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Internet in the United Arab Emirates

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Title: Internet in the United Arab Emirates  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Internet censorship
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Internet in the United Arab Emirates

Human rights
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Telecommunications in the United Arab Emirates is under the control and supervision of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) which was established under UAE Federal Law by Decree No. 3 of 2003.[1] From 1976 to 2006 the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) was the sole telephone and telecommunications provider for the UAE.[2] And while there were exceptions for free zones and modern housing developments, for the majority of the UAE, Etisalat held a monopoly on business and personal telecommunications services. In February 2006 this monopoly became a duopoly when a new telephone company and Internet Service Provider, du was established to offer mobile services across the UAE and Internet and TV services to some free zone areas.[2] Earlier du provided triple play services to free zone areas under the name Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), which is still its legal name.

Telecommunication infrastructure


  • Land lines: 1.825 million, 61st in the world (2011)
  • Mobile cellular: 11.727, 66th in the world (2011)
  • Blackberry users: 730,000 with 480,000 subscribed to Etisalat and about 250,000 with du (2010)[4]
  • System: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
    • Domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable
    • International: linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia
  • Country code: 971

Broadcast media:[3]

  • Except for the many organizations now operating in Dubai's Media Free Zone, most TV and radio stations remain government-owned; widespread use of satellite dishes provides access to pan-Arab and other international broadcasts (2007)
  • Radio broadcast stations: AM 13, FM 7, shortwave 2 (1998)
  • Radios: 820,000 (1997)
  • Television broadcast stations:
    • 72 free-to-air channels (2011)[5]
    • 33% IPTV penetration (estimated, 2011)
  • Televisions: 743,133 (est. 2004),[6] 310,000 (1997)


Internet censorship

Internet filtering in the UAE was listed as pervasive in the social and Internet tools areas, as substantial in the political area, and as selective in the conflict/security area by the OpenNet Initiative in August 2009.[7] The UAE has been listed as "Under Surveillance" by Reporters Without Borders since 2008.[8]

The United Arab Emirates censors the Internet using Secure Computing's solution. The nation's ISPs Etisalat and du (telco) ban pornography, politically sensitive material, all Israeli domains,[9] and anything against the perceived moral values of the UAE. All or most VoIP services are blocked. The Emirates Discussion Forum (Arabic: منتدى الحوار الإماراتي), or simply, has been subjected to multiple censorship actions by UAE authorities.[10]

TRA [11] instructs Etisalat and du to block parts of World Heritage Encyclopedia, all VoIP services such as Skype and SIP based services[12] and some social networking services like hi5, Friendster, and all dating sites like Yahoo! Personals and[13] For political reasons, the entire Israeli internet domain, .il, is also blocked. Pro-Israeli content which does not use the "*.il" domain, however, is accessible (e.g. - the website of the Jerusalem Post).[14] A 2005 study, before du was established, also showed Etisalat sometimes block websites relating to the Bahá'í Faith.[15]

Broadcast media censorship

On 16 November 2007 Tecom stopped broadcast of two major Pakistani satellite news channels, uplinked from Dubai Media City, which was initially marketed by Tecom under the tagline "Freedom to Create." The Dubai government ordered Tecom to shut down the popular independent Pakistani news channels Geo News and ARY One World on the demand of Pakistan's military regime led by General Pervez Musharraf. This was implemented by du Samacom disabling their SDI and ASI streams. Later policy makers in Dubai permitted these channels to air their entertainment programs, but news, current affairs and political analysis were forbidden. Although subsequently the conditions were removed, marked differences have since been observed in their coverage. This incident has had a serious impact on all organizations in the media city with Geo TV and ARY OneWorld considering relocation.[16][17][18]

See also


External links

  • UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
  • Etisalat website
  • du website
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