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  • Detained in Dubai

UAE's Al Roeya censorship goes global with CNN deal

Media speculates mass firings at UAE media company related to censorship

Al Roeya censorship goes global with CNN deal

There is no freedom of the press in the UAE,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, “But every journalist entering the industry there knows that. Whether we are talking about print media or television, every news outlet in the Emirates is essentially a propaganda operation dedicated to curating a positive image of the UAE and applauding the government. It is not a mystery why the salaries for journalists and editors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have more in common with Western PR professionals than reporters.

“Trying to practise actual journalism within the parameters of what the UAE permits can be risky,” Stirling continues, addressing the recent mass-firing of staffers at Al-Roeya, “They published a story about Emiratis coping with the government’s suspension of fuel subsidies by crossing the border with Oman to purchase cheap petrol. This obviously would be interpreted by the government as criticism of the subsidy suspension, and an exposure of public discontent – both of which violate the understood mission of UAE journalism. Their job is to perpetually affirm that the government is always right and the people are always happy. It should come as a surprise to no one that dozens of people were fired over that report. Imagine what would happen if a marketing agency put out material saying their client’s product doesn’t work and customers are dissatisfied; you would expect the same response.”

Within weeks of the report on high fuel prices, Al Roeya newspaper was dissolved, but Stirling doesn’t believe the two events were necessarily connected, “Al Roeya’s publisher, International Media Investments (IMI), has claimed that the dissolution of the paper was because they were transitioning into a new