UAE: Social Media Influencers Seek More Clarity On New Licensing Rules

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Sat 22 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 22 Jun 2024, 9:41 AM

UAE content creators are looking forward to a more defined relationship between influencers and advertisers with the move by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) requiring both to obtain a licence before engaging in advertising services.

Starting July 1, social media influencers and establishments without a licence will be penalised for up to Dh10,000 and continued violation may even lead to the closure of the companies.

“What this will create is better terms of interaction between influencers and the advertisers as licensing will ensure the rights of both parties are regulated and protected,” noted Emirati food blogger Ahmed Alhammadi, who has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram.

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“The law is clear and the concerned authorities should be thanked for the positive impact. I'm sure this will be reflected on social media posts,” he added.

Ahmed Alhammadi. Photo: Supplied

The licences can be obtained through the Tamm platform on ADDED website. Foreigners from outside the UAE can also obtain a licence provided they have an Emirates ID card or unified number.

'Content creation is serious job'

Coral Stevens, founder of dxb_hun, also believes licensing for social media influencers and companies is a good move“as it means content creation is now taken more seriously as a job".

“The licensing will protect us too,” added the British influencer with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.

Stevens, however, said she needs further clarity about the new regulation. She told Khaleej Times:“I have people asking me about different prices and situations. For example, it was quite simple for me as I set myself up as a company. Some people, however, that already have a visa and job, I've heard it's been very difficult to obtain the bloggers licence. One apprehension too may be the cost. For example, it cost me Dh18,000 a year to renew my company licence – this is quite a hefty amount.”

Coral Stevens. Supplied photo.

In 2018, the UAE National Media Council (UAE) issued rules stating that social media influencers who make money from promoting brands and businesses will need to secure a media licence.

"Social media influencers who promote brands, businesses and products for money will need to get a licence from the National Media Council (NMC). However, normal media influencers who just share everyday stuff with their followers don't need a licence. They can recommend restaurants or shops as long as they are not paid," an NMC official previously told Khaleej Times.

More clarification needed

Aside from the fundamental question if the rule will only apply to creators and companies who create content in Abu Dhabi, influencers seek more clarification.

Syrian-Canadian influencer Lana Kaati said:“I want to know about the costs and the ramifications of the licence. For example, I know that some freelancer permits in Abu Dhabi stipulates that after a year of working, the individual must convert their residency visa to Abu Dhabi if they want to renew it. I would be curious to know if there are such regulations on the freelancer permits.”

Lana Kaati. Photo: Supplied

Kaati also asked about the regulations on barter deals.“A lot of hobby influencers do promotions based on barters or gifts that they get. There has to be some clarity on whether a licence is required for such kind of influencer campaign,” she added.

In general, Kaati is optimistic the new rule will signify a turn in the influencer market. She said:“This will encourage many influencers to make a decision whether being an influencer is a hobby or a career path. It will push the industry to be more regulated and will make it a level playing field for everyone.”

“Everyone who takes content creation seriously, invests money or time or both on research, videography, editing and a lot of other things that go on behind making a video. The licence is one way to make sure that the investment will give them returns. Agencies and brands will now look at working with licensed content creators and this will add more value to the industry as a whole,” she underscored.

British food blogger Alex Augusti (@justfooddxb on Instagram) added:“Working with micro influencers is a huge untapped opportunity for businesses to work with. They have great engagement and can help convert potential customers.”

But he is wary if licensing will help improve the quality and authenticity of content being generated.“We should be nurturing new talent, not putting more roadblocks in place,” he said.

New rules to bring transparency

Dubai-based fitness influencer Tania Lolla believes the new regulations will bring transparency to the world of social media influencers in the region.“They are much needed because they set positive standards,” she noted.

Tania Lolla: Supplied

The Serbian expat also does not believe the licensing fee is a financial burden. She noted:“It could discourage some people from pursuing a career as an influencer due to the financial and administrative burden. However, if you mean business, you have to be ready to invest. Running a business on social media is demanding as it involves creating products or services, marketing, branding, financial management, and customer engagement. If you want be a brand that makes money, you have to be willing to pay for branding.”

Natural evolution

Uma Bhattathirippad, managing director of Xite Live marketing agency, believes the licensing regulation is a natural evolution of the burgeoning influencer media market.

“This (licensing) creates an opportunity for influencers who can now start charging for the kind of work they are giving, she noted, adding:“Influencer marketing has now become a legit profession.”

Rohit Bharti. Photo: Supplied

Rohit Bharti, founder of Tidding, who has more than 245,000 followers on social media, also believes“a license will help the creator become more legitimate and thus easier for brands or agencies to approach them.”

He added:“I feel most creators will swiftly comply once they get clarity on the rules. It is quite practical to become a full-time creator once you get the hang of it as a business.”


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