6 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming A Licensed Influencer in The UAE
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the new National Media Council influencer licensing laws.
From Dubai to Abu Dhabi, plenty of influencers have been asking questions about what it will mean to become a licensed influencer in the UAE.
How will it affect content on social media? Will I need to also obtain a trade license, in addition to the e-media license? Do I have to sign with an influencer agency, in order to continue my busienss as an influencer?
We've broken down the six things all influencers need to know before they obtain the special NMC e-media "influencer" license.
Check them out and let us know your thoughts in the comments below. #getlicensed
Know The Basics Of UAE Media Law
If you are a social media content creator, and planning on pursuing it as a career and profession, then you should get the full low-down on the laws that governs media in the UAE (including social media) and the GCC region.
All Influencers should familiarize themselves with Emirati laws that govern photography, defamation and privacy.
For example, it is illegal to take someone's photo without their consent. For many street style bloggers, that feature other people and their outfits on their platforms, this could potentially be an issue.
Making defamatory statements against another individual, their family and/or their company could put you in some serious hot water with the law. This could potentially include a bad review of a restaurant, so food bloggers need to be mindful of the language they use when reviewing local eateries.
And privacy in the UAE is a big deal. It's illegal to spill someone else's secrets or disclose information without a source's consent.
Don't Forget About Cultural Sensitivities
Content that may be considered acceptable abroad might not be legal here in the UAE, due to the cultural sensitivities of the country.
According to Al Tamimi & Co. UAE Cyber Crimes Law considers any actions that are inconsistent with public morals and good conduct to be an offense.
"This could include content that is un-Islamic, blasphemous, lewd, that encourages sinful activity, or that is aimed at corrupting minors, etc. It can also extend to content that might negatively impact on social cohesion and peace, such as content that that stirs sedition or sectarianism, mocks the leaders of the nation, or that hurts national unity or social peace," Anita Siassios said, in an article on the firm's website.
This means that influencers should avoid posting controversial content about religion, world leaders, politics and "hot topics" on their social channels.
It's also important to note that the advertising of alcohol is prohibited in the UAE. Influencers need to be extra careful if they post sponsored content that includes a glass of "grape" in their hand, as it could appear that they're advertising alcoholic products.
Only Accepting Freebies? A License Isn't Required
New developments in the influencer licensing laws reveal that bloggers who solely receive free gifts, experiences and/or products in exchange for coverage on their social channels will not need to obtain a license or be signed to an influencer agency in order to operate in the UAE.
So, if you're a new influencer that has yet to earn an income from your content, don't stress about obtaining a license or signing with an agency.
There Are Three Different NMC Licensing Options
One thing is for certain: influencers will now need a license in order to legally operate within the UAE. And the NMC is now providing three different licensing options for UAE-based influencers.
So, whether you're earning thousands of dirhams for sponsored posts or are just starting out, there's a licensing option that should work for you.
Here are the different licensing options below.
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.
The second option is a partnership license for small groups of influencers (typically of friends or family). 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 be Dhs15,000.
An influencer can sign up with one of the official influencer agencies, certified by the NMC such as ITP Live.
The agency will hold an aggregated license that will cover all of the influencers on their board. As long as an influencer is exclusively registered with an agency that is certified by the NMC, they will be able to continue operating within the UAE.
Influencers can only be signed up with one agency and all (paid) deals will need to go through the company.
Be Careful Who You Sign With
Most influencers will consider the Category Three option and will look into working with an agency, as it is the most affordable option – especially for micro-influencers who may not be earning a lot of money.
Influencer agencies (like ITP Live) will be responsible for brokering sponsorship deals between brands and influencers.
ITP Live, in particular, will continue to advise their influencers on the types of content deemed appropriate to be published within the UAE.
The ITP Media Group-owned agency will also take an active roll in supporting their influencers with content creation and production, brand management, social media verification, and much more.
Considering ITP Media has over 30 years of experience in the Middle East, creating content for a variety of platforms both regionally and internationally, influencers that choose to work with ITP Live can rest assured they're in good hands.
Ideally, influencers should aim to sign with an agency that can provide them with bespoke support, and values quality influencers (and content) over quantity.
(Psst! ITP Live will also be launching new services for micro-influencers in the region that will allow them to connect with regional and global brands. Watch this space for more information…)
It Will Cost You If You Aren't Licensed
Influencers that fail to comply with the new laws risk having their accounts shut down and a fine of Dhs5,000.
Want to join ITP Live as an influencer? Send an email with your insights, social media handles and short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you an influencer? Which license will you be applying for? Let us know in the comments below.