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The state systematically blocks access to political, social, or religious content, from pornography and gambling to political discussion and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex) content.
In the past year, site blocking emerged as a political tool through which authorities sought to isolate Qatar, which the UAE had accused of supporting banned groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been classified by several Middle Eastern governments as a terrorist organization.
The cybercrime law criminalizes a wide range of legitimate online activities, including offending the state and its rulers or symbols, and insulting religion.
In May 2018, activist Ahmed Mansour was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on cybercrimes charges following a series of closed proceedings.
The UAE government maintains a 60 percent stake in Etisalat through its ownership in the Emirates Investment Company, The two companies are also the major mobile phone operators.
In January 2017, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the company behind Du, stated it will launch a new mobile provider under the Virgin Mobile brand.
Authorities blocked a number of Qatari media websites amid a dispute with the country.
Emirati users enjoy a robust information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and high connection speeds.
However, the major telecom companies are either fully or partially state-owned, resulting in high prices and weak competition.
The telecommunications industry remains tightly controlled by the government, which holds large stakes in the country’s two service providers.
Close ties between the government and telecommunications companies enable restrictions on free internet calling services (Vo IP), rampant censorship, and pervasive surveillance.