In the United Arab Emirates, it is the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority that decides what may or may not be posted online. The list of blocked websites is long, as is the list of grounds for blocking, which include “violating ethics and morality,” “expressing hatred of religion” and posing a “direct or indirect risk to Internet users.” Whether they just report the facts or question the established order, media outlets have little chance of being read within the UAE. And the judicial system does not hesitate to impose heavy sentences when deemed necessary. For tweeting about the mistreatment of detainees, online activist Osama Al-Najjar was sentenced to three years in prison and a heavy fine last November on charges of insulting the state, inciting hatred and violence and spreading false information. He was tortured for four days after being arrested without any explanation in March 2014.
United Arab Emirates are ranked #120 over 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.