Paid social media influencers in UAE need media licence


Abu Dhabi - Normal media influencers who just share everyday stuff with their followers don't need a licence.

By Ismail Sebugwaawo and Kelly Clarke

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Wed 7 Mar 2018, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 10:37 AM

The world of social media influencing is about to get a lot more transparent, as paid influencers will need to obtain a licence to promote brands for money.

"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 etc as long as they are not paid," an NMC official told Khaleej Times.

Following a meeting in the Capital on Tuesday, the NMC issued a set of regulations for electronic media. It also means that brands promoting their own products on social media won't need an NMC licence.

Read more: NMC licence now mandatory for online media firms in UAE

"Any firm or person, who uses social media to sell, trade or promote brands for money will have to get a licence from NMC," Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, the NMC's Executive Director of Media Affairs, told Khaleej Times. "Those using online platforms to promote businesses or related activities for cash will have to get a media licence," he added.

Khaleej Times spoke to a few social media influencers based in the UAE, most of whom have welcomed the move.

For Peyman Parham, a YouTuber with 40,000 followers, the announcement was a 'positive step'. "Regulation is a good thing. This call by the NMC means there will now be a system in place which will help influencers streamline their relationship with brands." On a global scale, he said there is a reason why there are "contracts, rules and regulations and terms and conditions" in business. "It sets a standard for two people working together. It's a good step and we have been working for a long time without it, so I welcome the move with open arms."

But Instagram photographer Debbie Fortes is still coming to grips with the decision. "I think this call has been made because some people take advantage of brands and abuse their 'influencer' status. On a positive note, a licence may help curb that, but I feel like the small minority who take advantage of their follower numbers are ruining it for the majority that are going about it the right way."

Admitting that she was "shocked" when she heard the news, Fortes - who has over 53,000 followers online - said she is unsure as to whether she would continue being an influencer. "I get that you need to be licensed, but not all brand collaborations we do are paid. Sometimes we may receive a dinner, but no monetary payment. Because of that, I feel it is going to be a tough decision for some people who want to be legitimate influencers."

Information regarding how much the licence will cost is still unknown, but Injeel Moti, a communications consultant and beauty influencer with more than 11,500 followers online, said she is all for the move - no matter what the cost. "I am very much in support of the new regulations and, in fact, have had numerous discussions with colleagues in the media ind-ustry over the past year on having similar practices introduced in the market.

"It is only fair for anyone monetising off a medium to have a legal licence. The new regulation by the NMC will bring forth a lot of transparency when dealing with influencers regardless of which side of the table you are on. I look forward to having my licence set up this year."

More news from UAE