The UAE is clamping down on the grey areas surrounding social media marketing. Earlier this year, the country’s National Media Council revealed plans to regulate social media influencers in the Emirates, and its new measures came into force this week. From June 1, anyone who uses their digital channels to promote or sell products as part of a paid-for partnership must hold a license, with the council just unveiling all the relevant categories under which an influencer can apply.
Those deemed to fall under the new laws must hold both a standard trade license, and a new e-media license, the latter of which costs SAR/AED 15,000. Individuals can apply for a Category 1 license, which covers independent influencers, while Category 2 covers small groups of influencers, who can partner together as a company, Gulf Business reports. Both options cost SAR/AED 15,000 in total, and require a separate trade license. Category 3, however, offer licenses to NMC-approved Official Influencer Agencies, which subsequently covers influencers exclusively registered with that agency.
Those who do not hold the appropriate license now face fines of SAR/AED 5,000, and risk having their social media accounts suspended or shut down. On announcing the new tiers, His Excellency Dr Rashed Khalfan Al Nuaimi, executive director of Support Services at the National Media Council, said: “It is primarily our intention to carefully regulate digital media and ensure that the best standards are provided which adhere to our established criteria.”
Since the new regulations were announced in March, more than 500 licenses have been issued, Al Nuaimi told the Khaleej Times. “Any influencer who wants to be a professional, wants to advertise well and earn a good income, will register with us,” HE added. “Brands are already notifying the influencers that they will not work with them if they don’t have a license.”
The new accreditation was introduced in a bid to regulate the industry in the UAE, much like it is in the UK and US, and to create a more transparent, impartial, and quality-controlled environment. When announcing the regulations earlier this year, NMC director general, Mansour Ibrahim Al Mansouri, stated: “The new regulations are part of the council’s plan to promote and develop an advanced legislative and regulatory environment for the UAE media sector.” Under the regulations, organizations that already have a publishing license will not be affected, nor will individuals who promote companies or brands on a non-paid basis.
“The regulations seek to help the UAE media sector remain on top of the rapid developments in electronic media, in addition to enriching and organizing digital content, and ensuring that media material respects the religious, cultural, and social values of the UAE, all the while promoting freedom of expression and constructive dialogue,” Al Mansouri added.