The law regulating media
The Federal Decree-Law No. 55 of 2023 (PDF in Arabic, 3.2 MB) on Media Regulation organises media activities of individuals, organisations, media outlets, and free zones dedicated to media in the UAE.
As per the decree, a media activity means the production, circulation, printing or publishing of media content. Media content may be in audio, video or digital format. Activity may either be at a cost or free of charge. Media activities include:
- radio and television broadcasting
- cinema movies and creative productions
- ·newspapers and publications
- digital and electronic media activities
- imaging activities
- book fairs.
The decree-law allows both, individuals and legal entities to own media institutions and outlets under specific regulations and conditions. The provisions of the decree-law organise the media authorities of the UAE Media Council and the local governments concerned with regulating media affairs.
Standards of media content
As per the decree, all media individuals and institutions operating in the UAE are required to comply with the national standards for media content. Standards include:
- 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 hurt the UAE’s foreign relations
- respecting the culture and civilisation, national identity and values of the UAE community
- refraining from disseminating or circulating information that may offend or compromise national unity or social cohesion, incite violence or hatred or propagate a spirit of discord among society members, and the UAE’s legal and economic system
- ensuring that justice and security are not exploited or abused
- respecting privacy rules and individuals' private lives
- refraining from publishing, broadcasting or circulating rumours, false and misleading news or the publication of any matter that may constitute instigation to commit crimes.
Violating the provisions of this decree-law may lead to administrative fines, closure of the media institution or cancellation of the media licence/permit.
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Internet media regulations
Internet Access Management (IAM) policy
Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) implements the Internet Access Management Regulatory Policy (PDF, 500 KB) in coordination with Media Regulatory Office (MRO) and Etisalat and Du, the licensed internet service providers in the UAE.
The regulation policy consists of certain frameworks and categories in regards to the internet, which must be taken into consideration by internet service providers to ensure the security of the internet and protect end-users from harmful websites containing materials that are contrary to religious and ethical values of the UAE.
TDRA monitors online content available to users in the UAE and will notify website operators based in the UAE of any potential breaches of the IAM policy. TDRA, in its enforcement of IAM, also monitors online advertising, including the advertising of medical and other specialised products and services.
Etisalat and Du are required to block online content if so is requested by TDRA. Categories under which content is restricted by virtue of the IAM policy are:
- bypassing blocked content
- pornography, nudity and vice
- impersonation, fraud and phishing
- insult, slander and defamation
- invasion of privacy
- offences against the UAE and the public order
- supporting criminal acts and skills
- medical and pharmaceutical practices in violation of the laws
- infringement of intellectual property rights
- discrimination, racism and contempt of religion
- viruses and malicious programs
- promotion of or trading in prohibited commodities and services
- illegal communication services
- prohibited top level domains
- illegal activities
- any content prohibited upon order from judicial authorities, or in accordance with the law.
Reporting prohibited content
As per TDRA’s internet guidelines, internet users can report online about prohibited content to the licensed internet service providers, Etisalat and Du.
General framework of the UAE Media Strategy
In January 2021, the UAE Cabinet approved the general framework of UAE Media Strategy which is overseen by the UAE Government Media Office. It is aimed to strengthen the UAE’s position and reputation at the regional and global levels with the general framework.
The strategy will:
- intensify the role of government communication within the federal authorities
- reinforce the concept of partnership, cooperation and integration between national media authorities
- establish partnerships with global media entities
- manage the country’s reputation and its achievements within local and international media coverage
- create a digital media environment capable of keeping pace with rapid changes and interacting with the world.
The strategy will also focus on several areas of national priority while:
- relying on the efficient and influential presence of the government in all media outlets
- promoting national culture and identity through all communication channels
- utilising modern technologies and digital media to interact with the public.
Read related news coverage on WAM.
Regulator of media in the UAE
At the federal level
The National Media Office (NMO) is a new media unit that will be responsible for developing the UAE’s media sector at the national level and enhance the UAE’s status as a key media hub regionally and internationally. NMO will support cooperation between the UAE’s various media offices, and ensure that Emiratis at higher positions in the media industry are equipped with media leadership skills.
NMO will train and upskill Emirati talent in media, develop and organise the roles of official spokespeople, represent the UAE at media conferences and events and conduct research within the media sector.
NMO is affiliated with Minister of Presidential Court and it will be based in Abu Dhabi with offices set up in the UAE and abroad. The Emirates News Agency (WAM) will report to the Head of NMO.
Read news coverage on WAM.
Media Regulatory Office (MRO) manages and regulates media activities and media-related free zones in the UAE. MRO operates under Ministry of Culture and Youth (which was renamed from Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development after the merger of National Media Council with Federal Youth Authority). Thus, it takes over the responsibilities of National Media Council.
The responsibilities of MRO include:
- preparing research and foresight studies related to the media sector in the UAE
- formulating legislations, regulations, standards and foundations for organising and licensing media and media activities including media and electronic publishing, and accrediting media professionals and correspondents of foreign media, including free zones
- proposing media conduct and ethics that ensure the public's right to obtain information from its source, and combatting false news and unprofessional media practices.
Get eServices in the media sector for individuals and government entities.
At the local level
Local media bodies contribute to the development of the media scene in the UAE. They include:
Updated on 04 Jan 2024