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Requirements for the content of advertising materials

1. General Provisions

1.1. These Requirements for the Content of Advertising Materials (the «Requirements») shall be applicable to all promotional advertisements used in connection with 2GIS Products in the United Arab Emirates (the «UAE»).

1.2. The advertisements that are produced, placed or distributed within the UAE or imported into the UAE must abide by the National Media Council Resolutions on Advertising Standards. The content of all advertisements that are printed and distributed through visual media in the UAE is governed by the Publications and Publishing Law, Federal Law No. 15 of 1980 (the «Publishing Law»), The Cabinet Resolution No. (23) of 2017 on media content, National Media Council Advertising Guide.

1.3. National Standards defer the control and regulation of specialized advertising related to health, promotional campaigns, real estate, educational institutions, or securities or financial services to the respective regulatory authority of those sectors.

2. Advertising standards in UAE

2.1. In accordance with legislation, the content of advertisements must:

a) not offend Islam and must respect monotheistic religions;

b) respect the ruling regime in the UAE, including the heads of state, rulers, members of the royal family, government and the symbols and political institutions thereof;

c) respect the cultural and traditional heritage of the UAE;

d) not offend public discipline and national order, or incite sectarian dissension among the tribes and individuals of society;

e) respect the laws and policies of the UAE, both on a domestic level and in terms of the UAE’s relations with other countries;

f) not offend the economic stability of the UAE, or spread rumours or misleading news;

g) respect the UAE’s programs to enhance its national identity;

h) respect the ethical and honest principles, values and standards of the UAE, including the rules governing business, consumer protection, fair competition and the prohibition of commercial fraud and monopolies;

i) not be offensive to children, women or any social groups;

j) not incite hatred or violence;

k) not include obscene photos or words;

l) not promote the acts of sorcery or astrological predictions;

m) comply with the conditions and controls related to the UAE flag, national emblem and anthem;

n) respect intellectual property rights of others;

o) not advertise alcoholic beverages or narcotic substances in any way, whether directly or indirectly; and

p) not advertise tobacco or smoking of any kind or method, nor any related goods and services.

2.2. In addition, the language of all advertisements shall:

a) not be ambiguous, obscure or void of any clear indications;

b) not include any false or misleading claims, resort to exaggerations and/or intimidation, claim to be unique by disrespecting competitors nor resort to fraud or deception;

c) not include images that are falsified or imitated or images that violate intellectual property rights of others;

d) not lead to confusion or ambiguity with other products or activities;

e) include the spoken Emirati dialect or the classic Arabic language; and

f) clearly identify the advertiser.

2.3. All specialized advertising such as that related to medicine, drugs, energy drinks, promotional campaigns, special offers, real estate, financial services, nurseries, or universities and educational institutions must obtain prior approvals from the competent authorities.

2.4. 2GIS must ensure compliance with advertising standards by keeping records of all the advertising material produced, printed or distributed for the previous three (3) consecutive months. Accordingly, 2GIS reserves the right to request from the advertiser documents or data to prove compliance with the standards, including data on obtaining licenses and mandatory certifications.

3. The Publishing Law

3.1. In accordance with Chapter 7 of the Publishing Law, the following materials are prohibited to be published:

a) criticisms made against the head of the UAE or rulers of the Emirates;

b) any work that involves any instigation against Islam or the system of ruling in the UAE or that causes harm to the interest of the UAE or the values of its society;

c) opinions that violate public discipline and order, involve insult to teenagers or call for or circulate subversive ideas;

d) material that instigates criminal activity, incites hatred or provokes actions of dissension among individuals of society;

e) confidential, official or military communications, unless permission is obtained from the proper authority;

f) conventions or treaties the government becomes a party to before they are published in the official gazette, unless permission is obtained;

g) minutes of meetings, deliberations, or court hearings published in bad faith, misinterpreted or distorted;

h) articles causing damage to the president of an Arab, Islamic or any other friendly state or any material that agitates the relations between the UAE and other Arab, Islamic and friendly countries;

i) articles defaming Arabs and their civilization and heritage;

j) news on an ongoing criminal investigation if the judge orders the investigation to be kept confidential or the public prosecution restricts such publication;

k) news, pictures or comments about an individual’s private life if their publication is meant to disgrace such individuals;

l) secrets that may cause harm to the reputation of a person, his property or his commercial name;

m) publications meant to coerce a person into paying money or rendering a benefit to someone else;

n) false news about a person published in bad faith, including forged or tampered documents to relate such news to the person;

o) news that causes harm to the UAE national currency or causes damage to the UAE national economy;

p) phrases, expressions or pictures that are inconsistent with public conduct or might otherwise mislead the public;

q) advertisements for medicines or pharmaceutical preparations without permission from the proper authority at the UAE Ministry of Health; and

r) offensive information about a public official, or any person occupying a post in the public prosecution or assigned to perform a public job, unless the writer can prove the information was published in good faith.

4. Health Advertisements

4.1. UAE Ministry of Health Resolution No. 430 of 2007 governs advertisements for the following products and services:

a) medicines;

b) herbal supplements;

c) medical additives;

d) beauty products;

e) medical equipment and accessories; and

f) services of medical institutions and medical practitioners using traditional or alternative medical treatment methods, collectively referred to as «Medical Products.»

4.2. Before publicizing an advertisement of Medical Products, the advertiser must obtain an advertising license from the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (the «MoHAP»).

4.2.1. In order to qualify for an advertising license, the content of the advertisement must:

a) include the nature, quality and attributes of the Medical Product;

b) not breach the general laws and regulations of the UAE, including the Publishing Law, laws related to the practice of medicine or medical professions, law related to the practice of pharmacology and establishing pharmaceutical institutions, and laws related to private health establishments;

c) contain true and balanced statements, including scientific information;

d) not contradict UAE customs and traditions or Islamic principles nor cause harm to public decency;

e) not cause damage to a third party’s products or facilities;

f) avoid overstatements and exaggerations and contain text that is not misleading;

g) not create untrue expectations with regard to the Medical Product;

h) not convince a consumer with a serious illness to improperly self-diagnose himself by treating his illness with the Medical Product;

i) not suggest to consumers that serious consequences shall occur if they do not use the Medical Product;

j) not warn against a competing product licensed in the UAE;

k) not encourage excessive, unsuitable or exclusive consumption of the Medical Product;

l) not include any claim, statement or suggestion of guarantees of success, magic or miraculous treatments;

m) not contain any guarantee or suggestion that it is a safe product and will not cause any harm or side effects (the words “safe” or “effective” shall not be used and particular attention shall be given to basic information on the safety of the product, such as contraindications, precautions and side effects); 

n) not target minors;

o) not offer personal incentives to pharmacist assistants or retail sales persons not qualified as a pharmacist in exchange for their recommendation of the Medical Product;

p) contain scientific expressions that are suitable and understandable to the public, and published research results should identify the researcher and the financial sponsor of the research; and

q) identify the product sponsor only if the sponsor is in the field of general health and approves being identified.

4.3. Under the Electronic Media Regulation the UAE National Media Council (NMC) specifically requires that any advertising of medicine and drugs on the internet/social media requires prior approvals from the competent authorities – alongside a specific license from the NMC to advertise and promote content electronically, in accordance with the general requirements of the EMR.

4.4. It is a violation of the law to advertise the following products and services:

a)     Abortions;

b)     Embryo freezing;

c)     Products that are proven to be harmful to individuals;

d)     Treatment or preventing the following diseases: cancer, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), hepatitis, mental and psychological disorders;

e)     Tattooing.

4.4.1. Law also prohibits the advertisement of any prescription only drugs (except for promotion in scientific resources or magazines intended for healthcare practitioners).

4.5. Advertising for Private Health Establishments

4.5.1. In addition to the advertisement requirements described in clause 4.2 herein, including approval by the MOHAP, private health establishment advertisements are restricted to the following situations:

a) opening a new medical establishment;

b) changing location or contact details of the medical establishment;

c) opening new licensed departments within the establishment; and

d) organizing workshops, symposia and conferences.

4.6. Advertising Services of Doctors and Technicians

4.6.1. In addition to the advertisement requirements described in clause 4.2 herein, doctors and technicians are restricted to advertising their services to the following situations, and the advertisement may only run for one (1) week:

a) joining a private health establishment;

b) changing working locations;

c) announcing a return after being abroad for more than one month; and

d) announcing dates of visiting doctors.

4.7. Advertisers must obtain special approvals from the MOHAP for advertisements regarding health events, including conferences, courses, workshops, and television or radio interviews with medical specialists within the UAE, and for publishing advertisements in the UAE for such events occurring outside the UAE.

4.8. Advertisers for medical equipment must obtain approvals by the MOHAP, and the equipment must be deemed safe for public use by the competent authority.

5. Advertising Promotions and Special Offers

5.1. Promotions and Raffles

5.1.1. Advertisers of promotional campaigns or raffles must obtain an advertising permit from the Department of Economic Development of the Emirate in which it is licensed to do business. Promotional campaigns are defined as activities conducted to promote a product or service.

5.1.2. The advertisements for the promotions cannot violate the National Standards.

5.1.3. The advertisements for the promotions or raffles must include:

a) the timeline for receipt of the promotional product;

b) the date of the raffle (if any); and

c) the participating locations of the promotions or raffle.

5.1.4. The prizes awarded during the promotional campaigns must be benefits, incentives or in-kind vouchers.

5.2. Discounts and Special Offers

5.2.1. Advertisers of discounts and special offers must obtain an advertising permit from the Department of Economic Development of the Emirate in which it is licensed to do business.

5.2.2. The advertisement must indicate the percentage of the discount (may range from 25% to 75%), and in the event of a range of percentages, the low and high range of the discount.

5.2.3. Sales may not last for longer than thirty (30) days, with an allowance of an extension of one (1) week, and there must be at least a two (2) week gap in between each sale.

5.2.4. The following shall apply for weekly special offers:

a) discounts may not be less than twenty-five percent (25%) of the usual price of the goods or services; and

b) the profit rate should not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the cost of the goods or services.

6. Advertising for Educational Institutions

6.1. All advertisements and marketing materials for educational providers must be approved by the educational authority in the Emirate in which the provider is licensed. Educational providers in the Free Zones get approval from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority («KHDA»).

6.2. All advertisements and marketing materials for educational providers based in the Emirate of Dubai must abide by the requirements of KHDA, as described in this clause 6.2.

6.2.1. The content of the material must:

a) be legal, decent, honest, and truthful, and prepared with a sense of responsibility towards Dubai’s society;

b) not be misleading, and must be amended if circumstances change that would render an approved advertisement misleading;

c) clearly explain links in ownership if the educational institution is owned in partnership with another educational institution;

d) provide evidence for any claims that are made within the material (awards, rankings, acknowledgments and collaborations), including the date and timeline of such claims;

e) not discredit or unfairly attack another educational institution;

f) include evidence of accuracy of testimonials used;

g) not include names or logos that closely resemble any other names or logos, and such logos must clearly represent the educational institution;

h) publicize accredited and approved courses/programs;

i) include information regarding any construction of the premises (if it takes place), including a disclaimer “opening and operations are subject to the completion of the building and final approval from KHDA”;

j) include language that is appropriate and not offensive, and must state the intention of the educational institution without ambiguity;

k) not violate or contravene the principles of Islam, the national identity of the UAE or culture prevalent in the region;

l) not be racist or adversely target any community or nationality living in the UAE;

m) not resemble any other advertisement that it misleads or causes confusion to the general public;

n) comply with all laws of the UAE.

6.2.2. KHDA does not permit any raffle, schemes or draws in any form (giveaways, benefits or lifestyle-related gifts; excluding scholarships and/or other financial aids) that directly encourage individuals to register with the educational institution.

6.2.3. Schools and Universities may use the final performance rating reports in commercial advertisements from the Dubai Inspection Bureau (DSIB) or Higher Education Classification (HEC) with the community through their website and other communications.

6.2.4. Any advertisements for university programs that are not accredited by KHDA’s University Quality Assurance International Board or another recognized accrediting body must clearly state that the program is not approved by KHDA. KHDA approvals for such advertisements are considered on a case-by-case basis.

6.3. KHDA reserves the right:

6.3.1. to identify and challenge any text that appears excessively long, obscure or complex. If material contains unfamiliar words, jargon, legal words, abbreviations, long words and proper nouns that are not recognizable, KHDA may request the institution to replace or clarify these terms;

6.3.2. to request changes and insert disclaimers in advertisements/media material as and when necessary.

7. Advertising for Providers of Real Estate

7.1. All providers of real estate services in the Emirate of Dubai must include the following in their advertisements:

a) A picture of the property;

b) A price and description of the property; and

c) The provider’s name and registration number with the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency.

7.2. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency requires real estate companies to obtain permits before launching any real estate marketing campaign and to include the permit number in all real estate ads. In addition, companies must display their advertisements according to the conditions approved in the permit as well as obtain final approvals from other concerned authorities. As for the websites concerned with real estate ads, they are to be associated with is a link to ensure that the displayed ads adhere to the permit conditions.

7.3. Developers and brokers need to receive approval from Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) before they place any property advertisement in the media. Real Estate brokers need to submit the following: Form A signed by the property owner (a document that authorizes the agent to advertise the property as per the price agreed upon), title deed, copies of ID (passport and/or Emirates ID) of the Property Owner or Representative. The permit is valid for three months and the permit number needs be to highlighted in the advertisement.

7.4. In case of marketing off-plan properties in Dubai, the following should be complied with:

a)     Mention the developer’s name and number in the advertisement;

b)     Mention the project’s name and number of registration in the advertisement;

c)     Mention the trustees account number, the expected service charge and completion date.

8. Advertising for Providers of Financial Services and Securities

8.1. Financial Products such as securities, commodities contracts, derivatives, structured products, or any other foreign securities are regulated by the  Promotion and Introduction Activities (the PIR) set out in Decision No. 3 of 2017 issued by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (the SCA).

8.2. Subject to the exceptions set out in the PIR (clause 8.3. below), the PIR explicitly prohibits onshore in the UAE:

a)     the Promotion of Financial Products that are not listed, registered, or recorded with the SCA; and

b)     the Introduction of any financial services or activities where such Introduction has not been approved by the SCA.

8.3. Promotional and introductory activities listed below would not require any license, consent or notifications to be obtained or given under the PIR:

a)     Financial intermediary companies authorised by the SCA to trade on behalf of its clients in foreign markets within the limits set by the SCA in this respect.

b)     Promotion of Financial Products immediately upon listing in any market (under the PIR markets refers to securities and commodities markets licensed in the UAE by the SCA and therefore this exemption is effectively limited to UAE listed securities).

c)     Promotion of securities, commodities contracts, derivatives issued by the federal government or the local governments, and institutions and governmental authorities, or companies wholly owned by any of them.

d)     Promotion and Introduction activities carried out between the parent company and its subsidiaries or sister companies, affiliates or intra-group (i.e. related parties).

e)     Introduction activities by a financial consultancy and financial analysis company, or legal advisers, only when the Introduction is part of the consultancy services and provided that disclosure is made to the customer of any commissions received and to each party involved of the relationship the introducer has with each party involved in the Introduction.

f)      An arranging broker acting in accordance with the special regime for listing and trading commodities contracts and commodities. 

8.5. Investment fund managers also benefit from partial exemptions and are not required to obtain a promotion license or comply with the general promoter obligations set out in the PIR when promoting their own funds, although they are still required to comply with the special obligations, including those for investment funds and the requirement to obtain consent for fund promotions.  

8.6. Foreign and local issuers and financial advisors acting in accordance with the SCA’s Regulation regarding the Offering and Issuing of Public Joint Stock Company shares are not required to:

a)     Obtain an SCA licence to carry out promotion activities;

b)     Comply with the general promoter obligations set out in the PIR;

c)     Comply with the special promoter obligations set out in the PIR (which include applying for SCA approval to market funds and notifying the SCA of promotional activity undertaken in respect of financial products);

d)     Comply with the content requirements for promotional materials;

e)     Comply with the obligations relating to the promotion of foreign funds set out in the PIR; or

f)      Obtain SCA approval for making introductions or comply with the introducer obligations set out in the PIR. 

8.7. Where the target investor, and/or the activity intended to be carried out by the promoter/introducer do not fall under any of the above exemptions, such promotions will require a licence from the SCA and any such introduction activities will require the consent of the SCA. The PIR also sets out ongoing obligations which the promoter or introducer are required to comply with in carrying out the licensed/approved activities.

9. Final Provisions

9.1. The current version of these Requirements is available on the Website at http://law.2gis.ae/advert-rules/requirements/.