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Man held in UAE for ‘abusing internet’ in car showroom spoof

man buy expensive cars uae arrested

A man has been detained in the United Arab Emirates over a comedy internet video that shows him dressed as an Emirati and pretending to buy flashy cars with wads of cash, official media said.

The UAE resident was accused of posting “propaganda that stirs up the public opinion and harms the public interest”, the state WAM news agency said on Sunday.

His detention, pending investigations, was ordered by the Federal Prosecution for Combating Rumours and Cybercrimes. He was also charged with publishing content that “insults the Emirati society”.

The man, who hails from a country in Asia according to WAM, is filmed in traditional Emirati robes as he enters a luxury car showroom with two assistants carrying a large tray of cash.

Speaking English with a Gulf Arab accent, he asks for the highest-priced car and then rejects it, saying that at 2.2 million dirhams (nearly $600,000), it’s not expensive enough.

“I need expensive, brother,” he says, tossing stacks of cash to the store assistants to buy coffee, and ordering four pricey cars including a Rolls-Royce in a matter of seconds.

The video “reveals impudence and lack of appreciation of the value of money, in a manner that promotes a wrong and offensive mental image of Emirati citizens and ridicules them”, the WAM report said.

The Public Prosecution office also summoned the car showroom’s owner, and urged social media users to “consider societal characteristics and embedded values of the UAE society… so as to avoid falling under the force of the law”.

The UAE’s laws against spreading “rumours” and false information keep a tight rein on internet discourse in the oil-rich Gulf monarchy.

Last month, a woman was given a six-month suspended prison sentence after she posted video of an exchange at a UAE book fair with a Kuwaiti author who had been imprisoned in the United States over sex offences.

The woman was also fined a total of 60,000 AED ($16,000) for invasion of privacy and insults, and had her Twitter account “permanently closed”, WAM reported at the time.

In January 2021, the Public Prosecution summoned several people for sharing social media footage of a Yemeni rebel attack on Abu Dhabi.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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