Here’s a link to my recent essay published in Mufta on the media laws of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries–Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s an update and summation of the my research last year published by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. Here’s a snippet from the conclusion:

As a result of these various laws and regulations, the press corps in GCC states is far from free or independent. In 2010, one brave editor inside the UAE complained that “there isn’t enough protection provided to journalists and self-censorship is practiced by our newspapers to avoid angering official bodies and to please the government.”

A newspaper in Qatar, the Qatar Peninsula, expressed a similar sentiment. An article entitled “The Crippled Four Estate” detailed the unpleasant experience of receiving a criminal defamation complaint and visit from the police. “The entire process is so harrowing and humiliating for a journalist that he chickens out when it comes to writing critically on issues,” the article stated. Perhaps tellingly, the article no longer appears on the newspaper’s website.

GCC countries regularly receive poor marks from international press freedom organizations such as Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders. Until the press laws and other regulations in these countries are amended, these states will continue to find themselves at the bottom of the rankings.

In some GCC countries, this is perhaps precisely what the leadership intends.

Please read the rest.