Does A Social Media Influencer Need A Media License In The UAE?

Social media influencing is a booming business. Stars such as Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Huda Kattan are paid a small fortune to promote brands to their millions of Instagram followers.

In the UAE, the business is also thriving. This is why UAE’s National Media Council released electronic media regulations in March 2018 announcing that if you want to engage in any promotional, advertising or marketing activity on social media or anywhere online, you need to apply for and receive an e-media license. 

Another new rule announced in May 2018 clarifying the new regulations is that in order to apply for an e-media license, you need a trade license so its two licenses that you actually need to apply for and get.

Main aspects of e-media license:

The law came into effect on June 1, 2018. It is going to cost 15,000 dirhams. It is going to last for one year. So every year you are going to have to renew this license. All influencers were supposed to get their media license by the first of June or their accounts can be closed by the authorities.

The most important thing is that once you have applied for it and got it means that you are now bound by all media laws that dictate magazines and any other media communication channel in the UAE.

Main aspects of trade license:

The trade license would be same like any other trade license what more important is if you apply for trade license in order to apply for e media license, that trade license really needs to cover the kind of activities in which you will be engaging on your e media license. So if you are a social media influencer looking to promote goods and services on your Instagram channel or your Twitter feed or Facebook page, your trade license needs to cover those activities.

So bear in mind that it can’t be any other license e.g. If you are a barber or you have got a salon or any kind of shop, you can’t just use that trade license to get e-media license.

Cost of trade license?

It depends on where you get from. Every mainland and every free zone authority that you can apply to is going to quote you a different cost for a trade license and there’s going to be different criteria that you’ll have to apply for. The cheapest one right now Is Fujairah creative city free zone ; AED 14k and again that is every year. So we are looking at 30,000AED (80,000$) per year to get the whole thing and to get you set up.

Why social media influencers should have a license?

This is all part of the government seeking to professionalize the economy and bring everybody into the system. It’s like standardizing the way people are operating in this country.

The new rules: Who needs one and who doesn’t?

It is not based on following whether you have 20 followers or 2 million followers. If you are receiving money to promote something on an electronic media so it’s the transaction that the key here, you can only receive that money if you have got a license.

Regulations for social media influencers

1. Unbiased: clearly identify ad content

The UAE National Media Council has asked influencers to clearly identify which posts are paid or non-paid. So what lots of influencers are doing is that they tend to bury the hashtag ad or hashtag paid ads amongst a million other hashtags. So media council has asked to clearly identify that and refrain from misleading their followers into thinking that you love this product when actually you might have been paid to advertise it and you might not have actually tried and used it.

2. Policy: preserving the UAE’s systems and global image

The UAE wants to show media influencers that this is an industry like any other industry and they can’t simply get away with anything if they please. Because this has to do with not only the policy but UAE’s global image so if UAE’s social media market is not properly regulated then it reflects badly on them. This also includes ban on advertising tobacco on social media and first-time violators will be fined 5000 dirhams and if you repeat the violation you will be fined 10,000 AED. So it’s reinstating the fact that you have to abide by all the regulations.

3. Protect consumer protection against endorsed products and services.

Dubai consumer protection recently has warned local residents against ads by social media influencers. They said that they should not restrict their choices to products endorsed by these social media influencers. Some of them are paid to advertise convincingly to you, so ask more before you make a purchase

Types of media licenses as a social media influencer:

There are three types of licenses: individual for the solo influencer. It costs 15,000 dirhams. Next is a partnership license for smaller groups e.g. family or friends decided to create a company and act as influencers. This license also costs 15,000 dirhams. The third license is for official influencer agencies. Only the company certified by the National Media Council can act as a management company for influencers. Those agencies have a license that covers all influencers who work with them exclusively. Those influencers are usually small influencers who can’t afford to buy a new license so those influencers can sign an exclusive agreement with that agency and continue promoting brands and products.

About 600 businesses have been registered in the UAE in 2018. But many more unlicensed influencers offer to promote brands in exchange for free hotel stays, meals and drinks instead of cash. And they are driving companies mad. Businesses have been urged to carefully vet influencers who approach them, to make sure they are not chancers getting something for nothing.

How to get an e-media license?

To apply for an e-media license in Dubai, you need to fulfill certain conditions. Check out the complete list on NMC website but the main conditions are,

  • Be a UAE citizen or one of the GCC nations.
  • Age 25 or above
  • Be of good reputation

You can apply for the license directly on the NMC website. Make sure you have required documentation i.e.

  • Emirates ID
  • UAE Residence Visa
  • Trade License

For professional assistance on obtaining media license in UAE, visa and UAE trade License, contact our business setup consultants at Business Consultants Dubai. We assist our clients in their business setup in Dubai. Visit our website or send us your query at

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