After The Fatal Attack In Abu Dhabi, UAE Bans Recreational Drones

General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) regulates civil aviation and provides designated aviation services while maintaining safety standards. It works to strengthen the aviation industry in the UAE and its upper space (air). Also, Civil Aviation Law ensures aviation safety in the UAE’s airspace. 

GCAA makes regulations on flying drones and practicing recreational aerial sports and activities. Regulations include licensing and registration procedures, identification of no-flying zones. It also specifies rules for pilots flying the drones and penalties in case of violation. The regulations ensure safety in the air and on land as well. It also protects user data and their privacy. 

Previously, flying drones near, around, and over airports were not allowed as per the regulations set by GCAA and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). Federal and municipal authorities also forbid flying drones over residential areas to protect people’s privacy. 

In order to fly a drone in Dubai, the individual had to obtain a no-objection certificate from the DCAA. All drones were needed to be registered with the GCAA. Each registered drone was to be digitally issued an ESMA certificate to show that it meets the national standards and can be legally sold in the country. 

Emirates ID holders who are registered with GCAA were able to shoot videos and take photographs using drones in permitted locations and at heights specified by the local authorities. The concerned app described the permitted areas immediately for the purpose of photography. There are certain free fly zones, where people were permitted to fly drones up to a height of 400 feet.  

Under new rules issued by the Ministry of Interior on Saturday, a ban has been put in place for using drones in the country. This includes both airports and seaports and anyone found flying drones in the UAE may be imprisoned or handed hefty fines. 

The ban came into effect after coordination with the General Authority for Civil Aviation. The ban includes light sports aircraft and breaching the rules might lead to imprisonment between six months and five years. Also, the violators can be fined up to Dh100,000. 

The decision came after the misuse of drones recently. Authorities said some people were not following the rules and used drones in areas where these were not permitted. The Ministry of Interior introduced the ban to ensure the safety of lives and property. 

Companies that have work contracts, commercial or advertising projects that depend on filming usage of drones should obtain a permit from the concerned authorities to get exceptions and permissions. 

Recently, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority also stopped giving the no-objection certificates and permits to fly drones in the emirate until further notice. In Dubai, drone operators need a certificate from the authority to fly automatic aerial vehicles. 

The ministry asked the public and the community to abide by the directives it issued jointly with the General Authority for Civil Aviation for the safety of lives and property. MoI reminded users that anyone performing these activities during that period and disregarding the rules will be subject to legal liabilities. 

Article 176 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021 on the Promulgation of Crimes and Punishment Code, describes that whoever flies over areas of the UAE’s territory that violate the regulations of ban shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than six months and not exceeding five years and a fine of no less than Dhs100,000, or either of these two penalties. The attempt to do so shall also be punished by imprisonment or fine. 

The United Arab Emirates has banned the flying of drones in the country for recreation after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed a fatal drone attack on an oil facility and major airport in the country. A rare drone and missile strike on the capital of Abu Dhabi blew up several fuel tankers and killed three people. 

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