New regulations may lead to shortage of influencers

Most influencers in the UAE welcome new rules, saying it will give their business legitimacy

Dubai: Hiring registered ‘social media influencers’ may become expensive for companies following new licensing regulations announced by the UAE. These regulations may also lead to a shortage of influencers, experts told Gulf News on Wednesday.

The UAE announced on Tuesday that anyone conducting “commercial activities” through social media is required to register for a government-issued licence. The new rules target “social media influencers,” who parlay their internet fame for advertising products.

The National Media Council announced rules for electronic media, governing online activities including e-commerce, publishing and selling of print, video and audio material as well as advertising. The new guidelines apply to news websites, electronic publishing outlets, and on-demand printing, including commercial activities conducted through social media within the UAE, Mansour Al Mansouri, director-general of the National Media Council, told a news conference.

On social media influencers, officials said the new rules would help ensure “that media material respects the religious, cultural and social values of the UAE” and are regulated. Those affected need to register by the end of June or face a Dh5,000 fine.

Gus Younis, a social media strategist, said this new law will cause many smaller influencers to take a step back from paid promotions.

“This new law will most likely affect the micro-influencers. They are the ones, who use social media as a part-time job or for free invitations. These expats, who already have a job, will most likely not want to deal with the headache of registration or rock the boat by asking their employer for an no-objection certificate and register a new business licence. This, in turn, will lead to a shortage in supply of social media influencers and a surge in the prices for registered influencers.”

Food blogger and Instagram influencer Lavina Israni fully supports the new law. “I heard about the new law, and I do support it, as it really makes us influencers more legitimate and clears the air regarding the legality of what we do. I am going to register. However, there is not much information out there on how we can go ahead and acquire the licence.”

Omar Abu Omar, a digital marketer and micro-influencer in the UAE, believes that the new law helps enhance standards in this “unofficial” industry. “The new law is great, as it provides a formal platform that regulates what influencers and popular content creators do online. Additionally, it provides a legal framework for an ‘unofficial’ industry, which will ultimately enhance standards.”

Other influencers that Gulf News reached out to declined to comment, as they want to see clearer guidelines on the new laws.

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