Following the arrest of a British woman for making disparaging comments about Ramadan on her Facebook, UAE officials have warned that insulting comments or malicious rumours spread online could lead to jail sentences.
Figures within the Dubai police force have stated that any rumour mongering or insults online directed towards Gulf authorities could lead to a maximum jail term of ten years.
Col. Abbulrahim bin Shafi of the Dubai Police said: “Spreading rumours or disclosing false information and news [that] threatens the public security or causes panic among the people will be a crime even if it is through email, BlackBerry or any type of tool that spreads the information. We impose severe penalties for those who spread rumours and dishonour our reputation.”
Insulting the UAE royalty or government is illegal in the UA, as is anything that is deemed to be a threat to public order or state security. This is one of the areas that may cause problems for foreign expatriates who are used to more freedom on the internet.
Just last month an unnamed British expat was taken to court and fined AED3,000 after she made offensive comments about Ramadan and labelled a colleague as a “dictator” on her Facebook page.