UAE residents urge press freedom

The majority of people living in the UAE would like to see full freedom of the press, a new survey has suggested.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  July 24, 2005

The majority of people living in the UAE would like to see full freedom of the press, a new survey has suggested. According to the YouGov poll, 85% of those questioned believed “it would be better for the Middle East if newspapers in the region were allowed freedom of expression, including the right to criticise their own country”. Support for this was strongest among Western ex-pats, of whom 90% agreed, 60% strongly. The rules of freedom are unclear. Within the UAE, the Publishing and Printing Law of 1980 states: “It’s prohibited to publish news that causes harm to the national currency or causes damage to the national economy.” The annual survey of Reporters Without Borders, which was published in May, also suggested press freedom was an issue across much of the region. It ranked 167 countries around the world. Saudi Arabia scored worst in the region in position 159. Bahrain was 143rd, the UAE 137th and Egypt 128th. From within the region, Lebanon scored best at 87th. Meanwhile, the YouGov poll, commissioned by ITP, parent company to Campaign Middle East, also examined usage of the internet in the region. The most popular reason for its use, selected by 76% of people, was to follow news in other parts of the world, followed by researching what other companies are doing (57%) and following Middle East news (50%). On issues of trust, the BBC scored highest, with 78% saying they trusted it, compared to 20% that did not. CNN was the least trusted among Arabs, of whom 64% said they did not trust it. Aljazeera was trusted by 46%, while 29% did not trust it.

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