After introducing new laws for regulating the influencer industry last year, the United Arab Emirates is still working on ensuring that influencers in the region adhere to the requirements under the new media rules.
Last year in March, the National Media Council (NMC) made it mandatory for all social media influencers to acquire a trade licence from an economic zone in any one of the seven emirates, along with an e-media licence from the NMC, which costs Dh15,000 annually and allows individuals to post sponsored social media content promoting brands.
Despite the fact that it has been over a year since the new laws were announced, the NMC is still having to warn unlicensed social media influencers who are being paid to promote products/services (the high price of obtaining the required licenses – a total of Dh 30,000 – has been a frequent complaint of influencers in the UAE).
Speaking to the Khaleej Times, a top NMC official confirmed that the council has a team which works to monitor any illegal activity on social media and other platforms, and is also starting to fine unlicensed influencers.
“Paid influencers operating without a license invite a fine of Dh5,000,” said Nasser Al Tamimi, manager of the NMC’s Media Licensing Department, on the sidelines of a press conference organized by the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone. “We are discovering new numbers (of paid influencers operating without a licence) every day. When we encounter any illegal activity, we call and warn them and if it is repeated, we will fine them.”
Meanwhile, the NMC has also been urging businesses to work only with licensed influencers.
While the council is still working on ensuring complete adoption of the regulations, the NMC did add that the number of licensed influencers in the UAE is also gradually on the rise. There has been a 177% increase in the number of media licences and freelancer permits that have been issued in a year (the number went from 130 to 360, all within a year).
Ibrahim Khadim, the NMC’s director of media content, stated at a recent conference earlier this week that more than 3,000 social media influencers have been granted licences since the implementation of the new regulations.
The new laws have largely been welcomed by businesses. The hospitality industry in the UAE, for example, has praised the new influencer licensing laws for helping raise standards, improve quality, and increase professionalism among influencers.
“The more organisation and accountability there is, the better,” said Caroline Rowe, director of brand marketing at The First Group in Dubai. “It makes it easier for hotels to recognise the right people to work with.”