Media Blog

Press Freedom: United Arab Emirates Loosening Up?

From Oxford Analytica via Forbes:

A new federal media law [in the United Arab Emirates] scrapping jail terms for press violations is nearing approval. It is part of a decade-long effort to boost the United Arab Emirates’ domestic media production and attract foreign media companies. . . .
Dubai led the media hub push with the launch in 2001 of the Dubai Media City free zone. Since its launch, DMC has attracted many global media players including Reuters, BBC World, Associated Press Television News, CNN and MBC. The free zone is managed by TECOM Investments, a company almost completely owned by the family of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. . . .
The UAE’s absolute monarchy and powerful business concerns will continue to foster positive coverage by bankrolling friendly media such as The National. The government will use its coercive power over content if key political or economic interests are threatened, but will do so sparingly to avoid alienating its lifeblood of foreign media workers and companies.
Profoundly odd, the juxtaposition of freewheeling Dubai and the fact of an absolute monarchy. That’s a contradiction that is going to resolve itself somehow, possibly but not necessarily unpleasantly. But it’s interesting to consider that reporters operating under the absolute rule of the UAE’s sheiks have more operational freedom than those covering the Olympics in Beijing.


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