UAE police warn social media users over sharing offensive content

Laws prohibit the sharing of indecent material, and of rumours and fake news

Penalties are severe for making libellous or abusive comments and spreading rumours on social media. Getty Images
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Dubai Police have urged social media users to be cautious when sharing content online.

The warning came after a group of people were arrested for posing naked on the balcony of an apartment in Dubai Marina, in an apparent publicity stunt.

Footage and photographs were widely circulated on social media.

Under laws designed to tackle the misuse of online platforms, even sharing material posted by others can be an offence.

Here, The National lists the kind of posts that people should avoid, to ensure they stay on the right side of the law.

Sharing indecent photos and posts

Article 17 of the New Cyber Crime Law punishes anyone who produces and/or publishes pornographic material or any other material that may go against public morals or good conduct.

Any person found guilty of doing so will be jailed and fined between Dh250,000 ($68,398) and Dh500,000, said UAE law firm Al Tamimi & Co.

“Dubai Police warns against such unacceptable behaviours, which do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society,” the force said on Twitter.

In this case, the officials said the penalty for engaging in lewd behaviour in public was up to six months in jail and a fine of Dh5,000.

Under the laws explained by law firm Al Tamimi, if the subject in any pornographic post/content is a juvenile under 18, or if it is designed to tempt juveniles, the offender can be jailed for a minimum of one year with a fine of between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000.

Under Article 19, any person found guilty of coercing another to engage in indecent activities will be jailed and fined between Dh250,000 and Dh1,000,000.

The jail term can be five years.

Twitter urged users to help the company take on violent imagery, offensive language and illegal streaming of sports games in a Middle East-wide campaign launched in November 2019. AP


Posting defamatory comments on social media or invading a person's privacy is an offence in the UAE.

Tagging a person or posting other people's pictures or videos without their consent, threatening others, spreading information that is not verified by the official sources and gossiping about people or maligning them are criminal offences.

According to Article 20, any person who insults others or posts something that is contemptuous shall be jailed and fined between Dh250,000 and Dh500,000.

Insulting public-sector employees on social media is also against the rules.

Contempt of religion

Article 35 of the New UAE Cyber Crime Law makes it illegal to insult religion on social media.

Those who do so will be jailed and fined between Dh250,000 to Dh1,000,000.

UAE media content guidelines

Follow the media rules in the country. These include:

- respect the UAE, its symbols and the political system

- show respect to other religions

- respect the culture and heritage of the UAE

- do not offend national unity nor social cohesion and/or incite sectarian, regional or tribal conflict

- respect national and international policies of the Emirates

- do not post/publish rumours, misleading or biased news that has a negative impact on the economy

- respect government policies to promote national identity

- do not publish or broadcast information harmful to children, women and other social groups, or that would incite others toward hatred and violence

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