Why You Might Want to Rethink Becoming an Influencer

A new UAE law is about to change the game

The criteria that defines what an influencer is vaguely defined. We know who they are; they flood our timelines with perfectly curated photos and often include a brand-sponsored element or two.


Although most of us have always been able to tell, it wasn’t always crystal clear—but now, thanks to Instagram’s latest ‘paid sponsor feature’, we finally have transparency, allowing us to easily filter our favourite influencer’s ads from personal, more authentic posts.


But this only makes it easier for a consumer to tell the difference. Influencers have made entire careers off of their social media accounts—many of who have garnered enough followers to charge thousands of dirhams for a single post. But just like any other job – that income has to be declared.


A few months ago, the UAE government caught on and announced new measures to regulate influencers in a way that hasn’t been seen before. By the end of this month, all influencers are required to hold not one, but two licenses to carry out their business. Those who don’t will face a fine of up 5000 AED, and risk their accounts being closed down.


But despite what you might think, the new laws do little to actually define what an influencer is—but by setting this new standard they do take us a step closer. The laws explicitly define all influencers operating as business people, ultimately requiring them to hold a commercial trade license (the same standard permit required by all those involved the export, import, or trade of any kind of goods). They then also have to sign up for an ‘e-media license’.


Early last week, the UAE’s National Media Council broke down the laws further by announcing a three-category system that falls under the e-media license. And in case you’re a bit confused on what this all means, we’re here to give you some clarity.


There are three types of licenses: Individual License, a Partnership license, or a contract with an NMC-official ‘Influencer Agency’.  


An individual license will set you back 15,000 AED, and will require a trade license as well.


A Partnership License is essentially a group license where friends or family can sign up together to work under the same ‘company’. The cost of this license is also 15,000 AED.


Those who sign up with an ‘Influencer Agency’ do not have to pay any kind of licensing fee. However, they would be limited to working with agency clients only.

Photo courtesy of @raniafawazz 

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