Emirati-based empress café operator Empress Cafe Oman (CBOE) has come under fire for allegedly charging for the use of a video app that could be used to facilitate prostitution.
According to an article on The Huffington, which has a history of covering social issues in the Middle East, the restaurant’s manager, Abdurahman al-Bashir, claimed that they have a “special agreement” with the restaurant chain, but that “they are not aware of the use that they are using the app for.”
The article also alleges that they did not notify the owner, Abdulhady al-Tahiri, of the alleged transaction and the allegations have led to the restaurant being fined by the UAE government for violating the penal code.
COO of the restaurant, Abu Saeed Al-Shami, defended the charges by saying that the company “does not use the app to engage in prostitution.”
He added that the restaurant does not advertise prostitution, but rather provides “food for the customers to enjoy” and that it does not allow the use or possession of video chat apps.
The Huffington article is a rare instance in which a media outlet has gone to the trouble to investigate an alleged issue of social injustice in the Arab world.
The article goes on to allege that the allegations are untrue and that the business was never charged with anything and that Bashir was merely following “customer requests.”
Bashir said that the app “has no commercial purpose whatsoever,” adding that “there is nothing that will be sold or offered for sale on the app.”
The Huffington also points out that the “app has been tested on multiple apps and even on websites of the major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.”
According to the article, COO Al-Sami stated that they “would never ask for money for the app, we do not need it and never will.”
The restaurant has not yet responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.