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Dubai arrests online influencer after poking fun at wealthy Emiratis in viral video

An Asian expat-slash-social media influencer has been arrested in Dubai after poking fun at the lavish lifestyles of the city people and making a satirical video in which he acts as a brash Emirati inside a luxury car showroom and offers to buy the most luxurious car in town.

On June 7, Influencer Hamdan Al Rind, who goes by the name, car expert on Tiktok, created a video content wearing a ‘kandura’ — the long white robe worn by Emirati men — along with sunglasses, and a surgical mask while shouting at the dealership’s employees as his assistants roamed around a stretcher filled with bucks. In an interview via Associated Press with Ahmed Mansour, the showroom’s owner, he narrated the scene wherein the expat asked for his permission to shoot a video, which the former granted.

“He came in, he wanted to shoot a video, I said ‘yes’,” Mr. Mansour said.

via TikTok
Hamdan Al Rind

“Some people thought it was offensive, some people thought it was funny, everyone has their own opinion. I thought he understood the law,” the owner added.

According to Federal Prosecution for Combating Rumors and Cybercrimes, Al Rind is accused of Internet abuse by creating “propaganda that stirs up the public opinion and harms the public interest”. The said video was deemed offensive and promoted the wrong mental image of Emirati citizens.

Dubai is more socially relaxed compared to other Middle East countries, with a lenient dress code, pubs and bars serving booze, and other entertainment spots where you can enjoy freely. However, a cybercrime law made in 2022 forbids any forms of speech and expression related to journalism and satire that promote insults toward political authorities and the federation of sheikhdoms.

In June this year, a similar case was also recorded: A UAE resident of Arab nationality was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine amounting to $136,000 for violating the hate-speech laws with a video ranting against men and domestic workers.


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