Skip to main content

Dubai bans news site for report on failed building projects

Some of the failed projects led to acrimonious exchanges between state owned Nakheel and the German-owned developers
A picture taken in downtown Dubai on May 31, 2017, shows the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai skyline (AFP)

Authorities in the UAE have banned a leading business website and magazine for one month for allegedly publishing "false news" on failed building projects in Dubai.

Arabian Business (AB) withdrew the report, entitled "51 Dubai projects under liquidation process", and posted a statement stating "we would like to apologise unreservedly for the publication of this information, which was an oversight on our part.

"We have deleted it from all our electronic files. The information published related to projects dating from 2010 and as such are now outdated."

A Dubai courts liquidation list shows that all but four of the failed projects published in AB's list were up to date as recently as March 2016. 

Two of those not in the liquidation list, but in the website's report, the Niki Lauda Tower and Pershing Luxury Beach developments became the subject of controversy between state-owned developer Nakheel and German-owned Alternative Capital Invest (ACI) Real Estate.

In a January 2008 interview with Arabian Business, the managing director of ACI, Robin Lohman, blamed Nakheel for delaying the projects on Dubai's waterfront.

"We need to know from the master developer of Waterfront, which is Nakheel, if they plan to go ahead with the project now or not. Once we have these answers we can give to our investors answers," Lohmann said.

Nakheel received criticism in 2010 for delays in creating the infrastructure for the Waterfront project that would host Niki Lauda Tower and Pershing Luxury Beach developments.

Distribution halted for one month

Arabian Business' retraction came a day after Reuters calculated that Nakheel's second quarter profits had dropped by 22 percent.     

Dubai's media regulation office said the Arabian Business website had been "blocked and the distribution of its print edition halted for one month" starting from Wednesday night. 

"The magazine committed violation of the rules and regulations of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) by publishing false news that was based on inaccurate information," the statement said.

The DCCA is a government agency that oversees media in the city. The office is "mandated to promote Dubai as one of the world's most attractive cities for creative businesses", according to its website.

Representatives of Arabian Business were not reachable for comment Thursday.

On Friday the government's Dubai Media Office had denied there was any truth to the report, which it noted had been "copied by Qatari media".

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in May banned Qatari news giant Al Jazeera, arguing that the channel and website promote hate speech and extremism.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led bloc that suspended diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar last month over allegations Doha had ties to Iran and supported Islamist extremism. 

Qatar denies the accusations. 

Arabian Business is published by Dubai-based ITP Media Group, a Middle East publisher which also produces Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Esquire in the region.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.