GTA IV game banned in UAE

UAE National Media Council bans Grand Theft Auto IV, distributor confirms

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By  Matt Wade Published  May 28, 2008

The UAE video game distributor for Rockstar Games has confirmed it has been stopped from distributing Grand Theft Auto IV (GTAIV) to stores in the Emirates.

Red Entertainment first applied to the UAE's National Media Council (NMC) - the body that censors the distribution of media products in the Emirates - at the end of April, to ascertain whether the game could legally be sold throughout the country.

The firm has subsequently been told by the NMC that it cannot distribute the title, in any console or computer format, to any retail stores within the UAE.

The ban appears likely due to the game's controversial content, which features strong violence and drug use and is therefore not in keeping with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.

Despite this ban, GTA IV appears likely to remain on sale at Duty Free outlets across the region, as these outlets through which consumers leave the UAE are not thought to fall under the remit of the NMC.

3435 days ago
Ahmed

Hi Matt, This is no surprise as the previous version of GTA was removed from the shelves of the retailers in the UAE by orders of the UAE National Media Council. The question is why would Red Distribution try to bring GTA4 in the UAE? Maybe because "Industry analysts predict that the game will sell over six million copies in its first week of sales, netting $400 million, far outstripping the sums made by major Hollywood film launches" ? Did they (Red Distribution) ever consider "the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates"? It would be good to hear from Mr.Michael Wombwell, CEO of Red Distribution, who has recently moderated the session of CES Hometech Dubai with the topic 'The Drive for Gaming in 2008". Does the drive for gaming in Dubai 2008 include GTA4, and the like? Another thing. I recently traveled through Dubai Airport, and did not see GTA4 on the shelves of DDF. A salesman said it had been removed, and returned to the supplier. To me this is no surprise as to the best of my knowledge the jurisdiction of the UAE National Media Council extends to all the Duty Free Outlets across the country. It would help if you clarify this issue directly with the National Media Council, and not only with Red Distribution before making public statements. Thanks&Regards, Ahmed NB I appreciate if you publish my comment, and not reply to me in private as i believe a public discussion on the mature games issue, especially notorious ones, would serve to the benefit of many families in the UAE. Editors Reply: Yes Ahmed, I think you are probably correct about Red. The game is highly regarded by many gamers and has serious brand recognition the world over. Therefore as the official distribution partner of Rockstar Games, I would imagine that Red is some obliged to at least attempt to at least find out whether a game is distributable here. That said, I don’t think any of us really, on Windows magazine, in the wider IT industry (or even Red themselves), ever seriously imagined GTA4 would be permitted for sale in the UAE, but with such a popular game Red likely considered it still worth applying to the NMC. From a cultural values point of view, it is the NMC’s job to allow and disallow media products such as GTA, not the role of Red or any other distributor. The NMC and its decisions define the boundaries of what content is and isn’t acceptable. Re: DDF, again as I understand it from Red, each individual Duty Free outlet can either accept or choose not to sell the title. It may be of course that Dubai Duty Free outlets has a separate relationship with the NMC.

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