Man to face trial in UAE for swearing in WhatsApp message


WhatsApp_3The Federal Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a man convicted of swearing at a colleague in a WhatsApp message, after prosecutors said the fine handed out was far too lenient.

The Arab was fined Dhs3,000 by a court of first instance but prosecutors appealed the verdict, saying he should face a fine of up to Dhs250,000 or imprisonment.

The UAE’s most senior court backed prosecutors in a judgment issued this week.

Court documents showed that the man, whose nationality was not stated, was prosecuted after his colleague complained to police that he swore in a message and also threatened to harm him.

The victim had presented his mobile phone to prosecutors showing that the defendant had sent “insulting” words to him.

The documents did not state what exactly had been said.

Prosecutors charged him under recently introduced cyber crime laws.

“The message from the defendant, which contained insulting words, was found in the victim’s mobile phone”, said prosecutors.

The defendant had denied the charges.

Both the first instance and appeal courts found the man guilty of committing a cyber crime and ordered him to pay Dhs3,000. He was cleared of threatening to harm his colleague.

As 7DAYS reported last month, police and lawyers warned that sending a middle finger emoji sign – such as the one featured in Microsoft’s new mobile operating system – could land the user in court under the same laws.

A date for the new trial is yet to be confirmed.


  1. I understand that swearing is illegal, but what really gets me is the type of men that actually go to the police with this. What kind of weak, insecure, stupid, hurtful, person would do this??

    I don’t think such a person should even be called a man. some body called you names, well, boo hoo!!! just suck it up and move on. No need to ruin someone’s life over this. Just handle it like a man not a cry baby.

  2. If Big Brother is going to get this severe…’s time to go. This really gutted me. I realise that we don’t have freedom of speech and I accept that but to put a man in jail, charge him 250k and deport him for typing a swear word? Shame on the man that ratted out his colleague and cost him over a year’s salary because he is too sensitive. Shame. Cmon Karma.

  3. watching a film on television this evening on Fox Movies where the characters were spewing off f this and f that……
    So it’s ok for broadcasters to allow verbal swearing in multiple cases to the public of all ages on television but illegal to write it privately to one person in a private message? You’ve got millions of expats and more than half of them are swearing on social media and private electronic messages. This is a tough one to enforce and not quite fair. if they do snoop into someone’s whatsapp and make examples of people. Not great PR once again for Dubai. It’s getting immensely scary to live here. You could land in jail for any host of reason, many of which are not known to the public. Seems that for, almost, ten years I’ve been dodging prison just going about my normal life. It’s really something incredible and scary, if this is an actual new law.

  4. does device issuing the insult have to be inside borders of UAE for it to be a crime? What if the insult is sent from a device in an other juristiction and recipient device is inside UAE. How can court proof that an insult sent from a device was sent from the registered user of that device? What if somebody maliciously stole your device and started sending insults around to get you criminally prosecuted?

  5. According to the Article 298 of the Federal Law No 3 of 1987 (penal code UAE)
    Whoever willfully causes disturbance to others by using any telecommunications sets shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams.
    The court has the discretionary power to order, either an imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams.