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.


Anonymous said...

i wonder if the Times will also be banned. in last fridays edition they carried a double page article about dubai's financial problems centred around a huge picture of the man at the centre of it - Shaikh Mohammed - only it wasn't Shaikh Mohammed it was Shaikh Zayed the former abu dhabi ruler and "father" of the nation - now deceased.

i wonder how the powers in abu dhabi reacted when they saw the Al Nahyan image being associated with dubai's demise.
would it make them more or less willign to bail out their profligate neighbours.

it also proves that even with a free press, mistakes get made.

maybe the abu dhabi government should sue the times...

that would get the pot boiling

Anonymous said...

Its a bit rich (well not anymore at least) for a state that arrests and jails people for not paying their debts timeously, to decide these rules do not apply to state owned corporations.
Its just another example of the outrageous hypocrisy on which much of Dubai was governed.

Anonymous said...

i agree: i worked for the dubai government and venal greed and hypocrisy was hard to take.

what's happend to Mohammed Gergawi has he been banished to internal exile ? his name was mentioned in the sunday times as one of those who has been removed from the board but what does that mean.

Anonymous said...

Photo can be found here:

Anonymous said...

Maktoub are claiming that The Times today (Monday) is available "across the UAE" - but I can't find a copy in Abu Dhabi... probably because of today's Times article here:

Anonymous said...

from bbc web site:

Dubai's finance minister, Abdulrahman al-Saleh, said the government was not responsible for Dubai World's debt.

"Creditors need to take part of the responsibility for their decision to lend to the companies," he told Dubai Television.

He added: "They think Dubai World is part of the government, which is not correct,"

yeah right, dubai world is an enitely independent company with no ties to the dubai government and is not controlled by the maktoum family.

the sad thing about all this is that dubai has lost all credibility and its image is tarnished very badly thanks to the shabby behaviour of its local elite.

Anonymous said...

It might also have something to do with the "comments" from a few wasters in THAT Sunday Times.
Agreed, the picture is disrespectful but some of the write ups were bang out of order, typical band wagon journalism : "let's stick the fucking boot in, even though we've never been to Dubai", sort of thing.

Strange that the Times online is not BLOCKED by Etisalat or Du!

UAE Students said...

There are several schools teaching Media and Communication studies in the UAE, including The American University of Sharjah, The Higher Colleges of Technology, New York University Abu Dhabi, Zayed University, etc . I'd like to hear from UAE students or professors. What are your thoughts? How is this being covered in class? Do you feel free to discuss it in an academic setting?

Anonymous said...

If it's all so censored and tightly controlled how is it you all know so much about it?

The fact is the illustration of a sheikh like that depicted in the Times is offensive to people from the local culture. Just because it's the way it's done in the UK doesn't mean you should be allowed to do it anywhere.

How about a cartoon depiction of the queen giving one of her horses a blow job? Doesn't offend me particularly so does that mean I can publish it?

Anonymous said...

The world according to Mo.

1.I am the government of dubai.
2.The government of dubai has nothing to do with Dubai world's debts.
3. I have nothihg to do with Dubai world's debts.

simple logic. innit

next please.

Anonymous said...

how can you compare a picture of an 80 year old woman giving a horse a blow job and a picture of a 50 year old man holding his arm in the air in the sea, asking for help..

has dubai world asked for help with repaying its debt ...
errr yes.

but of course shaikh mohammed had nothing to do with Dubai world, it is nothing to do with the government of dubai, totally separate, no grey areas, all above board, totally transparent, freedom of expression, tallest stories in the world etc etc etc blah blah blah

Anonymous said...


I've worked in Dubai and am now taking great pleasure at sticking the boot in.

This has been a fantastic story.

I really hope, on a personal level, you lose your job and are forced to return to wherever you came from and to take up the kind of badly paid, low level job you're actually fit for.

And isn't that the real reason you're in Dubai? Because it's the only place on earth a half-wit moron like yourself can get a "job" just because he happens to be white and has bought his degree from some fake university?

Anonymous said...

You the fuck does PR for Dubai? Does anyone do PR for Dubai? If so, they're a bunch of muppets. If not, they need some help. Urgently. Even a six year-old could do a better job, but I fear Wonder Woman is closer to what's needed. STOP SAYING IT'S ALL OK AND STOP LYING!!!!!

Oh, and shame to see The Times banned. But, that is the way over here, and they are entitled to that course of action. From a cultural POV it's fine, but just don't expect the negative reports to stop. Maybe shouting SHUT UP will sort the probelm.

Anonymous said...


"On a personal level" ??
"Half wit moron" ??

All this cos I had a truthful pop at the Times?

Oh dear, Are you still crying for your 4x4 you left at the airport?

And assuming i'm "white" is a sickening racist statement.

Glad this recession has helped clear out cunts like you.

Anonymous said...

@ 05:47

"I've worked in Dubai and am now taking great pleasure at sticking the boot in. This has been a fantastic story. I really hope, on a personal level, you lose your job."

So, you've worked in Dubai and you're smart and talented and know everything but everyone else is in Dubai because they're talentless and bought their degrees and can't work anywhere else. My guess is you went to Dubai couldn't cut it and console yourself with all that "Dubai is for losers" bullshit to make yourself feel less of a failure. Live with it. Or die. Either way, no one will care much.

And @9.48 - the Times wasn't banned. One edition was pulled because it showed an image considered to be offensive.

Anonymous said...


I was gone a long time before the recession dude.

I'm one of those people who, thankfully, wasn't talented "enough" to make it in Dubai.

Unlike you who seem to be "talented" to just the right amount to be able to find work in Dubai (but nowhere else).

And, white or not, you're still a useless shitebag.

(I need someone to clean my London apartment, minimum wage, fancy the job?)

Anonymous said...

The 'debate' here - semi-literate rambings and abuse - says a lot about the standard of rank and file journalists who work in the UAE.

Dubai's disapproval of the photograph in the Sunday Times confirmed the obvious: the UAE is NOT a democracy.

However, we should maintain a perspective. There are many worst regimes in the world, where journalists are imprisoned or murdered for asking the wrong (or the right) questions. As far as I know that does not happen in the UAE.

Journalists, even on the National, which looks like a real newspaper, routinely self censor. There are many areas which are off limits, such as the greed and corruption of the ruling families, the incompetence and laziness of Emiratis, prostitution and widespread drinking (of alcohol) and drug abuse. There is no politics, and none of the jostling of a normal civil society.

The highly paid ex pats who run the media (such as Martin Newland at the National) know this and don't care; they will return home as multi millionaires.

This is what people should be talking about here, not swopping insults.

Why don't resident journalists challenge the authorities, who are so keen to sell themselves to the West, by forming an association / union? Why don't journalists write stories that matter, and fight to get them into print? But I suppose it is easier to rant in blogs like this.

Anonymous said...

Why do people who seem to love Dubai always assume those who leave were rejected?

Are you guys really that dumb and brainwashed?

Some people hate the place.

And with good reason.

It's an absolute shit hole.

Anonymous said...

who do you think does the pr for dubai...?! some emirati with no experience on a high wage, just like all the large companies in dubai like world, dubai holding etc etc anyway if you give the times to a bunch of half wits from saudi to run, reduce paper quality, refuse to audit it, employ low grade staff, do a soft launch in the capital of superlatives....what do you expect. no wonder richard murdoch cancelled a planned moved to take it in-house. it was ruined by sab and after much review by london they didnt want it back. its a parting shot by london so they can get out of their contract and stop losing money due to the muppets over here running it. did anyone ever meet tariq...king muppet with all his mba drawings on the wall..and as for manoj...fat lazy prick from a 2nd rate publishers in london and made to leave meed due to his anability to do anything other than theorize in his meetings of self importance. . . do me one thing.. how can you mess up the times over here?! its like messing up the ft, cnn, bbc or mtv....oh sorry the emiratis at amg did that....oh dear.....TRANSPARENCY is needed and then people actually have to be good to have jobs and earn money...!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just so we are all clear, none of this credit bubble bursting nonsense is true, and if it were, it would be nothing to do with me or my government.

and all you media people are free to come and work here, winners and losers, provided you only say nice positive things about me and my visionary property development portfolio and dont bounce any cheques.


did you know i was voted international sportsman of the millennium by the readers of gulf news. true story 1

Anonymous said...


"Dubai's disapproval of the photograph in the Sunday Times confirmed the obvious: the UAE is NOT a democracy."

You belittle the level of the debate and then make a completely stupid comment like that. Why do journalists think their right to do whatever they want defines democracy? There isn't a democracy in the world that doesn't have some form of censorship.

And guess what? Dubai doesn't say it is a democracy, or has any aspirations to be one. All the so called great democracies are full of corruption and sleaze and sex slaves and poverty and exploitation and self interest and everything that's bad about humanity. But you can say what you want in the local rag newspaper so everything's OK.

Journalists suck. You're all so smug and sure that what you do is so important.

Anonymous said...

The National has banned the use of the word "default" in all DW stories since last Wednesday. So much for the freedom bestowed by Abu Dhabi....

Anonymous said...

@ 14:55

"Why don't resident journalists challenge the authorities, who are so keen to sell themselves to the West, by forming an association / union? Why don't journalists write stories that matter, and fight to get them into print?"

Easier said than done. I agree that throwing insults at each other on a blog achieves fuck all, but to be honest there are not a lot of other options. Unions are illegal, and trying to form one will not only get you thrown out, but probably jailed for a bit as well.

From long personal experience, I know you can nurture contacts, dig dirt, write a decent story that actually touches on some of those issues, and fight like a madman with every editor you can find, but it simply WILL NOT make it in to print. And if you keep trying, you will be told either to toe the line, or leave - and of course by that point you have paid a years rent and bought a car and all the rest of it.

So, you think, fuck it, they want shit, I'll write them shit, take my cash, swim in the pool, and actually see my name in the paper now and then. And you do that for a couple of years, pay off your overdraft, and stick it out until your head is about to explode from the bullshit. At which point you go someplace else - home, if you fancy rain and recession, or anywhere else in the world that you think you can hack out a living. There are plenty of countries with beaches and sun, they just don't all pay as well as the Dub.

Journalism in the UAE is shit. Everyone knows this. It is not that the journalists there are necessarily shit (although a fair number are) - it's just that they have made a choice. Stay and write crap and earn big money for as long as you can take it, or go, and never stress yourself thinking about the place again.

I hated being a journo in Dubai. But it paid well enough, so I did my tour of duty, and now I live somewhere much nicer. Just take a deep breath guys, and deal with the shite until you're ready to go.

Let the Emiratis fuck up their society if they want - if they have no idea of the value of the free press, and can't see that it might help the country, do you really give a shit?

Anonymous said...

The "offending" article can be found online at:

Anonymous said...

' And guess what? Dubai doesn't say it is a democracy, or has any aspirations to be one. All the so called great democracies are full of corruption and sleaze and sex slaves and poverty and exploitation and self interest and everything that's bad about humanity. '

You're right Dubai doesn't say its a democracy but the fact that it has no aspirations to be one says a lot about its people.
The powers that be in Dubai are up to their necks in sleaze, corruption, sex slaves and are responsible for the poverty and exploitation of millions. Just look at the slave labour camps that help build your shiny new city.
To suggest they are not would show extreme niaivity.
The fact that you do not seek a democracy shows a lack of character and strength to your people.
It is true that a democatic society is far from perfect but at its core are principles that empower the individual to effect change.
None of us live in a truly democratic society but I for one still strive for this and we should all live in the hope that we will get their one day.
By the sound of your response, you still want to remain a child and be told how to live your life and be grateful for whatever scraps your UN-elected leaders chose to throw your way as they wallow in the obsene wealth they have inherited.