with high enough speeds to ensure smooth video calls. ExpressVPN ticks these boxes, so we’ll use it to show you how to bypass VoIP restrictions in Qatar.
- Sign Up for a VPN for Qatar
Sign up for a VPN service with servers in your home country.
- Download and Install the VPN App
If you’ll be using your laptop or desktop computer, download and install the VPN app from the provider’s official website. If you’re using your smartphone, install the app from Google’s Play store or Apple’s app store.
- Connect to a VPN Server
Once installed, launch the app and complete the setup. Connect to a VPN server in your home country or a country where VoIP services aren’t banned.
- Access Skype, WhatsApp and Other VoIP Services
Do a DNS leak test to confirm the VPN assigned an IP address outside Qatar. Open WhatsApp or another preferred VoIP and connect with family and friends back home.
Best VPN to Access VoIP Services in Qatar
Even though VPNs are legal in Qatar, the government is continually blocking VPN providers to bar users from accessing censored websites and services.
The VPNs we picked to unblock VoIP in Qatar have proven themselves when it comes to bypassing the country’s firewalls. We’ll discuss what makes each service unique, starting with ExpressVPN — the best VoIP VPN:
- Unblocks VoIP apps with ease
- Lightning-fast connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN is the best VPN provider, bar none, when it comes to circumventing Qatar’s internet censorship and VoIP restrictions. Its proprietary Lightway protocol uses ChaCha20 and AES 256-bit encryption to get you around VoIP firewalls without being flagged. Plus, its blazing-fast international speeds guarantee lag-free Skype, WhatsApp and other VoIP calls, whether you’re connecting to a server in the U.S., U.K. or Australia.
With perfect forward secrecy (PFS), the VPN changes encryption keys regularly such that even if a hacker or the Qatari government gets hold of one key, they can’t decrypt more than a few minutes of your traffic. Not to mention that with the strict no-logs policy, the VPN provider will have no information about you to share, even when coerced by Qatari authorities.
However, ExpressVPN is pricey. Its monthly plan sets you back $12.95, but you can bring the price down to $6.66 when you subscribe to the yearly plan.
If you want to try before buying, ExpressVPN has a seven-day free trial on mobile. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, just in case you change your mind. Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.
- Affordable long-term plans
- Excellent international speeds
- Double VPN for extra security
- Server breach in 2018
Our second pick, NordVPN, offers nearly the same quality as ExpressVPN but at a lower price. Its NordLynx protocol (an improved version of WireGuard) breaks through Qatar’s VoIP firewalls undetected. Speed is NordVPN’s forte.
It’s the fastest service in the VPN market, and it delivers lag- and echo-free video calls whether you’re connecting to a nearby server or one several continents away.
The double VPN servers are helpful for journalists and human rights activists in Qatar. Remember: Eavesdropping isn’t out of the question in Qatar. The double VPN server sends your VoIP traffic through two servers. This way, even if one server is compromised, there’s a likelihood the second one will stand its guard up to keep your information safe.
NordVPN’s monthly plan costs $12.99. The yearly plan costs $4.49 per month, whereas the two-year plan goes for $3.39 per month, making it NordVPN’s best deal. You can take it for a spin risk-free with the seven-day free trial on mobile devices or 30-day money-back guarantee. Learn more in our full NordVPN review.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Unblocks popular VoIP apps
- Fast connection speeds
- Close-range latency can be high
Compared to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark is relatively new, but it gives the top picks a run for their money. While it doesn’t come with a proprietary protocol, it uses the trusted WireGuard protocol, which easily gets around VoIP restrictions. You can also use the OpenVPN protocol and activate the NoBorders mode, which creates a list of servers best equipped to bypass government censorship and VoIP bandwidth limits.
In addition, Surfshark has a MultiHop feature (a version of double VPN), which sends your VoIP traffic via two servers. The unlimited simultaneous connections feature will interest you if you’re moving to Qatar with your family. With one Surfshark account, everyone in the family can make VoIP calls on their devices and the speed won’t dip, thanks to fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth.
Surfshark’s extended-term packages offers the best value of the three VPNs on our list. The one-year plan sets you back $3.49 per month and the two-year plan goes for $2.29 per month. Leaving the monthly plan slightly far from the base price of the lengthier plans, at $10.99. You can take Surfshark for a whirl risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee. Learn more in our full Surfshark review.
- Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker.
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in One, plus Data removal
- Unlimited GB
What’s the Best Free VPN for VoIP Services in Qatar?
We don’t recommend using free VPNs to unblock VoIP in Qatar. Some of the worst free VPN services don’t have the impervious encryption and protocols to bypass Qatar’s VoIP restrictions. Even if you find a VPN that can circumvent internet restrictions, it might leave your voice and video calls open to Qatar’s eavesdropping.
Some of the best free VPN services, such as Proton VPN and Windscribe, offer top-notch online security and privacy. Although they can guarantee internet freedom in Qatar, they have unappealing usage limits. We only recommend Windscribe and Proton VPN as backups.
Take Proton VPN, for example. While it offers unlimited data (which you rarely get with other free services), it soft-caps your internet connection speeds by placing you on the busiest servers. This means that while it will successfully circumvent VoIP restrictions, video call quality could be a problem.
If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend getting started with the free trials that ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer. Plus, with the 30-day money-back guarantee, you could cancel your subscription and get all your money back, should the VPN fall short of your expectations.
If recent events are anything to go by, Qatar has no intention of lifting the VoIP restrictions. Before you jet out of your country, download and install a reliable VPN, and have a second VPN service as a backup. This way, once you’re in Qatar it will be easy to access WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and other VoIP services.
We recommend getting started with ExpressVPN — the best VPN for Qatar — thanks to its all-around performance. Its fast speeds support uninterrupted voice and video calling, making it the best VPN for Skype and other VoIP services. However, should ExpressVPN’s price be off-putting, NordVPN and Surfshark are cheaper yet reliable alternatives.
We have a guide on how to get a Qatar IP address, in case you need to access Qatar-specific services in the country. Keep in mind that you don’t need a Qatar IP address to unblock WhatsApp calling and other VoIPs in Qatar.
Have you experienced a VoIP outage in Qatar? Have you used a virtual private network to access blocked VoIP in Qatar? Which VPN service did you use? Which feature did you like most about the VPN service? We’d like to hear about it in the comment section below.
Yes, the Qatar government has made it difficult to use VoIP apps since 2017.
Bypassing Qatar’s VoIP restrictions is a cinch. All you have to do is to connect to a VPN server in a country without a VoIP ban. For example, if you connect to a U.S. server, local ISPs in Qatar won’t know you’re accessing a blocked VoIP. As a result, they will let you access Skype and other VoIP apps without a struggle.
No, using a VPN in Qatar isn’t illegal. The Qatar government won’t prosecute you for using a VPN, but you could get into trouble for using a VPN to access banned websites.