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The New Arab Staff

Emirati academic calls for ‘conditional’ end to UAE block on Qatari media

The New Arab and its sister publication are among those blocked in the UAE. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2021

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An Emirati academic suggested an end to the block on Qatari media outlets, but said that monitoring should continue.
A well-known Emirati academic has suggested that a block on Qatari media in the UAE should be lifted, in light of the reconciliation between the Gulf states, but said that outlets should be monitored for their content. 

Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science in the UAE, made the suggestion on Twitter.

"After the success of the first Emirati-Qatari dialogue to implement the mechanisms of Gulf reconciliation, and to proceed with confidence-building measures between the UAE and Qatar, I propose to lift the blocking of Qatari media outlets and websites," he wrote.

Qatari media outlets were blocked in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, after the quartet launched a blockade on the Gulf state in 2017.

The banned media outlets were perceived as being critical of the UAE's policies

The New Arab is among the media outlets still blocked in the UAE. 

While calling for the block to be lifted, Abdullah also said UAE authorities should be "monitoring them and monitoring what they broadcast, and submitting a monthly report, if it became clear that it intentionally offended the UAE from now on".

The Gulf states and Egypt agreed to restore cooperation with Qatar following the Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the year. 

Abdullah's comments come in the wake of the first official meeting between the UAE and Qatar in Kuwait this week, where the two Gulf states discussed future cooperation, the Emirates News Agency reported.

They discussed "joint mechanisms and procedures for implementing the Al-Ula statement", and the need to maintain "Gulf cohesion and develop joint Gulf action in the interest of the GCC countries and their citizens, and to achieve stability and prosperity in the region".

Read more: How the GCC reconciliation deal could reshape the region's power balance

Commenters on Twitter claimed that such a suggestion revealed the failure of the UAE to stop critical reports of the country by the likes of Al Jazeera

"Why did the UAE block [the outlets]? Qatar did not block any of the Emirati websites. This is conclusive evidence that Emirati media has no influence on the Qatari interior," wrote one commentator. 

"In 2021, Arab regimes still believe that control of the media space is possible. You live in a security fist lie," said another, referring to suggestions of continued monitoring. 

 

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