The UAE is one of the Middle East’s most attractive destinations for launching a new publication. There are over 500 magazines in circulation in the country, making it the top publisher in the region. And demand is huge – over 50% of literate citizens read a newspaper every day, while weekly magazines reach over 60% of the population.
Put simply, the market is thriving, and audiences are hungry for fresh content.
However, whether you plan to launch a new magazine or introduce an existing publication from abroad, you cannot simply open an office and start printing your UAE publication. Would-be magazine publishers first need National Media Council (NMC) approval – this is the government body which regulates media in the UAE.
The process of getting NMC approval may at first appear complex – there’s a substantial amount of paperwork you need to complete to get your licence. But with an understanding of how the process works in place, your licence should be signed off quickly and you can get publishing in no time.
So in this article, we’ll look at seven things you can do to make obtaining NMC approval seamless and smooth.
Why is National Media Council Approval Needed?
The NMC is a government body set up in 2006 which is responsible for regulating the UAE’s media sector. It ensures that publications and other media comply with Federal Law No. 15 of 1980 Concerning Press and Publications. The law prohibits the publication of certain types of material that are not permitted in the country, and also requires the publication’s owner, person in charge, and chief editor each to have a valid UAE residency visa.
Failing to comply could land you with a fine of up to AED 5,000 – or even a prison sentence. You therefore need to show you are compliant with the rules before you start publishing.
Failing to comply could land you with a fine of up to AED 5,000 – or even a prison sentence.
Getting NMC approval for your UAE publication
You must fulfil certain requirements to obtain your NMC license. We’ve sorted these into seven key steps:
1. Get the Essentials in Place
Before starting the application process, you will need to ensure certain essentials are all there:
- Your trade license must specify the activity ‘publishing’ – if not, you will need to notify the authorities and get this changed. Learn all about trade licences in the UAE here.
- Only visa package companies that have a company immigration card are eligible for an NMC permit.
- The company owner(s), person in charge, and chief editor of the magazine should all have a valid UAE residency visa.
- You must be at least 25 years old.
- You must be of good reputation and not have served a prison sentence (unless pardoned)
2. Setup Your Business in a Free Zone
There are several free zones dedicated to the media in the UAE which offer the benefit of connecting you to similar businesses in your sector.
These are the media-focused free zones in the UAE: TwoFour54 – Abu Dhabi; Dubai Media City; Dubai Production City; Dubai Studio City; Sharjah Media City Free Zone; Ajman Media Free Zone; Fujairah Creative City; and RAK Media City.
3. Request a Letter from the Free Zone to the NMC
The free zone authorities will write you a letter for the NMC which will confirm you have opened your offices on their premises. You will also need to provide a copy of your company trade license as well as the NMC application form and the declaration for publication activity form filled and signed by the owner(s).
4. Provide Details About the Magazine
You will need to provide a brief profile of the magazine which includes a description of what you publish, who your target audience is, and the theme of the publication. Also include samples of the editor’s message column, the editor’s column name, the language of the magazine, and information on frequency of issue.
The NMC requires three back-copies of the magazine, or three dummy magazines if you plan to launch a new publication. All magazines (dummy and actual) should include the information that the publication is part of a free zone, by including the free zone logo within the magazine.
The NMC requires three back-copies of the magazine, or three dummy magazines if you plan to launch a new publication.
5. Provide Details About the Publisher and Key Staff
To obtain NMC approval, you must provide certain details about your company’s owner and your editor-in-chief: A passport copy of each owner, along with the visa page; a passport copy along with the visa page of the editor; the Emirates ID copy of the editor; education certificate for the editor; evidence the editor has at least one year of relevant experience.
6. Contacts and Paperwork
Along with your application, you will also need to share other details about your UAE publication: a website address for the magazine; contact number of all the owners of the company and the person in charge; licensing requirements and licensee obligations should be signed and stamped by the person in charge.
Finally, you will need to pay the fees for your specific type of publication, at the rates shown below:
Publication type fees in AED
Daily newspaper 100,000
Weekly newspaper 35,000
Weekly magazine 25,000
Bimonthly magazine 15,000
Monthly magazine (or every two months) 10,000
Quarterly magazine 3,000
Annual magazine 1,000
Electronic journal/newspaper 15,000
Start the Press
The UAE is a hugely exciting market for publishers, and there’s a massive demand for content tailored to the different interest groups, nationalities, and industries in the country. Obtaining NMC approval for your UAE publication does require you to navigate a little bureaucracy, which is where working with a company formation specialist can be extremely helpful. Once you have that in place, the process is straightforward, and you’ll be printing your publication in no time at all.
Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, click here.