For the most part, internet censorship is not overly draconian in the UAE. Certainly, much less so than somewhere like China or Iran for example. It would be rare that any news is censored, even news critical of the UAE. The filtering policy concentrates more on pornography, dating, gambling, and other culturally or religiously offensive internet content.
For many families, the blocking of porn might be seen as a plus when considering a move to Dubai. And those who desperately want to access the blocked websites usually find a way eventually using a VPN is one way to access blocked websites from what we've heard. The most irritating censorship is likely to be the increasing number of Wikipedia pages that are blocked; Skype update: Children looking for feline related material might wonder what they've done wrong when entering one particular synonym for a cat or kitten for example.
Or anyone wanting to do some research into gambling or casinos will find their web searches return no results. One wonders how Dubai World a Dubai Government owned company ever managed to find out enough information to feel confident about investing in Las Vegas. Then again, had they been able to search more freely on the internet in the UAE, perhaps they wouldn't have lost quite so much money on their gamble Most of the time a message will appear when a website is blocked, that makes it clear the UAE authorities have blocked the site.
Occasionally though, either a blank page, or Network Error type message will appear, leaving viewers confused as to whether a site has been blocked, or there really is a problem with the website. Internet Content that contains material which expresses hate to religions. Internet Content that allow or assist users to access Blocked Content. Internet Content that is relevant to gambling. Internet Content that provide information on purchasing, manufacturing, promoting and using illegal drugs.
Tunisians are not the only ones in the Arab world who will insist that no government has the right to trample their rights. As it happened, Tunisia was not the only Middle East country whose citizens had something to say - Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen all had varying degrees of unrest in February with Libya in particular descending into what looked like civil war to many observers. Dubai police are only involved in a process of follow up just in case a user commits an offence on his page such as insulting others…in this case, the user will be identified and prosecuted according to the law.
Etisalat seems to be more stringent than Du at blocking websites, so if you desperately want to access a website that's blocked when connected via Etisalat, one way is to use a Du connection - visit a friend or coffee shop in a free zone in Dubai for example Du is often the ISP in Dubai free zones , or try using a Du hotspot.
Dating websites are blocked, although matrimonial websites seem to be acceptable. Given the apparent acceptance of western dating culture in the UAE, the blocking of such websites seems at odds with the image of tolerance that the UAE is attempting to portray. Gambling websites - anything to do with online gambling and casinos including trying to search in Google and other search engines with words like gambling, casino.
One of the ironies of Dubai is that searching for information about Dubai World's a Dubai government owned company tie-up with MGM a US casino operator is difficult as a result of the censorship. Networking sites - some are considered to be "dating" sites by the TRA and blocked for that reason, for example - FaceBook not blocked , Flickr unblocked , Friendster not blocked , Hi5 not blocked , MySpace not blocked , Orkut, StumbleUpon not blocked.
Pornographic websites and pages. This includes online sites for magazines such as FHM, Maxim, etc even though the magazines themselves are available in the UAE with some parts of photographs blacked out. See Skype below for more information. Major Salah Bu Aseeba, Director of the Department of Economic Crimes at Dubai Police was reported as saying "These types of crimes are very serious, and according to the tip-off the department organised a team to investigate the case," 03 May - Gulf News reported comments made by Adnan Al Bahar, manager of public relations for the TRA, in reference to the legalisation of VOIP services, who was quoted saying "We are working to regulate it.
Currently, we are working on a regulatory framework. It's not finalised yet. It's just taking time because it's not easy to do. When VoIP does become legal, only licensed telecom operators will be allowed to provide the service. We are further investigating this issue with our upstream internet service providers and we will keep you updated on the progress. We are negotiating with them to open up access to VoIP again.
Etisalat can't make these laws. VOIP sites were reportedly blocked sometime in April More confusingly, Abdullah Hashim, Senior Manager of Etisalat's e-Company, was quoted as saying "We are exploring the use of VoIP, but at the moment, PC-to-phone calls are not allowed because we could run into problems with the telecommunication companies in other countries.
But it wasn't clear exactly what industry officials had said to prompt that report. This might include websites not only critical of Islam, but of other religions also. However, non-critical websites of religions other than Islam are usually ok.
Websites critical of the UAE - pages are not routinely blocked, especially from news sources. For example in December , when Dubai was criticised internationally for not being up front about its debt problems after Dubai World announced they wanted an extension to some loan repayments, The Sunday Times print edition was banned in Dubai due to a report showing a montage with an image of Sheikh Mohammed apparently drowning in a sea of debt, but the same article was still available online.
Websites with Israeli domains ending in. An excellent resource, and thankfully unblocked in except for archived pages of blocked websites. Was previously blocked in by Etisalat but not by Du? Couch Surfing is a website where people can communicate with other couchsurfers to arrange free hosting when visiting a country, or just meeting up for coffee. CS groups in various cities including Dubai and countries actively promote social activities and positive impressions of a country. A great idea which has become very successful and popular in most countries so it doesn't seem to make any sense why the UAE appears to want to discourage this, especially given that Dubai and the UAE are actively promoting the tourist industry.
Blocked sometime in or ? A curious decision making it appear that EK assuming they requested the block is afraid of the writer and her blog, but somewhat pointless since overseas job applicants can still access the website, and most people living in the UAE have a pretty good idea of what it's like to work for EK.
Might be available via Etisalat but not Du. Update 27 September Flikr available on both Du and Etisalat internet connections after the TRA said it could be unblocked, although Flicker Groups are still blocked but that might change also. No obvious reason why it's blocked, other wedding arrangment company websites are available.
Presumably commentary or blog posts that went over the tolerance line of criticism of the UAE. Blocking seems to be off and on, and like uaeprison.
Middlesex University UK - website blocked in the late s due to the inclusion of the word "sex". No longer blocked, and there's even a Middlesex Dubai branch now. The blog was blocked, then unblocked after public protest, then blocked again a few years later. Which in the end is probably what the author wanted - her apparently blog posts became more and more vitriolic about Dubai to the extent that it sounded like a personal rant rather than an objective critique.
All about the dating scene from the perspective of two clever and eloquent females. No pictures, and hard to figure out a reason why they might have been blocked.
Perhaps one of the girls didn't put out on a date with someone with enough wasta to shut them down. Most residents believe it is blocked simply to protect the revenues for the telecom operators generated from international phone calls.
Many have also discovered it's not so hard to use Skype if they really want to. How they get around the illegality of offering that service remains to be seen.
Sometime in - Skype website and access was unblocked in the UAE. However, as per the VoIP Policy ver. HRW said The popular website encouraged debate on topics ranging from freedom of expression to political rights.
The irony is that most residents in the UAE have a good idea of how unpleasant the jails are, and blocking the website won't alter that perception, but anyone outside the UAE is not affected by the internal block, and so they will still be able to read about UAE jails despite the block.
Block appears to have started in early But as is typical of critical websites being blocked in the UAE, most teachers and lecturers in the UAE are well aware of the criticisms so the block doesn't really affect them, and since the block doesn't work outside the UAE, new teachers and instructors will continue to be able to visit the website and wonder how much truth it contains if the UAE is so afraid of it they feel it is necessary to block it.
Avoiding internet censorship in the UAE Generally, websites and forums that give instructions on how to get around blocked websites in the UAE end up being blocked, so we're not going to give specific instructions, but we've heard that it's not so difficult. A website called Google is quite helpful when searching for information.
The last item seems to cause the most difficulty for UAE based media publications, which generally err on the side of caution when it comes to criticism of the UAE. For example during the financial crisis and property crash in Dubai, it was much easier to obtain objective information from foreign published newspapers as it was difficult for UAE based media to write about those events without sounding negative. OIG report available at http: Last update Saturday Aug Page development 3D 4L 5C.