Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Illegal Photography

Apparently, I have been taking pictures at a few sights in Abu Dhabi where photography is restricted.  There has just been a recent ruling against two men for taking pictures of the Yas Marina F1 racetrack.  (two-fined-for-taking-yas-marina-racetrack-photos)  I have taken pictures of this racetrack several times from nearby and further out, and during daytime and nighttime.  Most of my pictures of the racetrack have been from the Yas Hotel, where the track curves around this location.  One of the main selling point of the hotel is the views it provides to its guests of the racetrack.  There are also many other locations where you can view the racetrack:  the marina, other nearby hotels, and an amusement park.  There is a year end official Formula 1 race held at this racetrack, hosting thousands of fans and visitors during a weeklong event.  So there have been plenty of photos taken by many.

At the areas I have taken my photos, I have not seen any signs warning me of photography restrictions.  The prosecutors of the above case insist there are signs posted.  According to the ruling, the onus is on the photographer to establish whether it is legal to take photos.  There have been other similar recent rulings concerning other areas.  The "leaning tower" of Abu Dhabi is located at an area where several foreign embassies are located.  Also in the linked article is a reference to someone who took a picture of the building and accidentally included part of nearby embassy.  The photographer was arrested; three months later he was acquitted of any crime.  Another person was arrested for taking pictures of the Presidential Palace.

The F1 racetrack and other attractions nearby (such Yas Hotel and Ferrari World Amusement Park) are showpieces of Abu Dhabi's development and are showcased to tourists.  This is also the case for the leaning tower.  The Presidential Palace is near a magnificent hotel that is a landmark of Abu Dhabi. So it is visible from a public location.   I am surprised and appalled that photography is prohibited at this places.  It is ridiculous that photography is restricted for innocuous reasons at these tourist spots.

I have been very careful where and what pictures to take while in the UAE.  Before arriving to the UAE, I have read about photography restrictions in areas such as military facilities, and respecting the privacy of locals by not taking pictures of them without their consent.  These are fairly obvious. It's just as well that I am leaving the UAE soon because if I stay any longer, I may get arrested for taking photos of areas that are not readily known that photography is illegal.

No comments:

Post a Comment