Abu Dhabi clamps down on unlicensed influencer collaborations

The new rules come into effect on July 1 and affect both influencers and the companies they work with

Abu Dhabi is cracking down on unlicensed social media influencers and collaborations.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) said influencers and “those engaged in advertising and providing advertising services without a licence will be penalised”.

This means businesses working with influencers must also secure a permit from ADDED for any advertising or promotional marketing.

The penalties range from AED 3,000 to AED 10,000 and may even lead to the closure of the company.

Licences can be obtained through the Tamm platform – the fee for individuals is AED1,250 and for companies it is AED5,000.

The rules  also apply to government companies involved in advertising services via electronic platforms.

To clarify, ADDED confirmed that influencers have to obtain a licence despite having permits from the National Media Council.

Previously all licensed businesses in Abu Dhabi were directed to follow guidelines related to partnerships with social media influencers.

Natasha Hatherall, CEO and founder of TishTash marketing and PR agency, said: “I believe it will only apply to those charging for collaborations and does not apply to those receiving gifting / experiences in charge for coverage on social media. Once again, this is the same as before.

“I am very much in favour of anything that helps drive standards and compliance in our industry and welcome greater regulation as a whole. ”

Panic among influencers

Anishkaa Gehani, founder of Yardstick Marketing Management, added: “I believe many people have misunderstood the guidelines, leading to unnecessary panic among influencers.

“The Abu Dhabi authority is merely reinforcing existing compliance requirements and clearly extending them to influencers.

She added that it’s important to note that this only applies to influencers working with establishments based in Abu Dhabi who enter into monetary agreements.

“Therefore, there’s no need for alarm; there is ample opportunity for all types of influencers to thrive across the UAE.”