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Media: Freedom of expression and of the press is granted by the constitution, but in practice this right is restricted by the

government, as reported by Freedom House 2013. According to the US Department of State 2012, most media outlets are government-owned and conform to non-transparent guidelines. Journalists face defamation charges in case of publication of defamatory or negative materials about the government, so the majority of journalists exercise self-censorship. Freedom House 2013 reports that this has further intensified as the Federal National Council adopted a draft 'regulations and media activities' bill in 2009. When passed into law, the bill will allow imposing fines of up to USD 1 million for criticising the head of state or public officials and of several thousand of USD in fines for publishing "misleading" articles. Freedom House 2013 further notes that the UAE has the Arab world's most restrictive law for printed matters and publications as it regulates all aspects of the media. The law prohibits domestic and foreign publications and prohibits criticism of public officials or members of the ruling families. The same report states that there were few reports of journalists suffering physical attacks; however, they did endure intimidation and harassment. Non-Emirati journalists generally face harsher measures, such as dismissal and deportation. All publications are required to be licenced by the National Media Council (NMC), including foreign media outlets operating in the Dubai Media Free Zone (DMFZ), an area where the press can operate with relative freedom. Nevertheless, the government misuses the NMC and uses it to directly go through all the media content before it becomes publicly available, reports the US Department of State 2012. According to Freedom House 2013, online censorship is extensive and penalises activism and free expression. The UAE is ranked 114th out of 179 countries on the Reporters Without Borders 2013, while Freedom House 2013 ranks the UAE 164th out of 197 countries in relation to press freedom, describing its press environment as "not free". Civil Society: The government places limits on freedom of assembly and of association. The US Department of State 2012 reports both that public meetings for political purposes are forbidden and that the government in practice does not interfere with non-political meetings unless the crowd becomes violent. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have to register with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and can thereafter apply for subsidies from the government. CSOs are generally not allowed to focus on political issues, and foreign NGOs cannot have a base in the country. However, the government allows for limited visits of their representatives and of international organisations addressing human rights issues, and the government collaborates with them. According to the UNDP's Programme of Governance in the Arab Region, no civil organisation working with anticorruption is active in the UAE. CSOs have to follow the government's censorship policy and are not allowed to publish any material without prior government approval, as described under the 'Media' section, above. Arab Center for Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity (ACRLI): The ACRLI is a regional nonprofit NGO with its headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, and with affiliated offices in several Arab countries. The ACRLI is committed to the study of legal and social aspects that have an influence on good governance and can rely on its members' high degree of expertise in the legal and information

technology fields. The ACRLI publishes reports focusing on issues like the state of commercial law or the modernisation of public prosecutor offices in a number of Arab countries. Gulf Research Center (GRC): The GRC is an independent research centre in Dubai. The GRC aims at producing high quality academic studies on political, social and economic issues relevant to the Gulf region and disseminating this knowledge to the public, to corporate enterprises and to governmental decision-makers.