This is a startling reminder of the UAE’s cybercrime and hate speech laws…

Last year an Emirati woman was fined Dhs500,000 for WhatsApp messages she sent to her uncle, and now a Lebanese businessman in Dubai has been given the same fine because of SMSes he sent to his former business partner. He’s also been given three months in jail, and will be deported after he’s finished his sentence.

Gulf News reports that the 39-year-old expat sent “blasphemous and offensive” SMSes to his former business partner, an Emirati man.

According to Gulf News he sent three text messages in which he threatened to harm the Emirati man and also cursed God.

The two men were business partners until they came into financial dispute last October, however the Emirati man testified that the offending messages were sent before that, when they were still business partners.

“In October, he sent me three SMSes and cursed God in one of them. He also wrote in an SMS that he would teach me how to deal with people and treat them … he also said that he would get back his money in his own way,” the Emirati said according to Gulf News.

The Lebanese man said the messages were about the financial dispute, the extent of which or details of we don’t know.

The ruling of a Dhs500,000 fine, 3 months in jail and deportation remains subject to appeal for the next 15 days.


The laws are pretty clear about what you can and can’t say over Whatsapp or email in Dubai: in fact it’s better to avoid saying anything negative at all.

Not only is it a criminal offence to drop an F-bomb in public, but it’s also against the law to use abusive language in WhatsApp messages – and that includes the ‘middle finger’ emoji. Under the UAE’s cyber crime laws, anyone convicted faces a fine of up to Dhs500,000, a prison sentence, and deportation.

Legal expert says: “The UAE Federal Law on Combating Cyber Crimes is relatively new and contains severe punishments. In addition to imprisonment and hefty fines, anyone found guilty of committing any of the crimes listed in the law also faces deportation.

“Article 20 states that slander, using abusive language, or insulting another person or entity using a computer network or any information technology means is a punishable crime. In addition, the Court of Cassation recently found that WhatsApp falls within the definition of ‘information technology’.

“With a punishment of imprisonment and a fine of up to Dhs500,000, it is best to avoid any sort of negative or insulting comments on all social media platforms, emails and WhatsApp.”


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Images: Getty