Middle East

What you need to know about Saudi Arabia’s new social media influencer permit

LONDON: As more Saudis connect through their social media profiles and benefit from these platforms, the Kingdom has launched a new licensing system to properly oversee the influencer industry.

From early October, all Saudi and non-Saudi content creators who generate income through advertising on social media must first apply for a formal permit from the General Authority for Audiovisual Media (GCAM).

For a fee of 15,000 riyals (approximately $4,000), content creators receive a permit valid for three years. During that time, you can work with as many private organizations as you like and promote your products and services, as long as you don’t violate them. Laws or values ​​of a kingdom.

The influencer license “does not allow censorship or blocking,” GCAM CEO Esra Assery told Arab News. “It’s like a permit that allows the sector to mature. I want to be able to build a career.”

The new regulations are touted as legal protections for both influencers and businesses who want to advertise, standardizing fees and contractual obligations across the industry.

“The market is very unregulated,” said Assery. “We are not against influencers or their individuals. In fact, we want them to be effective. So advertisers are also protected.”

Esra Assery, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Board of Audiovisual Media, said: (attached)

Today, anyone in Saudi Arabia can advertise on social media and earn money from doing business with private companies. Depending on how many followers an influencer can reach, payouts per post can rise to thousands of riyals.

Concerns have been expressed that introducing permissions and regulations could reduce the amount of money influencers can make and even censor them. However, GCAM claims the permit is designed to ensure transparency between influencers and their clients.

Saudi influencers, whether based locally or internationally, must apply for a permit if they wish to work with brands (local or international). However, domestic residents outside of Saudi Arabia will have to follow a different path.

After applying for a work permit in the country from the Ministry of Investment, you can apply for an influencer permit through the GCAM. However, residents outside Saudi Arabia must be represented by a specific advertising agency.

“While some influencers may see short-term losses from paying licensing fees, licensing has significant benefits as it justifies the sector at the national level,” said Gambit Communications. Founder and Managing Director Jamal Al-Mawed said. told Arab News.

“This is very important for the influencer industry, as it has been a bit of a wild west for marketing in the past, without clear benchmarks for fees and contracts.”

Al-Mawed said the new measures “can protect fraud-susceptible brands when paying huge budgets to influencers who are buying fake followers and fake engagement.” This creates a vicious circle and hardworking content creators are undermined by bad apples. ”

Al-Mawed added that while the new license is unlikely to solve all problems overnight, “it creates a foundation of greater professionalism and accountability.”

The new rules bar non-Saudi residents and visitors to the Kingdom from posting ads on social media without a license. (shutterstock image)

In June, non-Saudi residents and visitors to the Kingdom were banned from posting ads on social media without a license. Anyone who ignores the verdict could face a five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to her 5 million riyals.

The GCAM announced the ban after discovering “violations by a number of non-Saudi advertisers (both residents and visitors) on social media platforms.”

“After checking their data, we found that they committed systematic violations, including lack of commercial registration and legal licenses, and they do not work under any commercial entity or foreign investment license.” the committee said at the time.

Regulated licenses now make such violations easier to monitor and the sector is better regulated to ensure full transparency.

Businesses such as bakeries and hair salons that maintain social media accounts and promote their own products and services are exempt from the ban. (shutterstock image)

While Saudi influencers can earn extra income through promotional campaigns on their social media profiles while working full-time jobs, the law does not allow non-Saudi nationals to have certain rights while residing in the Kingdom. It is stipulated that you can only work in one role.

However, this system does not apply to businesses and organizations such as bakeries and hair salons that maintain social media accounts and advertise their products and services on these platforms. Only individuals will be affected by the new law.

However, there are certain exceptions, such as individuals invited by ministries and government agencies to perform, such as musicians and entertainers.

With the rise of social media over the past decade, content creators or so-called influencers with thousands of followers on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have drawn audiences away from traditional media such as television, newspapers, and magazines, I have been drawn to new media. Mostly unregulated media.

Advertisers have followed the flock as they sense the shift in content consumption. As companies rush to take advantage of more “natural-feeling” product placements, crystal clear blue waters stroking the white sands of luxury resorts and delicious feasts in top restaurants are now commonplace in influencer profiles. I’m here.

But regulators are struggling to keep up with this rapid change, and the process is open to legal disputes, exploitation and abuse. That is why authorities around the world are also considering allowing influencers.

Dubai, widely known as the influencer hub of the Middle East, is one of them.

In 2018, the UAE’s National Media Council launched a new electronic media regulatory system. This required social media influencers to obtain a license to operate in the country.

An annual license costs 15,000 AED (approximately $4,000). Those who fail to obtain or renew their licenses may face penalties such as fines of up to 5,000 AED, verbal or official warnings, and even closure of social media accounts.

This rule also applies to influencers visiting the UAE. They must have a license or sign up with an NMC registered influencer agency to operate in the country.

The introduction of the license is seen as a step in the right direction as Saudi Arabia is making progress in the entertainment and creative industries.

“This is great news for the industry,” said Al-Mawed. “Once someone gets a license to provide services from the government, it gives them a certain amount of security and trust, which helps weed out scammers who prefer to keep a low profile.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140406/saudi-arabia What you need to know about Saudi Arabia’s new social media influencer permit

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