December 21st, 2023 General

An Overview of the UAE’s Media Law


The United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) has recently introduced Federal Law No. 55 of 2023 regarding the regulation of media (“Media Law”) aimed at regulating diverse media activities within the UAE.


The primary objective of the Media Law is to develop a modern legislative and investment media environment that keeps pace with global changes in the media sector and enhances the attractiveness of the media sector in the UAE, in addition to elevating the media content.

Who are the addressees under the Media Law?

The Media Law is applicable to all individuals, establishments, media institutions, and media outlets, as well as free media zones engaging in media activities within the UAE. Media establishments are required by virtue of the Media Law to obtain the relevant licenses and permits to operate media activities. The Media Law determines the scope of media activities to encompass any activity related to the production, transmission, distribution, printing, publication, and broadcasting of media content, whether it be in written, audible, visual, or digital form, and its accessibility to the public through media channels, whether compensated or uncompensated. These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Radio and television broadcasting, including television broadcasting via IPTV, OTT, or VOD.
  • Video game services and arcade games (interactive and non-interactive).
  • Cinematic films and artistic presentations.
  • Newspapers and printed publications.
  • Book exhibitions.
  • Electronic and digital media activities.
  • Photography activities.

Those who violate from individuals, establishments, media institutions, or their responsible representatives, are subject to one or more of the following administrative penalties:

  • Administrative fines ranging from AED 1,000 to AED 1,000,000, which may be doubled in case of recurrence provided that it shall not exceed AED 2,000,000.
  • Administrative shutdown of non-compliant media establishments for a period not exceeding 6 months, renewable.
  • Revocation of licenses, permits, and approvals issued to individuals, establishments, or media institutions.
What is next?

While the executive regulations of the Media Law are anticipated to be released within the next 6 months (by April 2024), the Media Law provides that the previous regulations shall remain in place until the new executive regulations are issued. Such new regulations are poised to offer a more detailed framework and supplement the broad principles articulated in the Media Law. It is expected to outline specific procedures, guidelines, and nuanced provisions essential for the effective implementation and enforcement of the Media Law across diverse media activities.

How can we help?

The Media Law mandates that all concerned entities should reconcile their status with its provisions within one year as of its implementation (i.e., 1 December 2024). Our team would be delighted to assist the media institution to better understand the Media Law and rectify the licensing status, if required. Please reach out to our Managing Partner, Alex Saleh or our Partner Yousef Alamly for any assistance

Authors: Maha El Meihy, Legal Director, and Salma Farouq, Associate.

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