Al Roeya gives place to A CNN Arabic outlet following disputed over an article on energy subsidies.
An article on how Emiratis were suffering the rising fuel costs this summer was published in a local newspaper. The paper’s print edition was discontinued within a few weeks, and several staff were fired.
Editors concluded that the report concerning rising fuel costs in the Al Roeya daily in Dubai was appropriate even under the tight press rules of the country. However, within weeks, senior editors were questioned, scores of workers were let off, and newspaper stopped publishing.
Al Roeya was shut down, according to the publisher, International Media Investments of Abu Dhabi, because CNN converted it into a new Arabic-language commercial outlet Eight individuals with firsthand information of the newspaper’s huge staff cutbacks, nevertheless, corroborated that the mass firings took place just after the piece on UAE fuel costs.
They provided their stories under the confidentiality clause out of concern for retaliation, which reflects the restrictions placed on local news media and free expression in the Emirates.
Observers claim that local media journalists frequently use censor themselves. An ME research specialist at the Freedom House in American capital told the media that Abu Dhabi promotes itself as democratic and welcoming to investment while continuing its restrictions. “Censorship is rampant, online and offline … It limits the work that journalists are able to do,” Cathryn Grothe explained.
The corporation emphasized that its ambitions to create CNN Business Arabic emerged after months of talks but IMI refused to provide further details.
In order to give Arab youth local and international news, IMI relaunched Al Roeya, “The Vision,” in 2019. It was established in seven years earlier.
Earlier this year, while gas costs were skyrocketing, the piece that sparked the paper’s dilemma was released.
Al Roeya under Repression
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the wealthy brother of the Emirati president, who also owns the British football team Manchester City, is the owner of IMI. The National, a broadsheet daily in English, and Sky News Arabia are important IMI publications.
The UAE, unlike its neighbors, has gradually ended energy subsidies, leaving locals who were used to cheap gasoline shocked as oil prices rose as a result of Russia-Ukraine war.
Al Roeya spoke with Emiratis who have used cost-cutting strategies for the story. A few residents who live close to the Omani border told Al Roeya they entered the sultanate to fill up their vehicles. Drivers paid just half as much for petrol in Oman as in their own country.
On June 2, the news instantly went viral on social media, particularly the anecdote regarding cross-border gasoline fill-ups. However, the item was taken down from the website within a few hours and was not released in print edition.
Weeks later, a few of the article’s contributors received calls to the workplace. The group was offered the option to quit with increased perks or be fired with potential penalties a week later. Based on a sample of one the letter of resignation that the Associated Press was able to get, those who signed their resignation also accepted non-disclosure clauses.
IMI’s CEO Nart Bouran came to the newsroom for a visit more days later. He revealed the closing of Al Roeya and the impending debut of the Arabic-language right company with CNN there.
Unknowns sources said that at least 35 people lost their careers in one day. Others claimed that hundreds more employees were fired with retirement funds on top of that. By and large, Al Roeya dispute exposed the media freedom condition in UAE.