No movie censorship: why the UAE is going liberal

The move is the latest in the country’s attempts to find sources of income other than oil and attract foreign investment.

Under the new film screening standards, the UAE Media Regulatory Authority will introduce a new 21+ age category for viewers, instead of censoring sensitive and sexual content. Representative photo

In a move that will describe it as broad-minded and inclusive to other cultures, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to stop censoring films in theaters.

The move is one of the latest implemented by the country in what is seen as its attempts to find alternative sources of income other than oil and attract foreign investment.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven monarchies, introduced a series of 40 legal reforms, including decriminalizing premarital sex and alcohol consumption and criminalizing “honor killings”. The country, earlier this month, also announced that it would implement a four-and-a-half-day work week for government offices, in which Saturdays and Sundays will be public holidays. A departure from Dubai’s earlier culture that the following Fridays and Saturdays were public holidays, the latest decision is more in line with the Western format of the weekend. Friday, revered in the Arab world as a day of prayer, will be considered a half-day of work from next year.

Under the new film screening standards, the UAE Media Regulatory Authority will introduce a new 21+ age category for viewers, instead of censoring sensitive and sexual content. The authority in a Twitter post said international films will now be screened in theaters in their original version and without any cuts, albeit for the aforementioned age category.

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Censorship commissions in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries typically cut scenes showing nudity, homosexuality and other sensitive content for viewers.

Also Read: UAE First In World To Start Four-And-A-Half-Day Work Week

Quoting book 2018 Shakespeare in the Arabian Peninsula, a Texas Orator article said the country is using censorship to defend the conservative values ​​of its ruling elite. According to the article, the censorship committee “thus blocks websites, removes kissing and sex scenes from movies and some satellite TV channels, and scrambles the names of dishes containing non-halal foods, such as pork.” and bacon, in the episodes of Masterchef ”.

Such censorship can end once the government implements its plan. Relaxing these laws and granting personal freedoms are expected to change the perception of the UAE on the world stage.

The westernization of the Gulf nation, reflected in the wide range of reforms it has recently implemented, has also resulted in the government’s attempt to encourage the peaceful coexistence of different people of different identities, especially when more than 80 percent of the UAE’s population is non-local.

A hub for trade and tourism, the oil-rich state relies heavily on foreign labor with high wages, low taxes and a safe atmosphere for people of all religions and nationalities to run its economy.

The UAE recently reached a peace deal with the UAE and is set to host the Dubai World Expo, an event that will see the participation of 25 million visitors.

As the UAE is home to a considerable number of individuals of Indian descent, it also maintains close ties with India.

The country also introduced in 2019 long-term residence visas known as the ‘golden visa’, which would allow foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the help of a sponsor and benefit 100% ownership of their business.