The UAE Journalists' Association has told the mighty Gulf News (800g) today that it will provide legal support to bloggers facing legal action in the UAE 'provided they abide by the ethical and professional rules of the profession'. The piece comes as part of a spread on press freedom and the state of media in the United Arab Emirates.
"The new policy helps in improving the quality of blogging in the Emirates and enhances the transparency and the credibility of news reporting on cyber sites. The only condition on the bloggers to avail themselves of the services of the association is to identify themselves clearly and follow 9 ethical rules in reporting or casting their views, including offering a level playing field for different parties related to the issue of reporting.'
And what, you may as, rules are they? Thanks to GN, we find out that they are:
"Bloggers should refrain from using inflammatory language or tarnish the credibility of an establishment or individual without substantial evidences. Those who continue casting their views under vague identities will not be able to seek the association's help."
So no more anonyblogging, folks. Not if you want the help of the UAE Journalist's Association, anyway. 'Vague identities' are out. I wonder just what a 'vague identity' is...
Or 'tarnishing the credibility of an establishment'. That's a nono, too. Damn. So no criticising any companies, then. Hands off HSBC and Al Habtoor, Alexander. Let alone the RTAs and EIDAs that make our lives so very wonderful and joyous.
There's no mention of what precisely the '9 golden rules' are but I did post here about the UAE Journalists' Association Code of Ethics, which is a list of 17 rules. Strangely, it's not available on the UAE Journalists' Association website which is, incidentally, only available in Arabic. So I guess you might as well just pick the 9 you like best from that list and abide by them, folks.
Interestingly, there's also quite a grumpy editorial from GN's editor-in-chief, linked here, which is worth a read, flagging up major concerns with the much-awaited new UAE media law. I do recommend a read of this piece most heartily:
"Furthermore, the long-awaited new press law, currently under consideration to be issued soon in its final version, has failed considerably in addressing the needs of the journalistic body and the changes that have taken place so far in the country."
Hot stuff indeed from Abdul Hamid Ahmad about the new draft law that, among other things, replaces a prison term for journalists (and bloggers, then?) with a million Dirham fine.