It’s officially confirmed that Bloggers in UAE will have to secure an E-Media license before 1st June 2018 from the National Media Council for AED 15,000 and in addition, will require a trade license which will cost another AED 15,000 minimum. You need to approximately spend AED 30,000 ($8200).
After I posted a story on my Instagram about UAE Influencers, literally hundreds of messages poured in with love, anger, thoughts, suggestions, and discussions in the Direct Messages.
Why the new license?
The Mission as per National Media Council:
“The regulations seek, first and foremost, to help the UAE media sector remain on top of the rapid developments in electronic media, in addition to enriching and organising 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. The new code of practice provides balanced and responsible media content that respects the privacy of individuals, and protects the public – especially children – from negative or harmful material.”
So far the laws that are crystal clear:
- Bloggers getting PAID need to obtain the two licenses.
- Bloggers that are not paid or Sponsored are free to blog. No license needed!
- Bloggers violating the rules will be fined AED 5000!
Top influencers who are already getting paid for promoting products shouldn’t have a problem acquiring the license and spending $8000. But there are thousands of microbloggers who advertise products or showcases their experience on social media in exchange for gifts, free meals, products have a lot of questions.
The PR firms and marketing departments of restaurants and brands rely on such bloggers who are just happy with the products. It will definitely have a huge impact on their business models too. There have been several warnings and reminders by the NMC to comply before 1st June yet there are a lot of unanswered questions.
- Will the license apply to bloggers that are accepting gifts only?
- Are free meals considered as payments?
- Can bloggers still attend PR events?
- Can we attend movie premieres?
According to some UAE lawyers I’ve interacted with say that, any kind of Sponsorship/Gift is a payment, hence the license is required for all. It is considered as a payment legally. Food bloggers not paying the bill of AED 500 worth the food they consumed is their payment. Beauty bloggers receiving AED 1000’s worth of products is their payment. If you are sponsored in any way and featuring product on social media, you are conducting a commercial activity.
There has been a lot of contradictory news from different local media outlets and their interpretations are not the final word. There is still no clear guidelines from National Media Council and hopefully, they will announce the final verdict soon.
Poll and Opinion
The license is a good move but unreasonably priced for microbloggers. I wouldn’t pay more than AED 3000. For those who can afford to splash AED 30k will make a lot more cash due to the new filter.
As per my vague poll on my Instagram story, 61% bloggers (and non-bloggers) say they will stop accepting gifts or sponsored posts whereas 39% want to continue and risk a fine! So far I don’t know of any Blogger that has acquired a license. All of the #UAEPR is also very cautious as most of them have given a deadline of 31st May to complete the posts or visit them. I guess all of us will have to wait and find out by 1st June or till someone answers the above questions!
In my opinion, the accounts we operate are sponsored and commercial hence subjected to the license. I agree with all the points the lawyers make. Since most of it is legal-talk and can be best translated by them.
If there’s an exemption or a loophole then Taqato.com will continue with the extravagant food and hotel experiences. If not, it will continue on a much less frequency and personal experiences.
Do leave a message if you have an opinion or DM on my Instagram!
Awaiting 1st June.
UPDATE 15th June 2018
Bloggers and influencers who receive free products and/or services, in exchange for coverage on their social channels, won’t need a license under the new NMC regulations.
There are now three categories for the license:
An influencer can apply for an “individual license” if they want to remain an independent influencer. This license will cost Dhs15,000 and will require influencers to also have a separate trade license.
A partnership license for small groups of influencers. This group of influencers can collectively come together and set up a company, before applying for the NMC’s special e-media license.
The company will need to be registered and hold a trade license. The fee will also be Dhs15,000.
An influencer can sign up with one of the official influencer agencies, certified by the NMC. Influencers can only be signed up with one agency and all (paid) deals will need to go through the company.
Good to see that you agree with the principles; it’s perhaps the intention of this move is correct but the execution is less than ideal. My own view? There’s going to be a delay in implementation, especially when they see the lack of take-up. People can’t afford that sum, not least because of the dwindling economy but also because they’ve perhaps not taken full stock of their own niche/business and followed the freebie crowd.
There are people out there who are faking their content and output to chase the influencer rewards.
There are also artists, who are genuinely trying to build a niche and authority, albeit with small numbers. (NOT Microbloggers).
There are hobbyists who are somewhere between, as it’s an interesting way to spend time.
IF all this move does is to create a situation which brings reflection and clarity to segregate the above, it’s a great move. Disclosure is a criteria long overdue on the Dubai blogosphere, closely followed by integrity.
It’s not just bloggers or creators that need a reset, it’s the whole industry. PRs who take money yet pay none for content/work. Hoteliers who won’t spend money marketing and try an ‘influencer’ only for it not to provide ROI.
Bear in mind, the core concept here is that this is a commercial activity people are engaging in, and it should be treat at every level so – including individuals setting themselves in business with the required funding and tools. Okay, the amount may be excessive but perhaps the first cut is indeed the deepest.
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Thanks for the thoughtful comment and great insight. I do agree that disclosure is long overdue! I just think it might be the whole reason for the license as no one in this part of the region discloses the sponsored posts. The resetting is much needed and I don’t understand how some bloggers still think it’s a personal activity and not commercial.
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I think the disclosure is a distant second in their eyes. Revenue is primary, front and centre.
Frankly, I don’t believe the amounts of money that are attributed to so-called influencers in Dubai is anything like accurate. Many of the so called biggies are just as adept at freebie chasing they build their online life around it, rather than their brand or business. Perhaps a better solution is to think carefully across the entire sector – including PR and brands – about workflows that delineate what is actually happening.
For example, an influencer who is being used for reach in return for consideration usually have very little actual revenue from that activity. For me, this is more an issue of disclosure in this case, rather than revenue. However, someone that is being paid to ‘influence’ by way of advertising, often at the risk of integrity or any sort of validation, should be taxed on revenue to some degree and also held up to accountability.
In a similar way, low level ‘hobbyist’ bloggers – that you and I know are anything but, because it covers the vast amount of their free time – should be subject to disclosure. Education to an audience helps a lot in this case.
In essence, there needs to be mechanisms to bring integrity back to whole landscape. Simply charging people will drive people who can’t afford into even more shaky ground I fear. Someone for example who posts utter claptrap in the hope of someone else paying for their licence won’t be far off, right?
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