A guide to photography restrictions in Dubai

Freelance photography can be a lucrative and fulfilling career for those with a passion for capturing beautiful images. However, like any other profession, it is important to understand the restrictions and regulations that may apply in different locations. In Dubai, there are specific guidelines that freelance photographers must adhere to in order to work legally and avoid any potential legal issues.

First and foremost

First and foremost, it is important to note that freelance photographers in Dubai must obtain a licence from the Department of Economic Development (DED) in order to operate legally. This licence is known as the “freelance permit,” and it allows photographers to offer their services to clients without being employed by a specific company. In order to obtain this permit, photographers must first obtain a trade licence and register their business with the DED.

Restrictions for freelance

One of the main restrictions for freelance photographers in Dubai is that they are not allowed to work with models or offer portrait photography services without obtaining a special permit from the Dubai Film and Television Commission (DFTC). This permit is known as the “modelling permit,” and it is required for any professional photography that involves models, whether they are fully clothed or partially naked.

In addition to the modelling permit, photographers who wish to work with models must also adhere to the DFTC’s Code of Ethics, which outlines guidelines for working with models and ensures that they are treated with respect and professionalism. This includes provisions for the use of makeup and wardrobe, as well as provisions for breaks and rest periods during shoots.

Another restriction for a freelance photographer in Dubai is that they are not allowed to photograph certain sensitive or restricted locations without obtaining permission from the relevant authorities. This includes government buildings, military bases, and other secure facilities. It is important for photographers to respect these restrictions and obtain the necessary permissions before attempting to photograph these types of locations.

Freelance photography

Freelance photographers in Dubai

Freelance photographers in Dubai are also subject to the country’s strict defamation laws, which prohibit the publication of any material that could damage an individual’s reputation or dignity. This includes both written and visual materials, and photographers should be mindful of these laws when capturing and sharing their images.

One way that freelance photographers in Dubai can ensure that they are operating within the legal guidelines is by working with reputable clients and agencies. Many reputable clients and agencies will have processes in place to ensure that all necessary permits and permissions are obtained before a shoot takes place, and working with these clients can help photographers to avoid any legal issues.

It is also important for freelance photographers in Dubai to be familiar with the local cultural norms and customs, as certain subjects or themes may be considered taboo or offensive in the local culture. Photographers should be respectful of these norms and avoid capturing images that could be considered inappropriate or offensive.


Freelance photography in Dubai can be a rewarding and exciting career, but it is important for photographers to understand and comply with the local regulations and restrictions. By obtaining the necessary licences and permits, respecting cultural norms and customs, and working with reputable clients and agencies, photographers can operate legally and avoid any potential legal issues. So, freelance photographers should always be aware of the restrictions and guidelines that apply in Dubai and take steps to ensure that they are operating within the law.

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