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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 with expertadvisors@clickatell.com to get the ball rolling. You can also download the application document to get started.

Restriction Description
Sender ID Please note the following:

  • Registration and activation of the from address (Sender ID) with the operator is required (an authorization form is available on request).
  • Sender IDs for marketing or promotional messaging must be prefixed by "AD-", e.g. "AD-xxxxx". The Sender ID must be registered with the AD prefix.
  • Sender IDs without the AD- prefix may only be used for transactional messaging.
  • For testing, please use the following test Sender ID: numeric short code: 4226; alphanumeric: Pizza Hut (for testing purposes only)
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.

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

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

*Standard length, including spaces

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

Time restriction SMS messages may be sent between 7am and 9pm (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 contains specific details of the campaign, including sender, type of recipient and content type.
  • 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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