Laws Governing Drones in the UAE

22 Mar 2022

Drones have become one of the primary research sources, capturing images, gathering and sending samples, monitoring activities, and recreational purposes worldwide. Different countries have their own laws and regulations regarding the lawful flying of drones over their airspace.

In the UAE, flying drones is legalized through special laws and regulations. The general public and organizations should be aware of these rules set by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (the GCAA) before operating drones in the UAE’s airspace. The GCAA is the governing body of all civil aviation-related matters in the UAE. It is responsible for the safe regulation of aviation operations. The GCAA regulates drones’ flying and has introduced regulations on the flying of drones and the practice of recreational and sports activities via drones. The drone owner must register and get a license from the GCAA online on their website for the lawful flying of drones.

Following are the general rules and requirements for the drone users for recreational activities:

  • The user and drones must be registered to the GCAA before flying;
  • All drones weighing 5kgs or less shall only be allowed to fly in the approved flying zone (i.e., the green zone);
  • The users shall follow the UAE laws; they should not use cameras/drones outside the approved flying zones and specified altitudes;
  • Drones shall not be equipped with a drop or release devices;
  • Drones flying range shall be within line-of-sight and not more than 400 feet above ground level;
  • Drones shall fly only during the daytime and in the right weather conditions to avoid any risk of accident or loss;
  • Drones registered for recreational purposes shall not be used for commercial purposes;
  • Before flying a drone, the pilot/user shall inspect the drone for safe flight and shall fly drones under the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Users should respect the general public’s privacy and shall not fly drones in private and residential areas;
  • Users shall not fly drones within 5 km (3.1 miles) of UAE airports' outer fence, Heliports, Helicopter landing Sites, and airfields or in controlled zones;
  • While flying drones, a direct radio control link must be maintained between the pilot and drones;
  • Drones user/pilot shall avoid collisions with people, objects, other manned and unmanned aircraft;
  • The effects on radio communication; interference of the frequency used should be taken into consideration while flying drones, the maximum frequency restrictions (29.7-47.0 MHz max power 10 mW, or 2400-2500 MHz max power 100 mW) shall be maintained;
  • Drones pilots shall not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property;
  • owner/user shall inform the GCAA through the GCAA website if the owner intends to resell the drones;
  • The minimum age for flying drones weighing above 25 kgs is 21 years; and
  • Drone users shall immediately report any accident or incident of loss of control over the drone to the GCAA on the GCAA hotline: +971506414667 or via email on the official email address of the GCAA [email protected].

For drones’ professional/commercial use

 the operator/ organization shall get registered to the GCAA, obtain the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA), and obtain security clearance from the GCAA. The operators/organizations shall subscribe to the GCAA’s e-Publication service. The Dubai government has issued Law Number. 4 of 2020 (the Law), charted regulations for drones’ operation in Dubai. The Law’s primary objective is to reduce the risk associated with drone activity, specifying the responsibilities and duties of the relevant authorities. And to make Dubai a drone manufacturing hub. The Law is applicable to all drones’ activities in Dubai and its free zone, excluding drones used for military purposes. However, they should coordinate with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) to ensure safety regulations. The DCAA is authorized to oversee the Law’s implementation, monitoring, and managing operation/activities in line with the federal and international laws. The DCAA can control/approve the airspace for drone activities such as issuing permits, designating the area, and specifying height for flying drones. All matters related to drones flying in Dubai require a license from the DCAA, and drone owners need to register it with the DCAA. The drone users can approach the aviation lawyers in Dubai who specialize in a variety of aspects of aviation laws in the region. Strict penalties and fines would be inflicted against the persons who endanger the airspace’s safety and security by breaching the provisions of the Law.