The guidelines cover all paid adverts and aims to end ads promoting alcohol, tobacco or anything offensive to ‘public morality'
30 October 2018| Last updated on 13 November 2018
Advertisers in the UAE have received updated guidelines from the UAE regarding social media and paid ads.
And if you work in marketing, with social media or you’re an influencer… This is important to know.
Shared by the UAE’s National Media Council (NMC), these new guidelines are set to enforce stricter standards, which cover all forms of advertising in the country. And for the first time ever, the guidelines also include paid-for content on social media, alongside conventional print and digital advertising.
The new regulations from NMC includes banning the use of terms like ‘hops’ and ‘grapes’ in promotional content – bringing an end to any form of brunch advertisements, happy hours or events.
In fact, advertising for alcohol, narcotics and tobacco in all its forms is prohibited, and prior approval is required for adverts that relate to education, health and real estate.
Any form of direct or indirect advertising that uses words or images that could offend public morality is also strictly banned.
Historically, only traditional advertising platforms like television, radio and print were subject to guidelines from the NMC, which were last released in 2011.
The comprehensive set of 19 content standards and guidelines
Advertisers are urged to:
- Refrain from offending God and Islamic beliefs, and show respect for other heavenly religions
- Show respect for the UAE Government and its emblems and political institutions
- Show respect for the cultural heritage of the States
- Avoid harming national unity and social cohesion, and provoking sectarian, doctrinal and trial strife
- Show respect for the UAE’s systems and policies at the internal level and its relations with other countries
- Refrain from harming the economic system in the UAE and spreading rumours and misleading news
- Show respect for the UAE’s policies to promote its national identity
- Avoid disseminating information that harms or abuses children and women, or any other social groups, or incites hatred and violence
- Avoid publishing images of words that could violate public morality
- Any advertising for witchcraft, sorcery or astrology shall not be allowed
- Respect intellectual property rights
- Comply with codes of conduct and standards of honesty including compliance with the rules governing business, especially in regards to consumer protection and fair competition controls, prohibition of commercial fraud and illegal monopoly
- Advertising for alcoholic beverages or narcotics is not permitted in any form, whether directly or indirectly
- Tobacco advertising, smoking of all kinds and methods of using them, or any other services or products that are prohibited from advertising, shall not be permitted
- Comply with the rules of health advertisements contained in Cabinet Resolution No. 4 of 2007 and its amendments on health advertisements
- Avoid publishing advertisements that contain false, malicious and misleading information
- Respect the national identity of the UAE
- Observe the conditions and terms concerning the use of the flag, emblem and national anthem of the UAE
- Obtain the prior approval of the concerned authorities for advertisements requiring prior approvals, such as those related to health, education, real estate, Hajj and Umrah campaigns and others
The penalties for ignoring the above regulations
Despite being guidelines, as opposed to law, these infringements are in fact subject to an initial fine of 5,000 Dhs. If not paid within 5 days, a fine of 100 Dhs a day will be imposed up to a maximum additional charge of 5,000 Dhs.
If the same offence is repeated within a year, the fine will be doubled and capped at 20,000 Dhs.
The NMC stressed that the rules cover advertisements in social media, that all promotions - including those on websites or bogs - must be clearly defined and appear 'distinctive and independent' from editorial and informative material.
“It should be clearly disclosed whether the advert is a paid-for promotion,” a statement said.
Activities on social media that are exempted from licences include charitable and volunteer activities and free-of-charge advertising conducted on a non-commercial basis.
The NMC also urged influencers and others carrying out advertising activities on a commercial basis to obtain a prior licence from the council.