United Arab Emirates media guide

A man reads a copy of UAE-based The National newspaper near the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure and building in the world since 2009, in the gulf emirate of Dubai on August 14, 2020, as the publication's headline reflects the previous day's news as Israel and the UAE agreed to normalise relations in a landmark US-brokered deal.
Abu Dhabi has emerged as a media hub [Getty Images]

The UAE is a regional and international centre for TV and media, alongside Egypt and Lebanon. Dubai Media City and twofour54, Abu Dhabi's media zone, were set up to attract industry players.

The UAE is home to major pan-Arab broadcasters, including Saudi-owned MBC and OSN. Sky News Arabia operates from Abu Dhabi.

The presence of millions of expatriates adds variety to the media scene, which caters for Arab, English-speaking and South Asian audiences.

Most domestic UAE media outlets are run by state-owned Abu Dhabi Media and Dubai Media Incorporated.


The constitution provides for freedom of speech but there is strong regulatory and political control of media content.

Publications must be licensed and follow official guidelines on reporting. Foreign publications are censored before distribution. Journalists tend to practise self-censorship.

The UAE has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the Arab world. There were 12.1 million internet users by July 2022 (Internetworldstats.com). Extensive, automated filtering is in place at ISP level. Targeted content includes opposition politics and religion.

Legislation bans the dissemination of online material that can threaten "public order", and provides for prison terms for those who "deride or damage" the reputation of the state and "display contempt" for religion.

US-based Freedom House's 2023 report classified the UAE as "not free", scoring 18 out of 100 (with 100 being the most free). It said "a number of well-known commentators have been jailed in recent years for criticising the authorities, expressing support for dissidents or human rights, or calling for political reform".

In recent years, some non-Emirati pan-Arab TVs have relocated from the UAE, including the prominent Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.Two Saudi conglomerates - SRMG (Saudi Research and Media Group) and MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre) - both of which have links to the kingdom's leadership - have announced their relocation from Dubai to Riyadh, as part of a broader move to make Saudi Arabia the region's media hub.




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