Dubai website and magazine banned over ‘false news’ allegation

The publication had recently reported that courts were in the process of liquidating dozens of failed real estate projects

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 6:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 9:54pm

The United Arab Emirates has banned a popular Middle Eastern website and magazine for publishing what the authorities said was “false news”.

A statement from the media office of Dubai said the magazine’s print and online editions would be barred from publishing for a month.

“The magazine committed violation of the rules and regulations of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) by publishing false news that was based on inaccurate information,” it said.

The DCCA was set up by Dubai’s ruler in 2014 to regulate operations in business parks focused on the media, internet and other industries. Both the media office and the federal National Media Council, which regulates media activities nationwide, referred questions to the DCCA. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An editor who answered the phone at the banned publication Arabian Business declined to comment. Other officials at the magazine and its parent company ITP Media Group did not respond to queries.

The magazine had recently reported that courts in Dubai were in the process of liquidating dozens of failed real estate projects in the boomtown, which weathered a severe property slump as part of the global financial crisis in 2009.

It deleted the online article and posted an apology. It said the piece was an “oversight” and ­related to projects dating from 2010 that are “now outdated.”

But by then, the article had already been picked up by other publications, including in Qatar, attracting the ire of Emirati authorities and state-linked media.

The Dubai media office had said on Twitter on Saturday that it “ruled out a report published by Arabian Business (and) copied by Qatari media” about the projects.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar early last month, accusing it of supporting extremists – a charge Qatar denies.

Besides Arabic and English editions of Arabian Business, ITP also publishes regional versions of several international titles, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Time Out. Internet users who attempted to visit the firm’s website in the UAE were greeted with messages saying that access was prohibited.