UAE authorities urged to ban popular online game PUBG

Federal National Council member calls for game to be blocked due to violent content

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) game is displayed on a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S9 Plus smartphone in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, March 24, 2019. PUBG is a Hunger Games-style competition where 100 players face off with machine guns and assault rifles until only one is left standing. After China's Tencent Holdings Ltd. introduced a mobile version of the death match that's free to play, it has become the most popular smartphone game in the world, with enthusiasts from the U.S. to Russia to Malaysia. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg
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A Federal National Council member has called on UAE authorities to ban the popular online game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

The game – which pits characters against each other in a virtual fight to the death – has already been outlawed by Iraq's parliament and blocked in the Indian state of Gujarat owing to concerns over its violent content.

The Federal National Council will debate whether the UAE should follow suit when it meets this week.

Naima Al Sharhan, Head of the FNC Committee of Education, has urged the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to block PUBG and similar games immediately after receiving complaints from parents.

Ms Al Sharhan told Al Roeya newspaper that the game had already been the subject of bans in other countries because of its promotion of violence among children.

The popular but brutal online game was blocked in Iraq after the parliament voted unanimously to ban the game for "inciting violence" in the war-torn country.

Nepal and India's western Gujarat state have also banned the game after concerns over its impact on young gamers.

PUBG, created by South Korean company Bluehole Inc, has fast become a global phenomenon, being downloaded more than 360 million times since its release in late 2017.

A cyber security expert said that PUBG continues to update its game play modes and graphics to encourage young people to keep on playing.

"They [the game publishers] are constantly updating and developing the game in a way that attracts players, inspires curiosity and motivates them to compete,” said Abdelnour Sami.

“It is built on a purely commercial and profit basis.”

He also said that the combat games, such as PUBG and Fortnite, are based on the concept of eliminating others to achieve victory.

Mr Sami said that even blocking the game in the UAE might not stop determined players from getting their bloodthirsty fix, as many will try to find ways around any ban.

He said the voice chat option in the game poses another potential danger, as it could lead some groups to use the popularity of the game to influence young minds for criminal purposes or to harass young players.