Spas in the United Arab Emirates Fined for Misleading Ads

ResortSpas in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are alarmed over advertising violations issued by the Ministry of Health. Spas must avoid using superlatives and other "exaggerated words" in their advertisements or they will face Dh1,000 (US$272) fines. Officials have written to the spas telling them to register their advertisements and pay Dh500 a month for licences before running them. Spa websites also come under the regulations.

In the UAE, spa treatements are subject to the same regulations as medical treatments. Dr Jameela Salman, the head of licensing and medical advertising, said the regulations ensure that spas do not exaggerate their services and make claims they can not back up. Spas should not say they are the best, the first, or give guarantees. Words such as medical, weight loss, slimming or health should be avoided. They can say they are of a high standard, but not the highest." Dr Salman said. Salman told Leisure Manager that at least 10 operations have been penalized since February.

Although the ministry said it had issued a booklet explaining the regulations, many spas said they had not been contacted and were unaware of the regulations. "We found out when we got the first threat," said one spa owner Basaam Saab. "They sent us a fax saying that we hadn't got permission for our advertisements." Hilton Dubai Jumeirah and Hilton Dubai Creek public relations manager Sana Khan said she found out about the regulations from an industry meeting her spa manager had attended.