Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have warned the public that “criminal groups propagating radical ideologies” could spread violent ideas and rebellious behaviour among young people through video gaming. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) issued the warning in a statement carried by the state news agency WAM late on Saturday. It urged parents to prevent teenagers from establishing relations with strangers through chat channels in games.
Criminal groups “are trying to recruit young people and adolescents through some electronic games”, WAM quoted Mohammed al-Zarooni, the TRA’s director for policy and programmes, as saying. He said the groups identified weaknesses in their targets through conversations and then exploited them by directing them to commit crimes. In particular, some criminals used war games to encourage the use of weapons.
The TRA did not identify the criminal groups or elaborate on their intentions, and violent crime in the UAE is rare. But in 2013 the UAE jailed dozens of local citizens for plotting to overthrow the government, and it has launched a series of trials against suspected sympathisers of the Muslim Brotherhood.