Dubai is a fascinating city that has magnificent skyline and wondrous buildings and features scattered all over the city. Dubai desert is one of the most recognizable tourist hotspots in the world. You are never out of things and places that you can snap with your camera, which makes photography a highly sought after freelance career in Dubai. With the city being one of the fastest-growing commercial and industrial hubs in the world, it offers many photography opportunities that a freelance photographer in Dubai can pursue to earn money. Whether you are looking to pursue a photography career in fashion or product promotions, Dubai has some of the trendiest photoshoot venues with top scenic backdrops that will give your images the desired aura.
However, it is worth noting that your career will be subject to photography laws in the UAE. The country has some strict laws that govern how you should take and publish images. You cannot miss stories in the media about people getting arrested for violating the photography rules as well as invading other people’s rights. You should keep in mind that these laws apply to all people, whether you are a native, tourist, professional, or a novice photographer.
5 Rules Every Freelance Photographer Should Adhere To In Dubai
1. Get the necessary permissions
You will need to get permission from management to take photos in most public places such as hotels and resorts. For example, before you can start taking photos in major malls in Dubai such as Jumeirah, you should gain permission to visit the mall for a photoshoot. Most places do not allow visitors to take photos with a professional camera without approval. However, if you are visiting major tourist sites like the desert and beaches, you can take images of the view, your friends, or family on your Smartphone. If the management or security asks you to delete any of the photos you may have captured, you should comply with the directive.
2. Do not take photos of people
Privacy is taken very seriously in Dubai. It is not only wrong for a freelance photographer in Dubai to take an image of a person without consent, but it is also a crime as per the UAE cybercrime law. Individual and family privacy is protected by Article 21 of UAE Cyber Crime Law and Article 378 of the UAE Penal Code. Under the UAE Penal Code, taking a photo of someone without consent is an invasion of privacy or family life. The article also applies when you are taking photos in legally permitted circumstances. You should keep in mind that taking photos of people is a highly sensitive issue in the UAE.
As you enjoy yourself in Dubai’s main beach or other public places, you should keep off taking photos of families and women. If you are found taking photos of women and families, your camera or phone can be confiscated, and the recordings destroyed. You may also face imprisonment or be liable to pay a fine. Under Article 21 of the UAE Cyber Law, you may face an imprisonment of six months and pay a fine of Dh. 500,000 if you invade the privacy of a third party by capturing, copying, or transferring pictures.
The photography laws in the UAE not only prohibit you from taking footages of people and families without their consent, but you should not share images taken by other people without permission. Under Article 43, you do not have any right to keep, show, exhibit, distribute, communicate or publish footage of people captured in any footage without consent from the person in the picture or video. However, few exceptions apply to Article 43. The limitations will only apply if the footage was taken at a public event, if the person in the footage is a celebrity, public figure or a government official, or if the images are allowed by authorities as suitable for general interest. You should also not share or tag people online without their consent.
4. Keep off government organizations and military sites
It is against the law to capture, share, or publish images of restricted areas for security reasons. You should not capture government organizations, political buildings, military locations, and major installations in your images and videos. Always make sure that you understand what is considered a restricted area before you start taking photos, especially if you are going to the desert for camping or off-road experience. An innocent picture of a camel in the desert can turn out to be a military event and not to mention the restricted dotted areas.
5. Seek approval for airport photography
In this age of terrorism, strict measures are usually in place in all airports. You are also not likely to miss notices in Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central that remind you that taking photos while airside without approval is prohibited. The term that you should keep in mind is the airside. It refers to areas that are accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways, and ramps. However, the check-in area is not considered a restricted area. You should be careful not to capture secure environments like airports, embassies, immigration, and security facilities. Taking photographs of the restricted areas can make you go to prison for one to three months and pay a fine of up to Dh. 5000.
The Bottom Line
Although the growth of mobile phones has brought in several gray areas in the photography laws in the UAE, you should always make sure that your work adheres to every photography rule in Dubai. As a freelance photographer in Dubai, you should make sure that you understand all regulations that govern shooting, sharing and the publication of images. You should always avoid taking pictures in public to avoid infringing on the privacy rights of other people. If you happen to capture photos of people or restricted areas unintentionally, you should delete the images immediately you notice the mistake to avoid legal issues.