United Arab Emirates: Advertising In The UAE: The Legal Framework And Key Issues

Last Updated: 25 June 2015
Article by Ahlam Al Tamimi

Advertisements are basically a process to call for public attention for a product or service.

It is the advertiser's duty to make the advertisement convincing and appealing to consumers. However, advertisers also need to be aware of the legal issues associated with advertising and marketing in the region, It is wise to always consult a lawyer before you proceed with development of the advertising content to ensure that you and your brand are on the right path.

Generally, advertisements must comply with the relevant advertising standards and consumer protection legislation in each jurisdiction in which they are published.

The United Arab Emirates has its own rules and regulations specific to advertisements.  Advertisements are not regulated by a single regulation; they are regulated by numerous laws such as the Printing and Publication law, National Media council regulations and Cybercrime law and laws governing consumer protection and commercial activities particularly in relation to anti-competitive practices and illegal monopolies.

Additionally, in this region, advertisements should be sensitive to the cultural expectations and tolerances of the target audience in addition to the legal framework governing the dissemination of advertising content.  Producers and advertisers will always focus on what they want to convey to the people throughout the content of the advert – they will want to deliver their idea in a creative way to attract attention. It is important to remember that, whilst advertisers have freedom to be creative, there are limits imposed by these laws and local culture.

All companies that develop or deliver advertising to the public need to be aware of these laws. To assist them in this, we have developed a set of Questions and Answers that all advertisers should ask themselves before creating an advertisement.  These provide a simple pathway to highlight some of key issues that can arise. 

Could your advertisement content offend someone indirectly?  Could the content be offensive to a particular culture?  

The answer can be complex and is particularly subjective.  Advertising may be offensive to one section of the community but not another – for example, an advertisement may be offensive to a particular culture or religion. It is important to balance the value of the message against the risk of causing offence. 

Is the message in any way ambiguous or misleading?

Advertising also runs a high risk of being considered as having misleading content. Consumers' perspectives on the advertisements should not be disregarded – this is not always a matter that can be determined by a review of the laws and regulations.  Past consumer behavior should also be considered. It is also important to note that the authorities are highly discretionary as to whether the advertisement has violated the law and is considered either offensive or misleading. Therefore, in the United Arab Emirates in particular, advertisements should be sensitive to the cultural expectations and tolerances of the target audience within the context of the legal framework governing the dissemination of advertising content.

Do you need the appropriate consent/ right from the copyright owner of any of the content?

Generally speaking, producers and advertisers must always bear in mind that, unless they developed and produced every element of the campaign themselves, they may be infringing another person's copyright by using music, images or clips without a proper licence.  It is important to note that it is standard practice for a rights owner to substantially increase the licence fee if there is an infringement – it is always more cost effective in the long run to licence the rights appropriately at the beginning of the process.

Do I need to worry about my campaign if it is just on-line?  Could the Cybercrime law relate to advertising?

On-line campaigns must still comply with all the laws that relate to advertising.  In addition the Cybercrime law may become relevant if there was a criminal aspect in broadcasting an advert. For example, gambling is prohibited in the UAE and, under the cybercrime laws, the advertising of gambling on-line would lead to severe penalties. When it comes to publication in any media it is important to take a 'helicopter' view and be aware of all potential pitfalls including potential criminal implications.

Sanctions for violating the advertisement laws and regulations

Companies spend so much time and expense on their advertisement to support the promotion of their  brand.  Financial penalties and potentially adverse PR will certainly undermine these efforts and thus advertisers should avoid unconsciously violating regulations. Failure to do so may mean spending money and creative effort on an advertisement which could be banned from media outlets.

As an example of the range of sanctions that are available in the case of a violation of the regulations, the National Media Council has the right to require any of the following actions from the advertiser in question:

  • warning;
  • suspension of the advertisement and apology;
  • the removal of the damage resulted from the violation;
  • apply to close down the establishment or shop;
  • suspension of the licenses of the media outlet for the period deemed appropriate by the Council; and/or
  • cancellation of the license granted to the media outlet.

In conclusion, all content that is available to the general public must be rigorously vetted in order to ensure that it is compliant with the law, the regulations and as the principles and standards of within the wider community.  Anything less will be potentially crippling to the advertiser and could lead to damage to the brand's reputation in the marketplace. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions