An article in Forbes highlights new difficulties for Christopher Davidson, author of the recently published Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond. Like his previous book Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, which was held up in “bureaucratic limbo,” Abu Dhabi‘s release in the United Arab Emirates has been delayed by local authorities.
As Davidson reports, distributors in the UAE contacted him to say that authorities were troubled by the book’s discussion of fratricides in the 1920s. However, Davidson suspects that it is the book’s examination of recent developments, including the UAE’s weak human rights record and their tightening media censorship that is giving censors pause. From the article:
Davidson says censorship in the U.A.E. is the most “sinister” in the region, and succeeds not by heavy-handed interference but by creating a subtle atmosphere of self-censorship. He cites a new media law passed earlier this year, which threatens fines of up to 1 million dirhams ($272,250) for critical reporting on U.A.E. authorities—including Abu Dhabi’s ruler Sheikh Khalifah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, or his billionaire half-brother Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahayan—and asks media organizations to set aside provisions as “collateral” for these fines.
“What the U.A.E. can’t allow to happen is direct criticism of members of the ruling family, or what they call “negative reporting” on the U.A.E. economy that could damage confidence,” says Davidson. “When you have an economy that relies so heavily on foreign direct investment, you can’t have the hedge funds selling short the U.A.E.”