The UAE Government has issued a federal decree-law on regulating media, which aims to organise media activities in the UAE, promote its status as a global media hub, and establish an enabling environment to catalyse the growth and prosperity of the media sector.
The provisions of the decree apply to individuals, organisations, media outlets, and free zones dedicated to media in the UAE.
It allows both individuals and legal entities to own media institutions and outlets in accordance with specific regulations and conditions.
As per the decree, media activities include the production, circulation, printing, and publishing of media content.
It also encompasses audio, video, and digital broadcasting at a cost or free of charge.
This includes all affairs pertaining to the issuance and oversight of licences and permits for the execution of media activities by individuals, establishments, and media institutions, including:
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Cinema movies and creative productions
- Newspapers and publications
- Digital and electronic media activities
- Book fairs
- Foreign publications
- Foreign media offices
- Circulating and publishing media content
- Aerial, ground, and maritime imaging operations
Also, the federal decree provisions organise the authorities of the UAE Media Council and the local government entities concerned with regulating media affairs.
As per the decree, all media individuals and institutions operating within the UAE are required to comply with the national standards for media content, most notably respecting the divine and Islamic beliefs, as well as all other religions and beliefs; respecting the country’s sovereignty, symbols, and institutions; and the supreme interests of the UAE and its society; respecting the directions and policies of the country on the local and international levels; avoiding any actions that may have an adverse impact on the UAE’s foreign relations; and respecting the culture and civilization, national identity, and values of the UAE community.
In addition, the media outlets and individuals must refrain from disseminating or circulating information that may offend or compromise national unity or social cohesion, incite violence, hatred, or propagate a spirit of discord among society members, the UAE’s legal and economic system, ensuring justice and security are not exploited or abused, as well as respecting privacy rules and individuals’ private lives; refrain from publishing, broadcasting, or circulating rumours, false and misleading news, or the publication of any matter that may constitute instigation to commit crimes.
As per the decree, the UAE Media Council is responsible for issuing permits for the screening of cinematographic and other creative productions.
In addition to defining the classifications of the Media Content Rating System for prints and creative productions, including books, video games, and cinematic production.
The Council will also be responsible for determining the age groups suitable to view media and entertainment content.
The Council is also in charge of issuing permits to individuals providing advertising or media content on social media and other modern technical means, at a cost or free of charge.
The decree mandates that licenced or authorised individuals and media outlets be subject to oversight and supervision by the competent authority; it allows the Council to conduct surveillance and inspection of persons, outlets, and media institutions, including free zones.
According to the Decree-Law, the UAE Media Council, in coordination with the competent authorities, will promote the protection of intellectual property among individuals, establishments, and media institutions in the UAE.
The decree law granted individuals, organisations, and media outlets a period of time to comply with the provisions of the Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations, within a twelve-month period from the effective date of its provisions, extendable by a Cabinet decision.