Monday, 30 November 2009

Dubai bans the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times has been pulped in the UAE, but honestly is anyone surprised?

DUBAI -- The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai's debt problems, an executive at the paper said.

The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai told Zawya Dow Jones.

The Sunday Times edition available in the U.A.E. on Nov. 29 featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Times wasn't given a reason for the block, or a timeframe when it will be lifted, the executive said.

A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled: The sinking of Dubai's dream, was "offensive."

Under the U.A.E.'s media code, publications are prohibited from criticizing the sheikdom's rulers. Local media and government officials have criticized international press coverage of Dubai's debt crisis. Markets around the world fell last week after the government requested a debt standstill for one of its biggest conglomerates.

Earlier this month Dubai's Sheik Mohammed told reporters gathered at an investment conference in the city to "shut up" and stop criticizing the emirate and its crucial relationship with Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is struggling to deal with it debts estimated to exceed $80 billion.

The Sunday Times is part of News International, a unit of News Corp., owner of Dow Jones & Co. The Times and The Sunday Times are published in the U.A.E. through a local partner SAB Media.

If anyone has a scan or screenshot of the "offensive" graphic, we'd love a copy.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dubai Biscuit Breakfast

Thread request:
We all know that radio here is bland and PC but it plumbed to new depths this morning when most of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye was devoted to a biscuit tasting competion. I was in the car listening with a business visitor to Dubai Air Show who asked if this programme was a joke because it gave completely the wrong impression of Dubai as a business centre. We are living in a city that is trying to climb out of a recesssion and if this is the best the two purile and amateurish presenters (who insist on telling you their names every five minutes) can serve up then no wonder most new business is moving to Abu Dhabi where thankfully you cannot pick up the signal for Dubai Eye.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nose-dive/Crash landing/[insert aviation disaster pun here]

This probably has merit as a thread:

As many of you know I was in Dubai for the past year working for the Arabic satellite channel Al Arabiya, where I was in charge of the English website. Unfortunately journalists in Dubai and and the Arab media more generally do not enjoy the same freedom of the press as journalists in the U.S. Earlier this month when I refused to compromise my journalistic principles and compromise my credibility, which I have spent the past decade building, I was laid off.

Yesterday I arrived back in Washington after being forced out over an article about Emirates Airlines. The airline is on of the channel's biggest advertisers, and the head of Emirates is a Maktoum (a member of the royal family) and also happens to be the head of the regulatory aviation administration. The day after publishing the article I lost my job, prompting the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders to write about my case (read the press release I posted the original story on my blogs and and will be writing more about my experiences in Dubai now that I am out of the country and do not have to worry about being arrested or fined.

I thought this was an important issue of press freedom that I wanted to share with you. In the meantime I'm back in in Washington looking for the next step to take in my career. I hope you are all well and appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Courtney C. Radsch
Journalist & Media Consultant