United Arab Emirates (UAE) SMS messaging regulations and restrictions

Like most Middle Eastern regions, the United Arab Emirates has tremendously rigid messaging laws in place, and carriers impose strict filters on all SMS messages. It can even be difficult to deliver critical or time-sensitive A2P (application to person) messages. See the full list of restrictions in the table below, or read more at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

If you want to send messages to or from the UAE, our sales advisors can help you put together a program that meets your critical business needs. We have the knowledge and expertise to help ensure that your SMS messaging program works effectively, so get in touch. You can also download the application document to get started.

 

Restriction Description
Sender ID
  • Messages will always be sent with consent from the recipient, either via SMS or a voice call. Furthermore, TRA requires that all marketing SMS programs receive and track consent with date, time, content of the consent, and the recipient’s signature.
  • Effective 13 Nov 2020, all promotional mobile marketing communication and SMS messages can only be sent using sender IDs that start with the prefix “AD-” followed by the name of the sender ID, e.g. “AD-BrandPro. Sender IDs should be no more than 11 characters, inclusive of the “AD-” prefix.
  • Messages with unregistered AD-sender IDs will be blocked. Sending marketing traffic using a sender ID without the “AD-” prefix will lead to the sender ID being blocked, and a renewal of registration for that sender ID will be necessary
  • To register your Sender ID, please contact your account manager or our support team at support@clickatell.com for the application form and process details.
Opt-out An opt-out message must be included in the SMS text and the body pushed out – for example, ‘To opt-out SMS N to XXXX‘ (English) or ‘XXXX NO?XXXX’ (Arabic), in accordance with regulations laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA). This will use 24 characters in English and 17 characters in Arabic. The number of characters for a single message will thus decrease to 136 (English) and 53 (Arabic). This regulation will be in place until further notice.

*Note: opt-out regulations are not applicable in cases where the client owns a database of opted-in customers/end-users (attested to in writing). Auto-replies send out as part of interactive campaigns need not include ‘opt-out’ text.

Message format The following character limits are for concatenated SMS text, as per international telecoms standards. Please reduce the numbers below by 24 characters for English and 17 characters for Arabic in order to include compulsory opt-out text. Note that opt-out is needed in the UAE only.

English:*
1st message: 160
2nd message: 306
3rd message: 459
4th message: 612

Arabic:*
1st message: 70
2nd message: 134
3rd message: 201
4th message: 248

*Standard length, including spaces

Note: Spaces are counted as characters both in English and Arabic messages.

Time restriction SMS messages may be sent between 7 am and 9 pm (UAE standard time) only.
Message type Messages are categorized in two ways:

  • Promotional/marketing: You must submit a formal request to have these messages approved. The request must contain specific details of the campaign, including the sender, type of recipient, and content type. The registered sender ID must contain the prefix “AD-“. Promotional messages may only be sent to customers who have opted in to receive promotional messages from the specific brand for such purposes.
  • Transactional: Prior approval is not required for these messages, however, from number (Sender ID) will be replaced by a four-digit short code.
Message content The following content is not allowed in SMS messages:

  • Adult content
  • Mobile gambling/casinos (real money)
  • Sportsbook (real money)
  • Swearing/illicit language
  • There may be restrictions on religion and political content

 

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