(Photo credit: Al Roeya)
Former employees at the Emirati Al Roeya newspaper say dozens of journalists were sacked and their publication dissolved as a result of a news article detailing the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on low-income residents of the UAE.
The economic report, published in early June, was considered “ordinary” by the editors at Al Roeya, according to eight people with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke with AP.
But its publication caused Emirati authorities to accuse the staff of “harming the reputation and entity of the state” by highlighting the repercussions of a global crisis.
Just hours later, almost 60 journalists and editors were informed by managers that they were fired. Other reports say the number may be as high as 90 journalists.
According to AP, only three employees remain working on the Al Roeya website.
“In the meeting, it was mentioned that the institution will be permanently closed due to a report that should not have been published. More than 60 employees will pay the price and lose their jobs and sit at their home looking for a new opportunity elsewhere,” one of the sacked journalists told Lebanese news outlet Raseef22.
What particularly irked officials were the interviews carried out for the report, in which Emirati citizens said they often drove to Oman to fuel their vehicles as the cost was cheaper.
Al-Roeya – Arabic for ‘The Vision’ – is owned by the Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments (IMI) company, and was considered one of the Emirates’ most established publications.
IMI officials claim the closure is part of the newspaper’s “long-planned transformation” into an Arabic-language business outlet with CNN.
Other publications run by IMI include Sky News Arabia and the English-language newspaper The National. The umbrella company is owned by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, billionaire Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Unlike its Gulf neighbors, the UAE started lifting fuel subsidies in 2015, leading citizens to be shocked at the pump this year in the wake of the global fuel crisis caused by western sanctions on Russia’s energy sector.