United Arab Emirates
Trade Promotion and Advertising

Includes web links to local trade fair or show authorities and local newspapers, trade publications, radio/TV/cable information.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

The UAE, and Dubai in particular, serves as the commercial center for the region.  From late September through May, the UAE hosts a growing and almost continuous series of well-attended trade exhibitions and conferences.  These trade events attract an impressive number of exhibitors from the region and around the world, providing all international firms the opportunity to research the local market and evaluate the potential of their products or services before making a business decision. This included five commerce-certified trade shows in the UAE in 2018 fiscal year, and cover all domains, ranging from aerospace and defense to healthcare. 

Advertising plays a significant role in sales promotion.  About 40 percent of the UAE’s population is native Arabic speaking, and Arabic serves as the official language of the nation.  However, given the diverse population of the UAE and the large number of non-Arabic speaking resident, English serves as the lingua franca of the nation.  Although the language of business is English, Arabic is the official language and is required for all governmental documentation.  In addition, combined English and Arabic usage is common on signage and for many publications.  English-only promotional literature is acceptable, but those that are in both English and Arabic have a decided edge.  Arabic speakers in key decision making positions appreciate the extra effort and sensitivity to their culture that bilingual publications imply.  Arabic labeling for consumer products, especially foodstuffs, is an important requirement and an advantage in competitive marketing. Moreover, all foods and products claiming to be halal (often a prerequisite when selling to the 76 percent of Muslims making up the UAE)[1] must bear the Halal National Mark and have certification to be sold.[2]

There are a number of Arabic and English language daily newspapers and several weekly and monthly magazines that are effective consumer market vehicles.  Third-country language publications are also available.  Below is a list of English and Arabic newspapers in the UAE.  The mostly widely circulated English-Arabic newspapers are Gulf News, the National and Khaleej Times.  Emirates News Agency (WAM) is the official news agency of the UAE.  It provides daily news coverage of official and other events throughout the country.  It is also a reference for UAE news for all mass media.


English Publications Website Arabic Publications Website
7 Days (Dubai) www.7days.ae Akhbar Al Arab (Abu Dhabi) www.akhbaralarab.ae
Emirates Business 24/7 (Dubai) www.emirates247.com Al Arabia (Dubai) www.alarabiya.net
Gulf in the Media (Dubai) www.gulfinthemedia.com Al Bayan (Dubai) www.albayan.ae
Gulf News (Dubai) www.gulfnews.com Al-Ittihad (Abu Dhabi) www.alittihad.ae
Khaleej Times (Dubai) www.khaleejtimes.com Al-Khaleej (Sharjah) www.alkhaleej.ae
The Gulf Today (Dubai) http://gulftoday.ae CNBC Arabia (Dubai) www.cnbcarabia.com
The National (Abu Dhabi) www.thenational.ae Emarat Al Youm (Dubai) www.emaratalyoum.com
XPRESS (Dubai) www.xpress4me.com WAM (Emirates News Agency) www.wam.ae
The Arabian Post (Dubai) https://thearabianpost.com Al Fajr (Abu Dhabi) www.alfajr-news.net

By law, the National Media Council, which is appointed by the President, licenses all publications and issues press credentials to editors.  Laws also govern press content and proscribed subjects.  The National Media Council reviews and censors all imported media for content.  This includes establishments in free zones such as, Dubai Media City (DMC), twofour54 in Abu Dhabi and RAK Media City in Ras Al Khaimah.  These free zones are intended to attract media and marketing services, business and information services, news media, multimedia/Internet, broadcasters, music companies, and production firms.  In addition to tax benefits, companies operating in these free zones have been guaranteed that the government will not censor their news and information content, provided certain relatively liberal guidelines of taste and propriety are met. The content should not criticize leadership in the region, disparage religion, foment religious or ethnic hatred or invade a person’s privacy. U.S. firms are strongly urged to consider cultural sensitivities in any promotional activity. 

Online advertising is increasingly prevalent throughout the nation and serves as the second-largest advertising medium in terms of revenue after newspapers.  Social media is of particular importance to online advertising, UAE residents spend an estimated 3 hours and 11 minutes a day on social media; the highest average in the MENA region and 6th highest globally.[3] This is largely due to the UAE’s significant 173 percent mobile penetration rate, which is the largest globally.[4]   

Radio and television broadcasts are primarily in Arabic, English, Hindi and Urdu and can also be considered as a medium for advertising.