But it's only for Emiratis, and not open to expats.

Jojo Puthuparampil is a business news writer for Inc. Arabia.

As part of its crackdown on fake goods sold through social networks, Dubai government has launched a licensing scheme for business done over such channels.

However, the ‘e-Trader’ scheme launched by The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) is only be open to Emiratis and GCC nationals aged 18 and above.

Those holding a licence will not be permitted to open a physical store or issue visas and will bear sole responsibility for any dispute.

The DED’s business registration and licensing (BRL) department will launch an awareness campaign about the new scheme.

The campaign aims at signing up 3,000 participants by the end of the year. The pricing of the licences has not been disclosed.

It is also not clear how business activities conducted over social networks by non-GCC residents will be affected.

The scheme will have a role in promoting consumer confidence in shopping for products and services on social networking sites, Omar Bushahab, chief executive of DED’s BRL department said in a statement.

Licensing a business activity enhances consumer confidence on one hand and on the other, it removes the risk of infringement on a reserved trade name or other intellectual property, said Bushahab.

The move comes less than a week after DED closed nearly 9,000 social media accounts for selling counterfeit goods in 2016, treble the number of those shut down the previous year.

The crackdown is also aimed at eliminating practices that are harmful to e-commerce, according to DED’s commercial compliance and consumer protection (CCCP) unit.

The electronic compliance section in CCCP tracked the fraud and closed down the accounts in collaboration with owners and representatives of the brands that were subject to the infringement.

Together, the accounts were found to have more than 94.5 million followers.

Over 80% were Instagram accounts, although other platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, were also used by the violators.

The number of social networking accounts closed down in 2016 was 200% higher compared with that in 2015 as more violators resorted to social media thinking such sites are safe.

However, the Department of Economic Development maintained round-the-clock vigil and acted on complaints from trademark owners, Behzad said.

A variety of counterfeit goods including bags, perfumes, watches, cosmetics, phones and accessories were being displayed on the social networking sites, according to Behzad.

A large majority of the counterfeit products are aimed to lure women. Counterfeiting compromises the health and safety of the consumers, he said.

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