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Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: In an open letter to government officials and residents, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, addressed the dangers of misusing social media.

As part of a six-point message titled “The Letter of the New Season” that was released on his official Twitter account, Sheikh Mohammed warned residents against spreading misinformation with the sole intention of gaining followers online.

"Messing around and stirring up chaos on social media waste achievements for which thousands of teams worked so hard to realize. The reputation of the UAE is a red line and not to be used by anyone who wants to get more followers.

"We have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which is concerned with managing our external affairs, speaking on our behalf and expressing our positions in relation to the UAE’s foreign policy.

"Amongst its core functions is also to maintain the country’s credibility with the countries and peoples of the world and its reputation built over the past 48 years."

"We will not allow a group of Twitter users to mess with Zayed's legacy of credibility, love and respect for people. The good image of the UAE and the Emirati must remain as bright as Zayed wanted and built.”

On Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, affirmed that all tweets and online comments posted by UAE citizens and residents play a role that ultimately reflects the country’s mission and reputation.

“Tweeting for the sake of the country can help the country and is not a disadvantage. [But] do not destroy what has been built. Tweeting about the country is a noble mission and should be done with high morals and responsibility, which should be complemented with the sensibility that reflects our culture and civilization. And should also have logic that addresses minds and heartens the spirit. Thank you Mohammed Bin Rashid.”

Addressing the issue of the misuse of social media in the UAE, prominent Emirati writer and journalist Abdullah Rasheed pointed out that although one cannot control the words published online, it is vital for social media influencers and public figures to have a sense of responsibility before posting unethical comments or images.

“Its impossible to control social media but we each have the responsibility to monitor ourselves and control what we choose to write on a public forum. Social media influencers have the responsibility in representing society’s values and by posting irresponsible and inaccurate information, they do not only hurt themselves but their freedoms, our society and our values.”

Emirati businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor commented that Sheikh Mohammed has once again proven to be a great leader with his important messages that ranges from social media and the economy to the positive outlook of the future and the adoption of advanced technology.

“We salute Your Highness on the message. Sheikh Mohammed proved to be a great leader, who pays attention to his country’s and his people’s interests. Sheikh Mohammed never hesitates to criticise government departments and entities, and always seeks to improve the level of the country’s performance to better serve the nation and its people.”

In his open letter, Sheikh Mohammed also urged public officials not to remain hidden behind desks and in lecture halls and emphasised on the need for heads of government departments to interact with citizens out on the field.

Officials should be out on the field

"The right place for officials, ministers and leaders is the field. We need to see them amongst students and teachers; in the markets among traders and investors. "We want to hear they are among farmers and at the ports of fishermen, with widows and mothers, senior citizens and with patients, in hospitals and among doctors and staff,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

"We want to see them there and hear them from there, not in conference rooms or forums that have increased and consumed resources and energies. We are a government of achievements, not a government of lectures. We are a team of accomplishers not a team of preachers.”

In reaction to Sheikh Mohammed’s point, Al Habtoor commented that such an approach is the correct path to take as it will undoubtedly lead the country to step in the right direction.

“In his letter, sheikh Mohammed addressed government officials, ministers and heads of government departments to vigorously engage with citizens and to learn about the real concerns on the ground, and not from behind their desks. This is the approach that was adopted by the late Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed, and was the secret behind the UAE’s success,” said Al Habtoor.