How to Set up a Publishing/E-Publishing Business in the UAE

For those contemplating entering the world of publishing, particularly ePublishing, the landscape teems with potential and promise. In the UAE, the ePublishing sector is experiencing a surge in growth, fueled by evolving consumer preferences towards digital content consumption. With a projected revenue of US$76.99 million in 2024 and a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 1.73% expected between 2024 and 2027, the ePublishing market in the UAE represents a stable and maturing landscape for digital content services and publishing endeavours.

However, establishing an ePublishing company requires strategic foresight, encompassing various aspects such as content creation, distribution channels, marketing, and copywriting. Within this dynamic realm, opportunities abound for writers, marketers, and digital innovators alike.

Here are the business activities that you can select under your license when establishing your Publishing/E Publishing business:

5810.00 Publishing of books, periodicals and other publishing activities

Publishing of books, periodicals, and other activities involves creating and distributing written and visual content to the public. This includes books, newspapers, magazines, directories, mailing lists, and various printed materials like photos, engravings, postcards, timetables, forms, and posters. These activities require intellectual creativity and are typically protected by copyright. Ultimately, publishing serves to share knowledge, entertainment, and artistic expression with audiences globally.

Third-party Approval: This activity needs approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license.

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 5810.00 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 5810.00 is exempt from this requirement.

5811.00 Book publishing

This specifically refers to the process of producing and distributing printed books or electronic books (e-books) for public consumption. This encompasses various stages, from acquiring manuscripts or content to editing, designing, printing, and distributing the finished product to bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and other outlets. Book publishing involves coordinating with authors, editors, designers, printers, distributors, and retailers to bring a book from concept to the hands of readers. 

  • 5811.01- Publishing of books, brochures, leaflets and similar publications, including publishing of dictionaries and encyclopaedias
    This represents the publishing of various printed materials such as books, brochures, leaflets, dictionaries, and encyclopaedias. It covers the entire process from content creation to printing and distribution.
  • 5811.02- Publishing of atlases, maps and charts
    This category involves the publishing of geographical resources such as atlases, maps, and charts. It includes both printed and digital formats used for navigation, education, and reference purposes.
  • 5811.03- Publishing of audiobooks
    This refers to the production and distribution of audio recordings of books, allowing consumers to listen to literary works rather than reading them. Audio books are popular for their accessibility and convenience, particularly for audiences on the go.
  • 5811.04- Publishing of encyclopaedias etc. on CD-ROM
    This code pertains to the publishing of encyclopaedias and similar reference materials distributed on CD-ROMs. It involves compiling comprehensive information in digital format for easy access and retrieval.
  • 5811.11- E-books publishing
    E-book publishing involves the creation, formatting, and distribution of books in digital format, typically for consumption on e-readers, tablets, and smartphones. It offers readers the flexibility to access a wide range of titles electronically.
  • 5811.14 Book Publishing (Distribution)
    This category focuses on the distribution aspect of book publishing. It involves the logistics of getting printed books from publishers to retailers, wholesalers, libraries, and other distribution channels.
  • 5811.15 Visual Recorded Media Distribution
    This refers to the distribution of visual recorded media such as DVDs, Blu-rays, and other video formats. It encompasses the wholesale and retail distribution of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and other visual content.
  • 5811.16 Audio Recorded Media Distribution
    This category involves the distribution of audio-recorded media such as CDs, vinyl records, and digital audio files. It includes music albums, podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio content distributed through various channels.
  • 5811.17 Online Publishing of Audio Books
    This represents the online distribution and streaming of audiobooks through digital platforms and streaming services. It allows users to access and listen to a vast library of audiobooks over the internet.
  • 5811.18 E-books publishing
    This specifically focuses on the publishing aspect of e-books. It includes activities related to acquiring, formatting, and distributing electronic books to consumers through digital platforms and online retailers.

Exclusions for this business activity are:

  • Production of globes
  • Publishing of advertising material
  • Publishing of music and sheet books
  • Activities of independent authors

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for these business activities

Filing of Economic Substance Return: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

5812.00 Publishing of Directories and Mailing Lists

This refers to the production and dissemination of organised lists of information, often in the form of databases, that are protected in their presentation but not in the content they contain. These lists can be distributed in printed or electronic formats, providing valuable reference resources for various purposes. 

  • 5812.01 – Publishing of mailing lists
    This category involves the creation and distribution of lists containing contact information for individuals or organisations, typically used for marketing, communication, or research purposes. Mailing lists may include postal addresses, email addresses, or other contact details.
  • 5812.02 – Publishing of telephone books
    This pertains to the production and distribution of telephone directories containing listings of telephone numbers and corresponding names and addresses. Telephone books are used for reference and communication purposes, assisting individuals in locating contact information for businesses and individuals.
  • 5812.03 – Publishing of other directories and compilations
    This encompasses the publishing of various other types of directories and compilations beyond mailing lists and telephone books. Examples include legal directories, case law compilations, pharmaceutical compendia, industry directories, and specialised reference materials. These directories provide organised access to specific types of information, facilitating research, decision-making, and information retrieval in various fields.

Third-party Approval: Activities 5812.00, 5812.01, 5812.02, and 5812.03 require third-party approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license.

Filing of Economic Substance Return: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

5813.00 Publishing of Newspapers, Journals and Periodicals

This involves the creation, production, and dissemination of various printed or digital publications aimed at providing news, information, entertainment, and analysis to the public.

  • 5813.01 – Publishing of newspapers, including advertising newspapers
    This category includes the production and distribution of newspapers, which deliver current news, features, and advertisements to a broad audience. It encompasses both general-interest newspapers and specialised publications, including advertising newspapers focused primarily on classified ads and promotional content.
  • 5813.02 – Publishing of periodicals and other journals, including publishing of radio and television schedules
    This involves the publishing of periodicals, magazines, and other journals that cover specific topics or interests. It includes a diverse range of publications, such as lifestyle magazines, scholarly journals, trade publications, and entertainment guides. Additionally, it includes the publication of radio and television schedules, which provide listings of programming for broadcast media.
  • 5813.04 – Digital Newspaper Publishing, News Agency, Specialty Communication, and PR
    This category pertains to the digital publishing of newspapers and news agencies, as well as specialised communication and public relations services. It involves delivering news content and communication services through digital platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and social media channels.
  • 5813.05 – News services through websites
    This involves providing news and information services exclusively through online platforms, including websites and news portals. It encompasses digital news outlets, online magazines, blogs, and other web-based publications that deliver news content to Internet users.

Third-party Approval: Activities 5813.00, 5813.01, 5813.02, 5813.04 and 5813.05 require third-party approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license.

Filing of Economic Substance Return: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

5819.00 Other Publishing Activities

“Other Publishing Activities” encompass a diverse range of publishing endeavours that extend beyond traditional books, newspapers, and periodicals. This class includes various activities aimed at creating, distributing, and disseminating content across different mediums, both in print and online. 

  • 5819.01 – Publishing (including online)
    This category involves the publishing of a wide array of printed or digital materials, including catalogues, photos, engravings, postcards, greeting cards, forms, posters, reproductions of works of art, advertising material, and other printed matter. It encompasses the creation and distribution of various visual and textual content for informational, promotional, or artistic purposes.
  • 5819.02 – Online Publishing and Electronic Content
    This pertains to the online publishing of content and electronic media, including digital books, magazines, articles, blogs, videos, and multimedia presentations. It involves creating, formatting, and distributing digital content through websites, online platforms, and electronic devices.
  • 5819.03 – Online publishing of statistics or other information
    This involves the online dissemination of statistical data, reports, and other informational materials through digital platforms. It includes publishing statistical databases, research findings, and analytical reports online for public access and reference.
  • 5819.04 – Publications and media Materials E-Trading
    This category encompasses electronic trading and distribution of publications and media materials through online platforms and e-commerce channels. It involves selling and trading digital publications, media content, and related materials through electronic means.
  • 5819.05 – Gaming Publisher
    This involves the publishing and distribution of gaming content, including video games, mobile games, computer games, and gaming-related publications. It encompasses activities related to game development, licensing, publishing, and distribution within the gaming industry.

This class excludes:

  • retail sale of software
  • publishing of advertising newspapers
  • online provision of software (application hosting and application service provisioning)

Third-party Approval: Activities 5819.00,  5819.01, 5819.02, 5819.03, 5819.04, and 5819.05 need third-party approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license.

Filing of Economic Substance Return: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: These business activities are exempt from this requirement.

6202.11 – Digital content services

Digital content services refer to a range of activities involved in planning, designing, implementing, and supporting computer systems that facilitate the creation, management, and distribution of digital content. These services play a crucial role in enabling publishers to leverage technology effectively to produce, distribute, and monetize their content in digital formats.

Exclusions from this class include activities such as the separate sale of computer hardware or software, separate installation of mainframe and similar computers, separate installation of personal computers, and separate software installation.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 6202.11 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 6202.11 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.13 – Publications of brochures & leaflets

Publications of brochures & leaflets refer to the creation, production, and distribution of printed or digital advertising materials designed to promote products, services, or events. These brochures and leaflets, whether in print or digital form, are essential tools for businesses to convey key information, showcase products or services, and engage their target audience effectively.

Exclusions from this class include activities such as the publishing of advertising material, production of commercial messages for radio, television, and film, public-relations activities, market research, graphic design activities, advertising photography, and convention and trade show organisation, as these activities fall under separate classifications and may involve distinct services and expertise.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.13 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.13 is exempt from this requirement.


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Afreen Razak

Meet Afreen Razak, a seasoned marketing professional with a strong emphasis on content writing and a decade of experience in the industry. With a specialization in social media, brand development, and digital marketing, Afreen possesses a well-rounded skill set that drives impactful marketing strategies. With her exceptional content writing skills, Afreen crafts compelling narratives that captivate audiences and align with brand messaging. She has a keen eye for storytelling and knows how to leverage persuasive language to engage and convert target customers. Her proficiency in crafting SEO-friendly content ensures maximum visibility and organic reach.

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