United Arab Emirates enacts new Internet law
Anyone who makes fun of the government online or publishes cartoons in the United Arab Emirates can go to jail for them. The Emirates have enacted a new Internet law that defines such censorship measures.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has enacted a new Internet law restricting freedom of expression. The new law threatens Internet users with prison sentences for criticizing the government and religion. To date, the UAE has been considered moderate compared to other Arab states.
The government describes the new rules as laws against cybercrime. They are a supplement to the 2006 law and are intended to protect users and their data, reports the news agency WAM. For example, privacy is protected by prohibiting the interception or unknowingly recording of communications.
The use of IT for fraud, drug trafficking, organ trafficking, arms trafficking and activities related to terrorism are declared criminal offences. But Internet users risk prison for far less, such as publishing or distributing pornography, gambling and other immoral material.
The law makes it a punishable offence to damage the reputation of the state, its institutions, symbols and representatives, and the ruling houses of the Emirates. No news, pictures or even cartoons may be published online that endanger the security of the state or public order. Also the call for a demonstration can be punished.
Religion is sacrosanct
Religion is also inviolable: anyone who denigrates religious symbols, rituals or customs online and calls for sinful action can also be punished with imprisonment. This applies to Islam, but also explicitly to all other faiths and religions.
In addition to fines and imprisonment, the law provides for the confiscation of computers and software used for the offences listed. Websites on which the incriminated content has been published can be closed temporarily or permanently. If the offences are committed by foreigners, they can be expelled from the country.
About The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federal federation of seven sheikdoms, is located in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. With an area of about 82 880 km², the U.A.E. is about as large as Austria. In the north, the country borders on the Persian Gulf over a length of about 600 km, in the east on the peninsula Ruus Al Djibal on Oman, in the south and west on Saudi Arabia.
More than two thirds of the country is occupied by the foothills of the Great Arab Desert (Ar Rub al Khali), which is predominantly located in Saudi Arabia. The desert is threatened by shifting dunes constantly in the direction of the north to expand, this one tries to prevent by large-scale plantings. Between the desert and the coast there is a salt marsh plain with salt clay pans about 15 km wide. Numerous islands, coral reefs and sandbanks are offshore the coast at the Persian gulf, therefore the waters are extremely difficult to navigate.
In the northeast, the U.A.E. have a share in the Ruus Al Djibal peninsula, a headland between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The Strait of Hormus lies at the northern end of the peninsula (which lies on the territory of Oman). The eastern part of the peninsula is occupied by the foothills of the Oman Mountains, where lies the highest elevation of the U.A.E., the Jabal Yibir with 1 527 m. The capital Abu Dhabi lies on the coast to the Persian Gulf.
The United Arab Emirates is a federal federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi (Abu Zaby), Dubai (Dubayy), Sharjah (Ash Shariqah), Ajman (Ajman), Fujshaira (Al Fujairah), Umm al-Quaiwan and Ras al-Khaimah. In 1971 the federation proclaimed its independence from Great Britain (Ras al-Khaimah joined only one year later); the actually provisional constitution, which was laid down as the final constitution in 1996, also dates from this year.
The head of state is the president (since November 2004 the emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahayan). He is one of the seven sheikhs of the emirates who sit on the “Supreme Council of Rulers” and elect the president from their own ranks. The largest and richest emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have a right of veto in the Supreme Council. Vice-President and head of government is traditionally the Emir of Dubai (since January 2006 Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum). The National Federal Council (Majlis al Ittihad al Watani) has a purely consultative function with 40 members, half of whom are appointed by the emirs every two years; the second half is elected by a cross-section of the population selected by the emirs. There are no political parties or trade unions in the UAE. The state religion is Islam. The United Arab Emirates have a dual legal system of secular and Islamic law (Sharia).
The United Arab Emirates has around 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves. The oil sector (crude oil and natural gas) is the most important sector of the economy, the export of raw materials or products made from them accounts for about 80% of the export volume. In order to make the economy independent of oil revenues in the long term, the UAE is pursuing a course of economic diversification. In recent years, the government has invested in job creation, improved infrastructure and increasingly allowed private participation.
Only just under 3% of the state’s land can be used for agriculture. The main crops are fruit and vegetables. Livestock farming and fishing contribute to meeting the food needs of the population. Today, livestock farming is still partly carried out by nomadic Bedouins. Key service sectors (42% of GDP) are logistics, trade, trade fairs, tourism and financial services.
Industry accounts for 57% of GDP. The most important are petrochemical and chemical enterprises. In order to reduce dependence on the raw material oil, other areas are massively promoted by the political leadership, such as metal production and processing. Aviation also plays an important role, accounting for almost one-fifth of economic output in the UAE.
The most important export partners are located in Asia (Japan, South Korea and Thailand). The USA, China, India and Japan are the main importers of goods (machinery, vehicles, chemicals, food).
The U.A.E. has a very well-developed road network between the major cities. There is no railway network, but the first railway lines are under construction. The country has eight international airports. Important ports are Port Rashid and Jabal Ali. Currency is Dirham (= 100 Fils).