UAE launches new National Media Office following results of Dubai bureau
The UAE is launching a new media office, following the success of a similar bureau covering Dubai.
The Emirates' leader, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, made a decree on Tuesday creating the organisation, UAE-based paper Gulf News reported.
The National Media Office (NMO) will advance and carry out the UAE's media strategies and maintain and improve its image.
"The formation of a UAE-wide National Media Office and its location within the Presidential Court is consistent with the centralisation and consolidation of power within Abu Dhabi that has occurred in recent years under the direction of Mohamed bin Zayed and members of his inner circle," said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.
It also comes despite the UAE being ranked 138th out of 180 countries in the 2022 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index.
The NMO will put forward and review media-related laws, working with media organisations to consolidate the country's media vision at home and abroad.
It will be responsible for crafting the UAE's state media narrative.
The Dubai Media Office, which according to its website is "responsible for implementing strategic communication plans for the Government of Dubai", has been considered a success.
It has 2.3 million followers on Twitter, 636,000 on Instagram and 389,000 on Facebook.
The new NMO's creation comes despite the UAE being a harsh environment for journalists.
"As soon as they emit the slightest criticism, journalists and bloggers find themselves in the crosshairs of the UAE's authorities, who are masters of online surveillance," RSF has previously said on its website.
"Offenders are usually accused of defamation, insulting the state or spreading false information designed to harm the country's image. For this, they risk long prison sentences and are likely to be mistreated."
Last year, it was reported that within days of a story about high fuel prices, top editors at the Al Roeya newspaper in Dubai were interrogated by authorities.
Within weeks, dozens of employees were fired and the print paper was declared dissolved.
The newspaper's publisher, Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments, or IMI, said Al Roeya's closure stems only from its transformation into a new Arabic language business outlet with CNN.
However, eight people with direct knowledge of the newspaper's mass firings told The Associated Press that the layoffs came in the immediate aftermath of the article on the UAE's gas prices.
Agencies contributed to this story.