Dubai bans Arabian Business for one month over report

Arabian Business report on liquidation of dozens of failed real-estate projects deleted from website and apology posted.

UAE censorship
Human rights groups criticise the UAE for limiting freedom of expression [Kamran Jebreili/AP]

The UAE has banned a Dubai-based popular website and magazine for publishing a report on failed real-estate projects – “false news” according to the authorities.

A statement released by the media office of Dubai said on Wednesday that the print and online editions of Arabian Business would be barred from publishing for a month.

“The magazine committed violations of the rules and regulations of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) by publishing false news that was based on inaccurate information,” the statement said, without elaborating.

Arabian Business recently reported that courts in Dubai were in the process of liquidating dozens of failed real-estate projects in the city, which weathered a property slump as part of the global financial crisis in 2009.

It soon deleted the online article and posted an apology online on Friday. It said the piece was an “oversight” and related to projects dating from 2010 that are “now outdated”.

But by then, the article had already been picked up by other publications, angering UAE authorities and state-linked media.

The Dubai media office said on Saturday on Twitter that it “ruled out a report published by Arabian Business (and) copied by Qatari media” about the projects.

READ MORE: UAE – Social media users face jail for Qatar sympathy

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar early last month, accusing it of supporting “extremists” – a charge Qatar denies.

UAE authorities have warned that showing sympathy for Qatar online is punishable under the country’s sweeping cybercrime legislation, which criminalises a broad range of online activity and allows for long prison sentences and hefty fines.

Human rights groups say the law and measures, such as censorship of online content, limit freedom of expression in the UAE.

Besides Arabic and English editions of Arabian Business, ITP publishes regional versions of several international titles, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Time Out.

Internet users who attempted to reach the Arabian Business site in the UAE on Wednesday saw messages similar to those used for other types of censored content saying access was prohibited.

Source: AP