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Image Credit: WAM

Social media influencers may need to cough up fines from Dh3,000 to Dh10,000 for unlicensed influencer collaborations, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) announced on Thursday.

ADDED issued a circular on June 20 urging all licensed economic establishments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to adhere strictly to established controls and conditions when engaging with social media influencers for advertising.

The circular detailed several key compliance requirements, including that social media influencers must obtain a license from ADDED to offer advertising services through websites and that economic establishments need to secure a permit from ADDED for any form of advertising, including promotional and marketing activities.

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The circular also explained that establishments must ensure they possess a valid license issued by ADDED when contracting with influencers and social networking sites.

Non-compliance with these stipulations will result in substantial penalties, ranging from Dh3,000 to Dh10,000, as outlined in ADDED’s table of violations.

Moreover, state news agency WAM has reported that failure to comply may lead to the closure of the offending establishment.

The UAE’s National Media Council (NMC) introduced mandatory licenses for social media influencers back in 2018. According to a list of fees governing electronic media, influencers were told to pay Dh15,000 a year to secure a license to promote or advertise on social media platforms. This includes Facebook, Instagram, or any other online platform.

Social media influencers who earn an income from promoting brands and businesses must have an e-license under UAE law. Applicants must be 21 years or older and hold a Bachelor’s degree.

The UAE, predominantly Dubai's cosmopolitan allure, strategic global location, and flexible visa options, stands out as a prime market for global influencers. Earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, announced a fund of Dh150 million to support content creators and influencers.

Sheikh Mohammed also said a permanent headquarters for influencers would be created.

“Today we issued directives to allocate a fund valued at Dh150 million to support content creators and transform the digital media sector,” Sheikh Mohammed said, according to Wam. “We also instructed the establishment of a permanent influencers’ headquarters that provides year-round support,” he said following the 1 Billion Followers Summit, which took place in January of this year. The fund also aims to attract investment in new media. The