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Covid: UAE threatens jail for social media users who mock pandemic measures

Federal prosecutors said that people could be punished under new laws, which would involve at least two years of jail time and $54,000 fines
A shopkeeper wearing a protective mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic looks out a jewellery shop window at the Dubai Gold Souk in the Gulf emirate, on 10 March 2021 (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has threatened arrest for people who make fun of its anti-Covid measures after online photos and videos mocking the precautions. 

Federal prosecutors have said that social media users could be punished under new laws, which would involve at least two years' jail time and 200,000 AED ($54,450) fines for sharing misinformation concerning the pandemic. 

In a statement by the Federal Emergency Crisis and Disasters Prosecution, the warning followed “the recent circulation of photos and videos on social media…accompanied by comments and songs mocking the precautionary measures and calling on others to flout them.”

It added: “We, therefore, call upon members of the community to refrain from this behaviour, which is punishable by the law.”

On Tuesday, the country reported 2,511 new cases of Covid-19.

Since the Omicron wave began at the end of last year, the UAE has put in place several measures to keep positive cases low, including regular testing requirements in recent weeks. 

Residents in Abu Dhabi need a negative PCR result every two weeks, and tests are also need to enter government buildings. 

While the UAE has barred foreign travel for citizens who haven’t had a booster shot, they’re currently hosting the Dubai Expo, the six-month world fair that has attracted nine million visits so far.