Dubai Media Not-So-Free Zone

This is the notice I get when I try to access the photo-sharing site Flikr in the UAE. Or any site ending in .ir for Israel. And on a host of other sites that Emirati authorities have decided is not acceptable. And I work in Dubai Media City, a supposedly "free" zone. Apparently not a zone for free speech.

I also can't call any Israeli numbers - which of course also cuts me off from Palestinians living in Israeli occupied territories as well as business and government contacts that could be needed to ensure proper, adequate and balanced coverage.

As a journalist I need to track down information and contact details for people all over the world. Yet the Dubai authorities have decided to censor my access to information. How can they call it a Media Free Zone when in fact it is not free at all?

(I originally wrote this post on Sept. 29 but decided not to post until leaving Dubai upon the advice of friends in the media field. Given that TECOM contacted me merely one day after posting this article I am glad I waited!)

P.S. The character above is one of the four grandmothers that star in the Emirati-created cartoon Freej, which I absolutely adore! Too bad she's used for such a negative purpose...

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About Cortney C.Radsch

Courtney C. Radsch is a scholar and freelance journalist who focuses on the Arab media and politics. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. Ms. Radsch is writing her dissertation on the Arab media's influence on foreign policy and has done fieldwork in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Her research has also looked at the ideology and politics behind Islamist extremism. Ms. Radsch is an internationally published journalist and previously worked at the New York Times and the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon. She holds an M.S. in International Relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley.

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