The drones market in the UAE is currently among the most advanced and developed in the Middle East, fueled by progressive development and implementation of various government programmes like the “Drones for Good” awards.
Drones, sometimes referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), carry out tasks that range from the mundane to the ultra-dangerous. These little aircrafts can be found on various rescue missions, as well as delivering groceries at your doorstep — and almost everywhere in between.
Drones in Dubai are widely utilized for both commercial and personal use by photographers, videographers and other creative professionals. A camera drone is a fun way to explore a new style of photography and video production: aerial imaging. Taking photos and making movies from high up in the air, or flying a small drone through tight spaces, nets a very different look than using a smartphone or handheld camera for recording. An overhead shot with a camera on a drone can capture the magnificence of the cityscape or natural landscape (and there is a lot of capture in the UAE) in a much more appealing fashion than the usual two-dimensional photographs from more limited vantage points. But what are the requirements for piloting a drone in UAE?
United Arab Emirates Drone Regulations
According to the United Arab Emirates’ national aviation authority, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), flying a drone is legal in the United Arab Emirates, but there is a defined a set of rules and regulations for drone owners, listed below:
Recreational Flights (i.e., Flying for Fun):
- The user and the drone must be registered with the GCAA before flying;
- All drones weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds) or less shall only be allowed to fly in the approved flying zone (i.e the green zone);
- No video or image capturing devices shall be used when flying the drone (Drone pilots with an Emirates Id that is registered with the GCAA can shoot videos and take photographs using drones in locations permitted and at heights specified by the local authorities. Use the UAE My Drone Hub app, available in the Android and App store, to determine where you may and may not take photos or record video with a drone);
- No drones shall be equipped with drop or release devices;
- Drones’ flying range shall be within line-of-sight and not more than 122 meters (400 feet) above ground level;
- Drones shall fly only during daytime and in good weather conditions;
- Drones shall not be flown near public and/or private property;
- Drones shall now be flown within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of UAE airports outer fence, Heliports, Helicopter landing Sites, and airfields or in controlled zones;
- Direct radio control link shall be maintained between the drone pilot and the drone while in flight;
- Drones pilots shall avoid collisions with people, objects, other manned and unmanned aircraft;
- Drones user shall not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property;
- Drone pilots are responsible for informing the GCAA through the GCAA website when they intend to resell their drone(s);
- If a drones accident or loss of control occurs the pilot must immediately report the incident/accident to the GCAA;
- The minimum age to fly drones weighing more than 25 kilograms (55 pounds) is 21 years.
Commercial Drones (i.e., Flying for Work)
- Commercial drone operators must pass the UAS GCAA exam;
- All Organizations/Operators who intend to operate drones in the UAE for commercial or special operations are required to hold a GCAA drone Registration Certificate. Special Operations include these types of uses: Aerial Work, Agriculture, Air Show, Fire fighting, Inspection, Media, Petroleum, Surveillance, Weather forecasting;
- All Organizations/Operators holding a GCAA drone Registration Certificate are required to obtain operational approval before commencement of each flight.
For more information on the United Arab Emirates’ drone laws, see this page on the GCAA website. Make sure to check for regulations or limitations on drone use specific to each emirate.
Drone Laws in Dubai
In addition to the rules for RPAS established by the GCAA above, anyone who wishes to fly a drone in Dubai must also follow the rules for RPAS established by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA).
To fly a drone in Dubai, you must:
- Register for an operator training certificate program endorsed by the DCAA to provide RPAS certifications. Sanad Academy and Exponent are two approved training providers;
- Register your drone with the DCAA. The following documents are required at registration: Company name and address, company trade/commercial license, name and contact details of RPAS, operator’s Emirates ID, passport copy with visa page (non-national), passport size photo (white background), RPAS type/model, RPAS photo, RPAS serial number, operator training certificate, insurance, national ID for tourist, flight booking for tourist. Complete DCAA registration here. Apply as a tourist here;
- Obtain a no objection certificate from DCAA. Apply here;
- Avoid collisions with people, objects and other aircraft;
- Do not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property;
- Do not operate your drone over congested areas or over public or private properties;
- Do not operate your drone near, around, or over airports;
- Do not fly in no-fly zones. Use the UAE Drone Fly Zone Map app, available in the Android and iTunes app store, to determine where you may and may not fly your drone.
Registering a drone in Dubai or any other emirate in the UAE is mandatory for everyone. From private drone owners to commercial drones, each one has their own rules and regulations.
All drone pilots in Dubai should remember that actions related to the use of unregistered drones, as well as piloting drones without documents that confirms the qualification level of the pilot, can be prosecuted according to the law of the Emirate of Dubai.
We strongly suggest to follow the laws and regulations in terms of aviation and airspace safety, and have lots of fun piloting your drones!