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Do you think there is freedom of speech in the UAE?

Do you think there is freedom of speech in the UAE?

The results are in.

April 19, 2009 9:43 by

New York-based Human Rights Watch recently released a report entitled Just the Good News, Please: New U.A.E. Media Law Continues to Stifle Press, in which it urged the UAE government to review the draft media law. The report claimed that the draft law had several irregularities, and that it would promote self-censorship among journalists.

A large majority of the respondents to our poll, 73 percent, agreed that there is no freedom of speech in the country. Close to 16 percent felt that it does exist at times, when the government isn’t looking. And around 7 percent said that, compared to the rest of the Arab world, the UAE does have freedom of speech.

Interestingly, just one person, representing less than 1 percent of our respondents, felt that the UAE scored positively in this area, and said ‘Yes, absolutely’ to our poll question. It is probably somebody who would agree with the response from the National Media Council (NMC), which is responsible for the draft media law, to the Human Rights Watch report:

“[The NMC] would like to note its view that some of the remarks made in the HRW report show either a real lack of understanding of the situation in the Emirates or an attempt to promote concepts and/or procedures that are not compatible with the laws of the UAE and its value system […] It is the view of the NMC, therefore, that such a preamble as is suggested by Human Rights Watch would be superfluous and unnecessary. The National Media Council continues to take the view that the new draft law represents a significant step forward in terms of press freedom in the UAE.”

Finally, around 3 percent of our respondents said they don’t care.

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