x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Emarat Al Youm back in print

The Arabic daily Al Emarat Al Youm returned to news-stands yesterday after a 20-day publication ban for libel.

Emarat Al Youm being sold in the capital.
Emarat Al Youm being sold in the capital.

Abu Dhabi // The Arabic daily Al Emarat Al Youm returned to news-stands yesterday after a 20-day publication ban for libel. The Federal Court of Appeal this month upheld a lower court's suspension of the paper's licence because of a 2006 article alleging that Abu Dhabi's Warsan Stables had drugged its racehorses to enhance their performance. In its first edition after the 20-day break, the newspaper ran a column by Mohammed Yousef, head of the UAE Journalists Association, discussing the ban.

Speaking to The National, Mr Yousef described the suspension as "collective punishment" for the staff and readers and called for changes to the UAE press law. Al Emarat Al Youm is read by a quarter of the UAE's Arabic-speaking population, according to an Ipsos study. "We hope and ask that the law will be changed so that the authorities cannot revoke licences like this," Mr Yousef said. "From the beginning, we have resisted the articles in the new draft media law relating to the ability of the courts to suspend licences or close newspapers down."

UAE media law, in effect since 1980, is being revised. The new law, a draft of which was passed by the Federal National Council and awaits final approval, still allows courts to suspend or revoke licences. On its website, readers welcomed the return of the paper to print. "I hope that this interruption is not an impact on the continuity of openness and frankness with which you have reported," one reader wrote.

lmorris@thenational.ae