Global VPN downloads surge in 2020, Arab countries lead



Arab Countries like UAE, pictured, are leading the way with VPN downloads

According to data based on the VPN Adoption Index by Atlas VPN, Virtual Private Network (VPN) downloads reached 277 million in 2020 worldwide with Arab countries showing the highest levels of growth. 

A Virtual Private Network hides the user’s real IP address and encrypts their browsing traffic. In turn, these changes prevent nosy third parties such as hackers, ISP (Internet Service Provider), or even the government from tracking the user’s online activities.

Interestingly, the top 4 VPN adopters are Arab countries, including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. Here, on average, VPNs penetrate 44.75% of the market. 

Data reveals the fact that the VPN adoption rate correlates with how strict internet censorship and other online restrictions are in that country. Most of these countries ban any content that is against Islam values or criticizes the government.

COVID-19 impact on VPN usage

Strict internet restrictions were not the only driving force behind the high VPN adoption rate last year.

From February 2020, people started staying at home due to the closure of offices, public venues and the cancellation of public gatherings caused by the pandemic. People began using the internet more often, with many of them choosing to watch TV shows and movies.

But certain streaming services, such as Netflix, BBC, and Amazon Prime, apply geo-restrictions for viewing the content. However, a VPN provides a way to bypass those blockages.

Moreover, in many companies, the majority of employees started working from home. In turn, to protect the company’s data from hackers, employers required their workers to use VPNs.

Says Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN: 

“The year 2020 will be remembered as a year when VPNs became mainstream since millions of people shifted to remote work amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, to access a company’s network, most people have to use VPN to protect their as well as their employers’ data.”

The top ten countries globally with the highest VPN adoption rate are:

Pos. Country Downloads Population VPN adoption
1 United Arab Emirates 6,093,301 9.89M 61.61%
2 Qatar 1,528,763 2.88M 53.06%
3 Oman 1,805,378 5.11M 35.36%
4 Saudi Arabia 10,081,329 34.81M 28.96%
5 Azerbaijan 2,267,024 10.14M 22.36%
6 Kuwait 933,664 4.27M 21.86%
7 Singapore 945,425 5.85M 16.16%
8 Indonesia 41,960,387 273.52M 15.34%
9 Great Britain 8,192,613 67.89M 12.07%
10 United States 38,117,671 331M 11.52%

To read the full article that analyzes the top 10 VPN adopters as well as the reasoning behind it, go to:


Chris Price
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