Bill seen as attempt to stop economic reporting

LONDON — Authorities in the United Arab Emirates are drafting a new media law which has already earned the rebuke of local journos for what they fear is an attempt to curtail their freedom of expression.

The law, which is being drafted by the National Media Council, will punish media outlets for “carrying misleading news that harms the national economy” and for “insulting” members of the royal family.

The law, which has yet to be approved by prexy Sheik Khalifa al-Nahyan but was passed by the legislative council in January, comes at a time when the global economic recession has hit Emirates such as Dubai particularly hard.

Reports have been rife in recent weeks of mass layoffs, ex-pat former employees leaving their cars at Dubai airport with the keys still in the ignition and a meltdown in the real estate market.

The law is being seen by local journos as an attempt by authorities to block them from fully reporting the economic situation. Foreign media outlets, however, will be unaffected by the draft law.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more