Interesting interview in Dubai’s Gulf News with Ebrahim Al-Abed, the head of the National Media Council, the agency that oversees media outlets in the United Arab Emirates. Here’s his take on the performance of the press in 2010:
We believe that the UAE has one of the most technologically and institutionally advanced press systems in the region. Since its establishment in 2006, the NMC has been keen on building up solid relations with the local press through meetings to discuss mutual concerns and problems. So, far this working relationship has proven to be most effective in facilitating local media contribution to national development.
I think the effectiveness of the UAE’s commitment to freedom of the press has been shown over the last year by the way in which the local media has continued to deal with a wide variety of complex and potentially controversial issues, without intervention by the courts or other authorities. As always, the way in which the media exercise the freedom that they have is largely up to them — the National Media Council cannot demand that they do so.
Interestingly, the Gulf News offers an article once or twice a year about the state of press freedom in the UAE. Abu Dhabi’s The National — perhaps because it’s owned by the government — tends to stay away from these issues. But, The National does tend to cover more controversial topics than Gulf News.
Here’s the news story written from the interview. And here’s another Gulf News article about how many young Emiratis are turning to non-traditional news sources to get updates that aren’t “self-censored.”