Advice to angry people: be very careful using messaging services in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). If you are caught texting swear words you risk being saddled with extortionate fines.
The Express reports that new legislation – applicable both to Emirati citizens and the many British holidaymakers, bankers, lawyers, footballers and musicians living in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or one of the five other Emirates – could even land offenders in a local jail cell. Expatriates could also risk deportation from the UAE under the new federal law governing online communications.
Maximum fines of up to Dh250,000 (roughly £45,000) can be levied on those who use foul language online. Lest you think that is an idle threat, according to news website Emarat Al Youm one man has already received the maximum fine for swearing in a message he wrote on WhatsApp.
The unnamed local was first hit with a fine of Dh3,000 (around £500), but his sentence was then thrown out by the Federal Supreme Court for being too lenient and the prosecutor secured a retrial of the potty-mouthed offender.
Although the popular holiday destination Dubai is part of the UAE, it is not part of the Federal Judicial System. As such it has its own court system which does not answer to the Federal Supreme Court. That does not give you a free finger, however, as the law against online use of bad language applies there as much as anywhere else in the UAE.