Internet Censorship in Saudi Arabia - How to Avoid?

Ann Moroz By Ann Moroz, 4th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Saudi Arabia>Riyadh & Around

Internet Censorship in Saudi Arabia - How it works and is it possible to bypass Internet filtering in KSA. How to access blocked websites in Saudi Arabia?

Internet Censorship in Saudi Arabia

Internet filtering in KSA is very strong – it is one of the worth in the world. Internet limits appear in Saudi Arabia with Internet appearing. The filtering system was implemented after the resolution of Council of Ministers in 2001 (24.10.1417).

Lately Internet filtering service was transferred to the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC). Since that time, the CITC is responsible for developing Internet Filtering system.

Every day a special database of blocked websites is provided to data service providers, who is responsible for the filtering technical solutions, in accordance with CITC requirements and policies.

Types of restricted websites in Saudi Arabia

The main basis of blocks is the Qur'an. The government describes the task of filtering system as "preserving our Islamic values, filtering the Internet content to prevent the materials that contradict with our beliefs or may influence our culture."

Council of Ministers Resolution said that filtering system in KSA must block the sites and materials that are incompatible with Islamic religion and resources that are in compliance with the permanent security committee guidelines. Websites that promote pornography and provides a means of circumvention without having to refer to the Committee are restricted in Saudi Arabia.

Sensitive subjects are political reform and women’s rights. All the resources on this topics are limited.

A huge variety of media, including books and films, are censored or banned. And Internet is not an exception.

Besides religion and political blocks Saudi Arabia filters a great number of health, education, reference, humor, and entertainment websites.

Any website and pages related to drugs, bombs, alcohol, gambling and pages insulting the Islamic religion or the Saudi laws and regulations are also blocked.
We gathered some type of web content which is blocked in KSA:

• Religion. A total of 246 pages were blocked from Yahoo Religion categories, including Christianity (67 pages blocked), Islam (45), Paganism (22), Judaism (20), and Hinduism (12).
• Health. Health pages about specific diseases, treatments, and prevention methods are restricted in KSA. Mental health specifically, abortion, other aspects of women's health. drugs, the war on drugs, and their effects and risks.
• Education and reference. Lots if educational resources are blocked in KSA, such as the Women in American History section of Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Ilamic Cultural Library, and the Anne Frank House.
• Sites providing information specifically to and about women. Blocked pages The Women's Network - Busy women sharing solutions and advice, Skirt Magazine for Women Online", Sexuality and relationship info you can trust from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and others.
• Humor sites. Lot’s of humor sites are blocked.
• Entertainment, music, and movies. Fox Searchlight Pictures, the Rolling Stone magazine, Warner Brothers Records are inaccessible in KSA.
• Sites providing information to the gay community.
• Pages perceived to be hostile to Saudi Arabia. Among the specific pages blocked were numerous Amnesty International pages about Saudi Arabia and the reports on Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.
• Pages about Middle Eastern politics, organizations, or groups. Various blocked pages provided content likely to be controversial in the context of modern Middle Eastern politics. Example sites include and (the Israel Defense Force).
• Services allowing circumvention of filtering restrictions. Certain web sites allow a user to view other web sites; such sites include translation services, proxies, and archives. Numerous such pages were blocked, including translators provided by, Altavista/Babelfish, and, as well as the and proxy servers.
• Swimsuits, lingerie, modeling, and other non-pornographic human images. Pages were blocked from Yahoo categories that suggest the display of images of people wearing less clothes than is typical in Saudi Arabia. For example, 28 pages were blocked from Yahoo's Swimming & Diving category.
• Pornography. The majority of the Google "free adult sex" pages were blocked by Saudi Arabia's filtering system. It is likely that blocking of all 795 Google "free adult sex" pages would be consistent with Saudi Arabia's desire to block pornography.

Accordingly, the 110 such pages that were not blocked were likely examples of underblocking; within this sample of relatively well-known sexually-explicit pages, Saudi Arabia's correct blocking rate is about 86% and its underblocking rate is about 14%. In addition, Saudi Arabia was found to block sites recently reregistered after prior domain registrants allowed their domain registrations to lapse; many such sites come to provide sexually-explicit content, as documented in one author's.

Among restriced sites are social networking sites, Google and Yahoo services, On-line magazines and many others resources which are high demanded in the whole world.

How Internet censorship in KSA works?

All International Internet traffic pass through special proxy farm.
All the connections to the Internet pass through the servers of the Internet Services Unit.
The process of filtering is conducted through 2 lists: commercial and local
Commercial List
CITC has contracted with an International Company specialized in sites classification, to provide the commercial list, which includes more than 90 different classifications/categories. The blocking is made for the for pornography, gambling and drugs ratings. The list is updated by the company on a daily basis. In addition there is a continuous communication between CITC and the company to avoid any error in rating classification.
• Local List
The local list is prepared by CITC through the addition of sites that are recommended by public users, after reviewing and ensuring, that such sites contains illegal material. The URLs added to local list rated sites can be classified according to the content as following:
o Pornographic sites, which represent 92.80% of the local list.
o Sites that used to bypass filtering systems, which represent 4.43% of the local list.
o Other sites (such as: gambling, drugs, magic...) which represents 2.77% of the local list.

Public users send their requests via special blocking/unblocking forms. A ticket is opened for each request. URLs will be added only after being reviewed by CITC . The sites that fall under the CITC responsibilities (pornographic sites, sites that provide the means to bypass the filtration systems) are added directly to local list, all other requests are submitted to the committee for study and decision.

How to Bypass Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia?

Now you realize how severe the Internet censorship in Saudi Arabia is.

However there are solutions for this problem and one of the most reliable of them is VPN Account. It is a perfect way to bypass Internet filtering in KSA.

VPN or Virtaul Private Network mask your real IP address and encrypt all Internet traffic so you can bypass all filters in Saudi Arabia.

With VPN service you can access any website, use Skype or Viber and stay private and secure in the Internet.

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
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author avatar Grant Peterson
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Having been to Saudi and witnessed first hand how personal freedoms are limited and the issues are more related to breaching personal privacy, the same is also true of China and many other nations that limit personal rights. But please also be aware UK, USA and other western nations have access to the same technology and could limit many things we have access to.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Very interesting post and informative as well!

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author avatar Ann Moroz
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Grant, you can absolutely right, there are many countries with Internet censorship and I believe it is just terrible that people cannot get the information they need.

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author avatar Ann Moroz
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Thank you, Fern

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author avatar Mal
23rd Mar 2014 (#)

Hey :) I live in Saudi and although they do block a lot of stuff, its not as intense as this article makes it out to be.

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author avatar Mal
23rd Mar 2014 (#)

Skype is accessible, as well as websites about drugs, women's health, non-pornographic lingerie images and religion. Its very easy to find information on these topics, even many websites thay strongly amd openly

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author avatar Mal
23rd Mar 2014 (#)

Even many websites that strongly and openlu condemn Islam are accesible. Mostly its just porn that you cant get to.

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author avatar Linda
14th Dec 2014 (#)

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