The heads of Qatar’s two telecom companies have confirmed that dohanews.co has been blocked inside the country.
In a statement to Doha News on Sunday, Ooredoo CEO Waleed Al-Sayed said:
“We can confirm that access to the Doha News website is currently restricted in Qatar, due to concerns raised regarding the licensing of your organization.
The two authorities best-placed to help you resolve this issue are the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.”
Vodafone CEO Ian Gray sent a separate statement echoing the confirmation, saying, “As you are aware, access to the Doha News website across the network of Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C is currently blocked.”
“We kindly suggest that you make contact and liaise directly with the Ministry of Culture and also the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. We will be pleased to unblock access once the requirements of the relevant concerned parties have been met.”
Doha News was officially blocked in Qatar on Nov. 30, after operating for six years as a website without issue.
Initially, Qatar’s standard censored image popped up when users tried to access the site.
Now, however, the page only appears to look like it is having trouble loading.
News of the move quickly spread internationally last week, with several people criticizing authorities in Qatar for having double standards.
— ود البيه (@khalidalbaih) December 3, 2016
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) December 1, 2016
However, officials have told Doha News that the issue is not one of censorship, but of proper licensing as a media company in Qatar.
We will be speaking more with authorities this week to see what can be done to resolve the issue.