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Saudi to lash journalist 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A Saudi journalist is to be lashed in public after he apparently instigated ‘protests’ against a government electricity company which presided over “continuous power cuts” in a town.

Fahd Al Jukhaidib has been sentenced to two months in prison and 50 lashes – 25 of which will be in front of the electricity department.



Hat tip: Sultan Al Q (I think)


Abu Dhabi paper’s editor quits 8, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Media in the ME, The Emirates.
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The Abu Dhabi daily newspaper, the National, has confirmed that its editor Martin Newland has stepped down and his former deputy Hassan Fattah will take his place. This is undoubtedly a blow for the credibility of the paper. Newland was installed originally with much fanfare in April 2008 and brought with him a number of journalists from the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph. Once he arrived and took up the reins he proceeded to scour much of the Western world for journalists to fill the places to meet the size and circulation requirements.

One of the key sticking points of this venture was always going to be press freedom. Whilst Newland always maintained that he was not there to launch a crusade for media freedom, he nevertheless maintained that he would bring Western standards of journalism to Abu Dhabi. Government press releases, for example, were no longer to be simply copied out as the lead story with little to no context or criticism.

However, these have been exceedingly trying times for Abu Dhabi. The torture issue involving the half brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the mooted introduction of the new Emirati media law giving the authorities power over the hiring and firing of journalists as well as punishing journalists who write ‘disparaging’ comments that may harm the country’s economy, hint that the country is heading down a decidedly authoritarian path. Whether these were the precipitants of Newland’s resignation or not remains, however, to be seen.

t. But it will continue to punish journalists for such infractions as “disparaging” government officials or publishing “misleading” news that “harms the country’s economy.”

Qatar’s Press Freedom 6, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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It is often said that whilst Al Jazeera is perfectly happy to run exposes focusing on the more dubious aspects of Arab countries, it ignores such practices in Qatar. This claim is debatable. First, Qatar is something of a boring country. Why would a region-wide TV news channel run a story focusing on something that most of the region simply do not care about, especially when they can run stories on the more notable, juicer stories concerning Saudi politics or Bahrain’s Shia difficulties? Second, Al Jazeera does run stories concentrating on Qatar. As the video shows, when there is a topic of interest such as migrant worker’s rights, then Al Jazeera follows it up. Additionally, this is not the first time that Al Jazeera has produced such a report on Qatar’s human rights issues.

There is no doubt, however, that overall the domestic press (for domestic consumption) is somewhat hamstrung. There are draconian laws regarding defamatory comments with threats of jail and confiscation of passports, looming over journalists’ heads. These issues are, however, being dealt with slowly but surely. The establishment of the Doha Centre for Press Freedom is leading the way. Additionally, and most importantly, they have as their patron the exceedingly influential Sheikha Mowza, the Emir’s most outspoken wife who has called for more freedom of the press in the past.