Spec Ops game preview blocked in UAE

A preview of the much-anticipated video game has been blocked by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

The battle scenes are set against familiar landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa that have been ravaged by powerful sandstorms.

DUBAI // Online previews of a new computer game set in Dubai after the city is devastated by a natural disaster are being blocked in the UAE.

The battle scenes in Spec Ops: The Line are set against familiar landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa that have been ravaged by powerful sandstorms.

Demo versions that can be downloaded have been placed online by the developer, US-based 2K Games, and new videos showing sequences of gameplay have been released.

However games fans who try to view the material are directed to a page that says: "Access to this site is currently blocked. The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories of the UAE's Internet Access Management Policy."

The decision to block sites is taken by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority rather than the phone operators, Etisalat and du.

The authority said: "Spec Ops: The Line video game has not been approved by the concerned authorities (National Media Council) in the UAE.

"Consequently the website of the game has been blocked from access in the UAE."

The game is due to be released worldwide on June 26 for the Windows PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.

When news that 2K - a sister company of the creator of Grand Theft Auto - was developing the game first emerged there were suggestions that the National Media Council would ban it.

However, Juma Obaid Alleem, the council's director of media content, said no decision would be taken until his department had an opportunity to view the entire game.

"We haven't seen the game, we only saw a summary of it," he added. "We cannot decide anything until we see it all, whether it's a film or CD or game or anything.

"We'll discuss this with the distributor, Red Entertainment Distribution, and see if it's OK or not OK for the UAE. We don't refuse anything until we see it."

Tristan Irons, the distributor's marketing and PR manager, said he did not wish to comment until after the council reached a decision on whether or not the game would be banned.

Waleed Kharma, chief executive of Dubai-based games developer Piranha Byte, said he was surprised to learn that the demo was being blocked.

"It should be a good thing because you're really promoting the place, but maybe the authorities don't want people to see Dubai getting destroyed. I think they need to be more open about it, because Dubai's a very open place."