Browse topics

  • Governing law
    NameLaw or Code?
    Commercial Permit Guidebook of the Dubai Department of Economic Development (the 'Dubai Commercial Permit Guidebook') Guidebook
    Federal Law (3) of 1987 (the 'Penal Code') Code
    Federal Law (5) of 1985 (the 'Civil Code') Code
    Federal Law (24) of 2006 (the 'Consumer Protection Law') Code
    Federal Law (19) of 2016 (the 'Anti-Commercial Fraud Law') Code
    Note: There is broad scope for the exercise of discretion by the relevant authorities and the rules themselves may change at short notice. The information included in this handbook in relation to the UAE - Dubai reflects the content of the rules and regulations available to the public and our conversations with the relevant officials.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Extra-territoriality

    The Dubai Commercial Guidebook rules on promotions which applies to a promotion that targets customers located in Dubai and is operated from a non-UAE website by an entity operating abroad.

    We understand that it is sufficient that the promotion targets and addresses customers in Dubai for the rules to apply. However, we are not aware of instances where the authorities have actually enforced those rules against entities operating abroad.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Skills competitions

    Yes, provided that:

    • A permit is obtained for the campaign (instant prize fees paid as skills competition prizes are considered instant prizes);

    • Participants do not pay to enter, and

    • Criteria for awarding prizes are clearly defined.

    The skill element requires that the prize promotion is not based on a game of chance and the participants are not gambling or otherwise participating in a bet.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Prize draws

    Only prize draws are permitted, provided:

    • Participants do not pay to enter (but participation may be linked to paying for the promoted product or service); and

    • A permit is obtained from the Department of Economic Development (DED) for conducting the promotional campaign and its relevant draw.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Selection of winners

    The draw itself must be conducted in the presence of a representative of the DED, even when taking place outside of Dubai or the United Arab Emirates.

    This requirement is compulsory and any draw that fails to meet this condition may be cancelled by the DED.

    Prize winners should receive their prize within 60 days from the final day of the promotional campaign or draw date. Any unclaimed prizes at the end of this period should be returned to the DED and when the prizes are vouchers, travel tickets or coupons the same should be returned in the form of cheques.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Judges

    There are no set qualifications in relation to judges for skill competitions. However, the attendance of a DED representative is compulsory at the time of selecting winners.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Prizes

    Prizes must be awarded as described in the marketing communication.

    Consumers are protected under the Consumer Protection Law and so all prizes must be fit for purpose and confirm with their advertised specification.

    Prizes can include benefits, incentives or vouchers but cannot be an amount of money. Generally a request can be made on a case by case basis to the DED to confirm whether a prize is acceptable.

    Alcohol, pork products or any other product or service that is against Islamic Shari'a law cannot be awarded as a prize.

    Campaign organizers can allocate consolation prizes of a value not exceeding AED 100 (approx. US$27), provided there are no more than 100 awards in a single campaign, and 50 awards for each draw in case of multiple draws.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Registration requirements and fees

    Registration Requirements

    A permit must be obtained from the DED for all types of prize promotion campaigns.

    Fees / Taxes Payable

    Fees vary according to campaign details (prize value, number of sites etc.) and to whether it is related to draws or to instant prizes. A list of fees is provided by the DED for certain standard campaigns. For other types of campaigns, the DED will decide on the fees payable after reviewing the details of the specific campaign.

    Please find the list of fees for certain standard campaigns in the Guidebook (pp.19 and 20) here.

    Any tax implications in relation to prize promotions should be confirmed directly with specialist tax advisors.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Other local requirements

    The applicant must have a valid commercial license in the Emirate of Dubai and have been carrying out its activities in Dubai under the license for more than one month.

    It is not permitted to promote tobacco and cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, pork or spoiled or expired food.

    The terms and conditions of the draw/competition must be in the Arabic language. The terms and conditions should include as much detail as possible, relevant dates and other requirements (for example, the requirement to produce a passport or other documentation in order to receive a prize).

    The term of the campaign should not exceed two months. In some exceptional cases promotional campaigns may run for a maximum period of one calendar year where the fees are calculated by the type of campaign, with the condition of having one draw every two months in the case of campaigns involving draws.

    The requirements to obtain a permit for promotional campaigns vary between Emirates. This note deals with the Emirate of Dubai only.

    Particular rules may apply when the draw falls during one of the Dubai shopping festivals.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Timing

    No, although the DED requires that the term of the promotion does not exceed two months (in other words, longer promotions will require more than one permit). A permit may take two to three weeks to obtain.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Translations

    The terms and conditions of the draw/competition must be translated to the Arabic language, as per the DED requirement.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Penalties for non-compliance

    There are a variety of fines which may be awarded by the DED for non-compliance, such as a fine for not having the DED representative present at the draw (AED10,000) (approx. US$2,700), a fine for using or exploiting a Dubai Shopping Festival without permission (AED20,000) (approx. US$5,400) and a fine for submitting false information to the DED (AED20,000) (approx. US$5,400). Further, the campaign can be cancelled by the DED.

    Gambling is forbidden under the Penal Code and the Civil Code. People who operate gambling establishments and participants can be fined and receive custodial sentences of up to ten years. As such it is important to consider the elements of each campaign to ensure it does not fall foul of this legislation.

    Announcing fictitious prizes or discounts and promoting adulterated, corrupt or counterfeit products amount to commercial fraud under the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law. Businesses that commit commercial fraud risk a penalty of up to two years of prison and up to AED1,000,000 (approx. US$272,000) in fines depending on the type of goods to which the violations relate.

    Other penalties may apply such as closure of premises and withdrawal of licences and the penalties may be doubled in case of repeat violations.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Restrictiveness of regulations

    The laws and regulations relating to prize promotions in the UAE - Dubai are relatively limited when compared with other heavily regulated jurisdictions.

    However, the requirements are onerous as a permit is required to run promotions, and a representative of the DED should be present in case of a prize draw, even when the draw is taking place outside of Dubai. Travel and accommodation of the DED representative should be included in the budget.

    This said, most prize promotion mechanics are allowed as long as they are not considered as gambling or betting. The steps required to avoid falling into these categories are not very restrictive.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Regularity of sanctions

    In the UAE there is generally no access to relevant cases to give details of which sanctions have been imposed. Only a small number of cases are made available to the public, and none of these are relevant to trade promotions.

    Last modified 31 Jan 2019

  • Key contacts
    Paul Allen
    Paul Allen
    Partner DLA Piper Middle East LLP [email protected] T +971 4 438 6295 View bio
    Lamiaa Kheir Bek
    Lamiaa Kheir Bek
    Legal Consultant DLA Piper Middle East LLP [email protected] T +971 4 438 6288 View bio
    Emily Southon
    Emily Southon
    Legal Director DLA Piper Middle East LLP [email protected] T +971 4 438 6223 View bio
    Elizabeth Sharkey
    Elizabeth Sharkey
    Legal Consultant DLA Piper Middle East LLP [email protected] T +971 4 438 6292


Are the terms required to be translated by law?

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

The terms and conditions of the draw/competition must be translated to the Arabic language, as per the DED requirement.