Advertising Laws in UAE

Legal Framework of Advertising in UAE.Advertising laws in the UAE are many.  There are federal laws and there are those which apply in individual Emirates.

  1. Federal Law No. 15 of 1980 on Publications and Publishing
  2. Fujairah Law No. 1 of 1994 concerning Promotional Campaigns for Commercial Advertising Purposes in the Emirate of Fujairah
  3. Dubai Local Order No. 11/2003, on Public Health and Safety of the Community in the Emirates of Dubai
  4. Cabinet Decision No. 7 of 2007 on the Health Advertisements Regulations
  5. Ras Al Khaimah Law No. 11 of 2008 on the Control of Advertising
  6. Administrative Decision No. 35 of 2012 on the Standards of Advertisements Content in the Media
  7. Ras Al Khaimah Law No. 5 of 2016 concerning Promotional Campaigns and Special Offers for Commercial Advertising Purposes
  8. Sharjah Executive Council Decision No. 30 of 2019 on the Regulation of Outdoor Advertising in the Emirate of Sharjah
  9. Abu Dhabi Decision No. 37 of 2019 on the Regulation of Health Information and Advertising
  10. UAE Media Content Standards Decision No. 20 of 2019,
  11. Abu Dhabi Decision No. 144 of 2020 on the Regulation of Granting Advertisements and Promotions Permits
  12. Dubai Decree No. 6 of 2020 on the Regulation of Advertising in the Emirate of Dubai
  13. Cybercrime Law No. 34 of 2021
  14. UAE Crime and Punishment Law

Advertising Standards (2020)– to consolidate various principles governing content in relation to advertisement in the UAE, reinforcing a number of fundamental edicts.

  1. religious, cultural and social values in the UAE;
  2. strengthen the freedom of expression of the media;
  3. establish the advertisement sector as one which contributes to the advancement of economic development in the UAE; and
  4. ensure that all advertisement content is:
    1. impartial;
    2. truthful;
    3. respects the privacy of individuals; and 
    4. protects society from harmful influences.
  5. Advertisement Standards set out principles to all: 1) digital and 2) traditional advertisement, broadcast or publishes, through any media corporation and outlet.  Could also be applied more broadly, to include advertisement issued by shops.  

Summary of main Advertising Standards:

  1. Respect for religion and political institutions
  2. Prohibited products/services: explicitly prohibit advertising alcoholic beverages, tobacco, smoking and all banned products or services, including banned narcotics.
  3. Prohibited content:
    1. words and pictures that breach public morals;
    2. prejudice children, women or any other members of society;
    3. provocation of violence, hatred and sectarianism via advertising content.
  4. Privacy:
  5. Misleading news and rumors
  6. Consumer Protection
  7. Health regulations: medicines or pharmaceutical products

Arabic Language. Now required to be in standard Arabic.

Additional Requirements. 

  1. Must be clear and not contain incorrect information. 
  2. No confusion.  Or misleading
  3. No unlawful use of trademarks in advertisements. 
  4. Broadcast or publication of specialized advertisements, i.e. advertisements about medicines or pharmaceutical products, food products and promotions require special permission of the relevant authority prior to issuance. Similarly, advertisements relating to properties, universities and kindergartens must be approved by the relevant authority.

Advertising Media –  traditional (broadcast and publications) and digital

  1. Physical advertising, e.g. billboards
  2. Digital/online advertising
  3. Media – newspapers, magazines, periodicals, websites, radio, television and movie theaters 
  4. Social media

Specific Industries. Certain industries are subject to specific and more stringent regulations, in the interest of public safety.

  1. Health/medicine
  2. Education
  3. Food
  4. Medicine
  5. Food
  6. Universities
  7. Real estate
  8. Special offers
  9. Promotional campaigns; and
  10. drugs

Special categories

  1. Alcohol
  2. Promotional campaigns

Permits – for advertising within individual Emirates, requires permits

Restricted areas, requiring special permits

  1. Houses of worships, tombs,
  2. Traffic signs and boards
  3. Government headquarters
  4. Trees
  5. Military areas
  6. Facades of residential buildings
  7. Parties subject to advertising rules:
  8. Businesses and sellers of product and services (producer)
  9. Advertising/marketing companies
  10. Media

Governing Authorities

  1. Media Regulatory Office (MRO) at the Ministry of Culture and Youth (previously National Media Council) – issuing licenses for media activities, such as “representative office for a print,” “radio or TV broadcasting,” and other “media license for services of a commercial nature.” 
  2. FNC
  3. RTA
  4. DED
  5. Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
  6. Dubai Municipality
  7. Maritime City Authority

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