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 It said the piece was an “oversight” and related to projects dating from 2010 that are “now outdated”.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.
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.
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.