Navigating The UAE’s SMS Compliance Landscape: A Quick Guide
Navigating the UAE's SMS compliance landscape can be a challenging task for businesses operating in the Emirates. With the rise of mobile technology, it has become increasingly important for regulatory bodies to put in place measures to protect consumers from unwanted spam and malicious texts. Companies wishing to use SMS as a means to reach customers also have a responsibility to use SMS judiciously and a collective interest in keeping the platform free from the sort of traffic that will turn consumers off the platform. To ensure compliance and protect consumers, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TDRA) in the UAE has established guidelines and regulations for the use of SMS marketing which any company sending SMS messages to consumers needs to comply with. This short guide will take you through the main points to be aware of.
Broadly speaking, the regulations laid out by the TDRA for sending messages in the UAE by commercial companies fall into 3 categories, Timing, Consent, and Content. Let’s take them one by one:
To protect the consumer from receiving promotional text messages at all hours of the day and night. There is a specific window in which they are permitted to be sent. That window is defined as between 7 am and 9 pm on any day of the week. Outside of that window, it is not permitted to send marketing messages. Service messages including delivery information, appointment confirmations, or OTP delivery messages are not covered by this restriction and can be sent at any time.
In order to send marketing messages, the sender must follow these guidelines.
- Get consent (opt-in) from the recipient either over SMS or via another channel (not including a voice call.)
- State to the recipient that they are opting in to receive marketing messages. Words like ‘promotions’, ‘offers’ and ‘discounts’ may be used.
- When an opt-in message is sent over an SMS, the request may only be sent once, and if no response is received after a month, a second message may be sent. Thereafter, if the recipient does not respond, he must be labeled as unsubscribed.
- Include a free and easy way to unsubscribe (opt-out) in each marketing message.
- Keep a record of those recipients who have consented (subscribed, opted-in) for the duration that marketing messages are being sent.
For a sender to remain compliant with the regulations for sending SMS messages, the content must follow certain rules and structures:
All promotional messages must be sent from a sender name that includes the prefix- AD before the body of the text. For example AD UNIFONIC. This format will already be familiar to mobile phone users in the UAE. It enables instant recognition of a marketing message and leaves little room for confusion.
The message content itself should not break any UAE laws. No religious, political, or patriotic content is allowed and any promotional messages related to Non-Muslim religious events, etc. should be avoided. This includes any information contained within a link that the SMS is pointing to. For example, if the SMS has a link to a web page, that page also needs to be compliant with the guidelines.
How Service Providers Can Help
Using a service provider such as Unifonic to help manage your SMS campaigns can help a business to navigate these regulations and stay compliant. Unifonic’s software includes safeguards that can alert the sender to possible infringements in the content before they are sent out and can make use of templates that ensure all the correct info is present and checked prior to distribution. Our tools also ensure that nothing is sent outside of the permitted windows and our systems are regularly updated to ensure that any new guidelines or legislation are incorporated as soon as they come into force. As a final fail-safe, all content can be set up to only be released once a designated staff member in the sender organisation has read it and signed it off.
As we can see, navigating the UAE's SMS compliance landscape can be challenging for businesses but companies sending SMS messages to consumers in the UAE must pay close attention to these guidelines. Inadvertently sending out non-compliant messages can lead to costly fines or suspensions that remove the company's ability to reach their customers via SMS so it’s worth taking the time to fully understand the landscape and considering asking an experienced service provider to help.
To speak to a Unifonic expert about how we can help your business remain compliant in the UAE while harnessing the full potential of SMS, contact us today