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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK

World: Middle East

Porn raises temperatures in Gulf

Half the homes in Ras al-Khaimah have satellite dishes

by Frank Gardner in the UAE

Satellite TV viewers in the Gulf Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah are being exposed to a wave of foreign pornography, according to a local police chief.

Despite being one of the poorest Emirates in the Gulf, shops selling small satellite TV dishes and electronic smart cards are doing a roaring trade here.

For less than $300 residents can buy a package giving them access to 99 foreign channels, 18 of which are devoted to pornography, according to the police.

Pornography is prohibited in all the Gulf states as being contrary to a conservative Islamic value.

But the head of Ras al-Khaimah's criminal investigation department, Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah al-Hadidi has been quoted in the local paper, Gulf News, as saying the satellite dishes had now become a serious threat to society.

According to retailers half the homes in Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven Sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, now have satellite dishes.

Addicted to pornography

Colonel al-Hadidi complained there had been no monitoring or censorship of the imported channels so the police could do nothing.

But he said unless measure were taken soon, the younger generation risked becoming addicted to pornography.

A spokesman for the Ras al-Khaimah Department of Culture and Information told the Gulf News that "it was a matter of human conscience".

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