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The Ministry of Interior (MOI) of the United Arab Emirates has recently introduced a complete ban on the use of drones and light sports aircraft in the UAE. The ban applies to owners, practitioners as well enthusiasts of drones and applies to both air and sailing spots. The new rules have been introduced in coordination with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which is the federal regulatory authority responsible for civil aviation in the UAE including observing of the safety regulations.
Objectives of GCCA:
The GCCA has multifold objectives to ensure safety measures in the realm of civil aviation, including practicing recreational aerial sports and activities such as flying drones. The said objectives include, amongst others:
- licensing and registration procedures
- identification of no-flying zones
- imposing penalties for violations
- regulations determining airworthiness
- protection of user data and privacy
Commercial Use of Drones:
The UAE generally provides separate regulations based on types of users such as:
- Recreational use – by individuals including sporting enthusiasts; and
- Commercial Use- which could include organization or operators such as advertising or film industry, who require to operate drones in the UAE for commercial purposes or for special purposes such as photography, aerial survey, etc.
However, the new rules have imposed a complete ban on the use of drones in the country, which thereby includes commercial usage as well. Such commercial entities, especially those who have work contracts that necessitate the usage of drones, are currently required to take special exemptions from the concerned authorities in order to resume the activity. The imposed ban is in effect from 22, January 2022 until further notice. If the ban is removed at any given point in time, the general regulation concerning the flying of drones would still apply, which disallow flying drones near, around and over airports. In addition, the municipality rules of various emirates disallow flying drones near residential areas for the protection of the privacy of the residents.
In its notification, the MOI clarifies that the ban has been imposed with the objective to ensure the safety of life and property in the UAE, and to preserve the same from negative practices. The new changes are part of the official safeguards incorporated in light of the recent incident in the capital, wherein drones were used to target a key petroleum facility in blatant violation of international security laws. By imposing the new rules, the UAE has acted swiftly and precisely to ensure complete protection of life and liberty of all. The UAE has also recently introduced changes to its criminal law that now ban carrying of sharp objects or tools. The UAE’s legal system remains focused on providing a safe environment for all, and the newly introduced rules will in all certainty ensure heighten security in the country.