Will Jack Discuss UAE’s Crackdown on Arab Dissidents During Dubai Visit?

Published June 25th, 2019 - 12:54 GMT
Jack tweeted a photo of the entry stamp he got upon arrival to Dubai which had a special welcome sticker with the iconic Twitter logo bird on it next to the Dubai skyline.
Jack tweeted a photo of the entry stamp he got upon arrival to Dubai which had a special welcome sticker with the iconic Twitter logo bird on it next to the Dubai skyline.

 

The latest tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been taking the social media platform by storm after he tweeted a photo of the UAE’s entry stamp on his own passport.


On Monday, Jack has arrived in Dubai on his international tour, TweepTour, in which he is set to visit Twitter’s headquarters around the world marking the 13th anniversary for launching the platform.

On his Twitter account, Jack tweeted a photo of the entry stamp he got upon arrival to Dubai which had a special welcome sticker with the iconic Twitter logo bird on it next to the Dubai skyline.

Along with the photo, Jack tweeted in Arabic “Marhaba Dubai” [Hello, Dubai]. 

It did not take the tweet a few hours until it got viral with thousands of likes and comments; most of which were from Emirati users who welcomed Jack in Dubai in Arabic and English.

Meanwhile, the visit has reminded Arab activists and the UAE’s critics of earlier accusations surrounded social media platforms, including Twitter, of being controlled by authoritarian governments.

It all started late in 2018, when Twitter’s Dubai office was accused of being infiltrated by spies who work in favor of the Saudi and Emirati governments. It all started after reports confirmed a Saudi dissident journalist, who used to run a Twitter account called Kashkool, had been arrested earlier this year inside Saudi Arabia. It was unclear how the journalist was located, but reports suggested it was via geo-location on this twitter account - with the details leaked by the Dubai office.

The Saudi journalist, Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser was believed to be secretly running his Twitter account, through which he was reporting human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia in addition to criticizing the Saudi royal family; the House of Saud.

The story did not receive enough international coverage until Twitter suspended the account of Saudi father of activist Loujain Hathloul after he tweeted about the sexual harassment and torture his daughter faced in prison in December 2018.

Al Hathloul’s account suspension was predictable as it began to confirm rumors that were denied for months by the Saudi government. Moreover, it confirmed the Saudi government’s control over the Arabic Twitter.

The fact that Twitter has its regional headquarters of the Middle East in Dubai has placed the UAE in the spotlight, in part because of its ever cloesening relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Jack’s visit to Dubai raises questions whether he would discuss the censorship issue with the Emirati government to stop the government’s control over freedoms or opt for UAE investments instead. It should be noted that Saudi Arabia indirectly owns a massive shareholding in the platform, though the private businessman Prince Alwaleed.


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