Are you wondering if you can fly a drone in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or the rest of the UAE? Well, you are not alone! Flying a drone in Dubai is every enthusiast’s dream: huge skyscrapers, highways and busy multi-lane avenues, fountains, lakes and a plethora of incredible landmarks to shoot and photograph. What about the iconic Palm Jumeirah island, which is at its best when viewed from above? And the fabulous desert dunes? But before you let your imagination run wild… is it legal to fly a drone in Dubai?
This guide to the UAE Drone Laws and Dubai Drone Rules and regulations is intended to shed some light on the do’s and don’ts regarding drones in the UAE. Regulations change fast, so you should always make sure you double check with the authorities, but which ones? In this guide we will try to give you some useful tips to better understand the drone rules of Dubai and the rest of the UAE.
What you will find in this guide to Dubai & UAE Drone Laws:
- Can you fly a drone in Dubai?
- Can you fly a drone in Abu Dhabi or other cities in UAE?
- Can you take a drone to Dubai or other cities in the UAE?
- UAE & Dubai Drone Law: What licenses and permits do you need to fly a drone?
- FAQs about UAE Drone Laws
Can you fly a drone in Dubai?
The short answer is no. Unless you are a professional resident in the UAE who needs to fly a drone for proven work or business reasons. The UAE drone law and local regulations are very stringent and constantly evolving.
While many people have managed to fly their own drone and get footage in the past, it is actually subject to certain requirements and permits. First, local drone rules require mandatory drone registration with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). An unregistered drone risks not being able to be imported into the country, and could be confiscated. But registration is only possible for UAE citizens and residents, so without an Emirati ID you will not be able to register your drone and get the necessary licenses.
So, it is impossible for a tourist to legally fly their drone in Dubai. It should be specified that following repeated violations of the law, the UAE Ministry of Interior has completely banned all flight operations in the UAE, including those of drones. This has been since January 2022. So currently it is forbidden for anyone to fly a drone in the UAE, including residents and citizens. To fly a drone (or any other aircraft) you need prior authorization from the UAE Ministry of the Interior, which is only issued as an exception for proven business reasons.
Can you fly a drone in Abu Dhabi or other cities in UAE?
The rules that apply to Dubai mostly apply to other emirates, including Abu Dhabi. The main regulations are at national government level, issued by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), therefore valid throughout the UAE.
The drone ban issued in 2022 also concerns the entire territory of the UAE, as it was not issued by a local authority, but by the Ministry of the Interior of the UAE, therefore it is valid throughout the country.
Can you take a drone to Dubai or other cities in the UAE?
The UAE Drone Laws requires that every drone must be registered by the owner. Registration is done with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which regulates civil aviation and is the authority responsible for aviation safety in the country.
Registration is possible for organizations and individuals, provided that the applicant is a resident or citizen of the UAE, holding an Emirati ID. In the absence of mandatory registration, the authorities could confiscate the drone. The same could happen when trying to import a drone into the UAE.
It is practically impossible for a tourist to comply with local regulations, so it is advisable not to attempt to bring a drone to Dubai or any other city in the UAE. Even if some succeed, the risk of confiscation is real. Those in transit should leave the drone in checked baggage for the final destination, provided the airline allows it. Others, they’d better leave it at home.
UAE & Dubai Drone Laws: What licenses and permits do you need to fly a drone?
Since January 2022, a special authorization from the UAE Ministry of the Interior is required to fly a drone in the country. So there is currently a total ban on drones across the UAE.
Normal regulation also requires owners and operators to obtain permits and licenses to fly their drones. The first requirement is registration with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), furthermore compliance with some requirements for the drone is required, such as weight limits, the obligation to fly on sight and at a maximum altitude of 120 meters, the flying ban in no-fly zones and areas around airports, military bases, police stations and other government buildings.
When flying a drone in the UAE you should use the My Drone Hub app, available for Android and iOS, which reports no-fly zones and other flight restrictions updated in real time. Emirati ID is required to operate the drone and use the app.
Citizens and residents of the UAE can fly the drone for fun or take photos and videos (except in no-fly zones and on private property) by complying with the requirements of the UAE Drone Laws. To fly a drone in Dubai it is also necessary to obtain a no objection certificate from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). Permit fees in Dubai are around AED 120.
For commercial and professional operations it is necessary to register as a professional operator with the GCAA and obtain specific licenses for each individual project or event. Costs for permits vary between approximately AED 1500-5000.
Again, currently these permits do not grant you the right to fly your drone as long as the ban is in effect.
FAQs about UAE Drone Laws
Are drones allowed in the UAE?
The short answer is yes, but their use is heavily regulated. Until the beginning of 2022 it was possible for enthusiasts to fly their drone in some permitted areas (outside the no-fly zones, which were easily identifiable using a special app). However, you still had to comply with a number of legal requirements, including registering with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and obtaining a permit from the Dubai authorities, which was only possible for UAE residents.
As many people have broken the rules, the UAE Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has issued a directive banning all flight operations over UAE territory, including those with drones. This means that currently it is not allowed to fly a drone in Dubai, nor in the rest of the UAE. Only professionals who need to fly drones for work or commercial reasons are allowed to request a special permit from the MOI.
Are you allowed to bring a drone into Dubai?
When importing a drone into Dubai or the rest of the UAE you would be required to register it with the relevant authorities, which is only possible for UAE residents. Hence, we do not recommend attempting to bring a drone to the UAE as a tourist.
The reason is simple: although many travelers have managed to enter the country with a drone without problems, the risk is real. If an official wants to be harsh with you, he can, and he can confiscate your drone. Which means it’ll be gone, you won’t get it back on the way out!
Even if you manage to import your drone, do not try to use it without the appropriate permissions. The law in the UAE is strictly enforced!
Is it allowed to bring a drone into the UAE when in transit to another destination?
Yes, you can safely carry your drone in checked baggage as long as the airline allows it. You shouldn’t take it out of the airport (transit area) anyway.
Are you planning your trip to the UAE? These tips may come in handy:
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN ABU DHABI
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN DUBAI
USEFUL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
GUIDE TO THE BEST CAR RENTALS IN DUBAI AND ABU DHABI
Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended as simple tourist information for those traveling to the UAE, has no legal value and does not represent legal advice or anything similar. Therefore, they may not be promptly updated if the law or local regulations change. You are solely responsible for your actions and you should inform yourself thoroughly before taking your drone to Dubai or elsewhere or operating your drone anywhere in the UAE. In no event can we be held responsible for anything you do based on information provided by us. You can find more information on the official websites of the UAE Government and the UAE Ministry of the Interior.