United Arab Emirates

NoSpace in UAE

The United Arab Emirates has blocked MySpace.com, according to Dubai newspaper 7 Days.

For the majority of the country, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, also known as Etisalat, has a monopoly on business and personal telecommunications services. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) requires Etisalat to actively censor Internet sites, and material which is deemed offensive is often blocked. Etisalat said this week that MySpace.com is banned because the website does not do enough to categorise adult content.

7 Days spoke to an Emirates musician, Saleh Hamed, whose opportunities have been suddenly and drastically limited by this move.

Hamed says that if a site is found to offend, blocking it outright is not always the answer. The solution, he suggests, is not censorship, but education. Otherwise United Arab Emirates is in danger of being left behind in the creativity stakes.


Brokeback Syriana

George Clooneys political thriller, Syriana has premiered in the United Arab Emirates with two minutes cut by government censors.

Scenes showing mistreatment of Asian workers in the Gulf and references to a late Saudi king were among those cut.

The movie has also opened in Egypt but is unlikely to be screened elsewhere in the Middle East, said its distributor

Apparently, the UAEs censors took four months to to examine the film because they felt that the buck should be passed to the authorities in Abu Dhabi.

In other news, Beirut based distributor Italia Films, has abandoned plans to show Brokeback Mountain in the Gulf region.

A spokesman said its decision was the result of negative feedback it received from government ministries regarding the films homosexual content.

We asked whether a film with such a subject would be approved, said Jean Shaheen of Italia Films. They told us they would rather not deal with it.

Now theres a surprise.

Homosexuality is a serious offence in the Gulf, punishable by flogging and imprisonment.

No gay cowboys in the UAE

Khaleej Times (via) reports that the Ministry of Culture and Information will not allow the screening of Brokeback Mountain in the UAE because it has gay people in it.

According to the Ministry of Information, the rules and regulations of the censor section at the ministry did not allow “these kinds of movies to be screened in the country” on the grounds that they will destroy the values and morals of the society.

The decision of the Ministry of Information was hailed by the members of the Sharjah Consultative Council during the meeting yesterday. The members thanked the ministry for its efforts in protecting the society from unethical and immoral practices.

Ive never understood the claim that these kinds of films will destroy the values and morals of the society,unless the people making them (the claims, not the films) are in the closet and desperate for a bit of encouragement.