In March 2015, a professor from New York University (NYU) was barred from boarding a flight from New York to Abu Dhabi at the request of UAE officials, who cited unspecified security concerns.
In 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum succeeded his late brother as ruler of the emirate of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE.
The 40-seat Federal National Council (FNC) serves as an advisory body, reviewing proposed laws and questioning federal government ministers.
A 2012 cyber law allows for the imprisonment of anyone who publishes online content that insults the state, organizes antigovernment protests, or is deemed a threat to national security. Among several cases during the year, in August 2015, human rights activist and academic Nasser bin Ghaith was arrested days after using social media to criticize the Egyptian security forces’ treatment of protesters in 2013; the grounds for his arrest were unclear and his whereabouts remained unknown at year’s end.
Bin Ghaith had previously been arrested in 2011 as part of the so-called UAE 5, a group of activists who were indicted in 2011 for “publicly insulting” high-ranking officials but subsequently pardoned. Islam is the official religion, and the majority of citizens are Sunni Muslims.
Since 2011, the UAE has aggressively cracked down on suspected members of the Association for Reform and Guidance, or Al-Islah—a group formed in 1974 to peacefully advocate for democratic reform—accusing them of being foreign agents of the Muslim Brotherhood intent on overthrowing the government.