Drone Laws in the UAE

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the United Arab Emirates

Drone Regulator in the UAE: UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The UAE Ministry of Interior (MOI) has temporarily suspended all drone operations in the UAE.

UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in the UAE

The Emirates agency responsible for drone safety, GCAA, has provided several details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in the UAE?

According to GCAA, drones are allowed in the UAE, subject to GCAA regulations. However, the MOI has temporarily suspended all drone operations. Read on for more details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in the United Arab Emirates:

The UAE provides separate regulations based on types of users defined as:

a) Individual/Private (Recreational)

  • This category is for all individual/private users who want to fly UAS/drones in the UAE for leisure (hobby).

b) Organization/Operator (Commercial & Non-Commercial)

  • This category is for all organizations/operators who want to operate UAS/drones in the UAE for commercial purposes or special operations, e.g., photography, aerial survey, etc.

Specific guidance is provided in each section below.

UAS/Drones Flying Zones

  • To learn about allowable flying zones in the UAE airspace, download the Mobile App “My Drone Hub” for Android or iOS phones or download the KMZ file here.

For UAS/drones inquiries, please get in touch with the following:

  • For registration and requirements, contact the GCAA Aircraft Registry Unit by email at drones@gcaa.gov.ae or by telephone at 8004466 (Sunday – Thursday, 8 am – 2 pm)

NOTE: Dubai has additional requirements provided on the separately linked Dubai Drone Laws page.

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in the UAE

Requirements for an Individual/Private User (Recreational)(Click to Apply)

  • The user and UAS/drone shall be registered with the GCAA before flying;
  • All UAS/drones weighing 5kgs or less shall only be allowed to fly in the approved flying zone indicated in my drone hub mobile application (i.e. the green zone);
  • Camera usage is only allowed in the flying zones. Drone users must not violate relevant UAE laws while using the camera;
  • No UAS/drones shall be equipped with drop or release devices;
  • UAS/drones flying range shall be within line-of-sight and not more than 400 feet above ground level;
  • UAS/drones shall fly only during day time and in good weather conditions;
  • UAS/drones shall be used for fun and not for commercial purposes;
  • The user shall be responsible to ensure the UAS/drone is used per the manufacturer’s instructions and it is inspected before the commencement of flight;
  • No user shall fly the UAS/drones near public and/or private property;
  • No user shall fly the UAS/drones within 5 km of the UAE airports outer fence, Heliports, Helicopter landing Sites, and airfields or in controlled zones;
  • Direct radio control link shall be maintained between the user and the UAS/drones;
  • Frequency Band Restrictions (29.7-47.0 MHz max power 10 mW, or 2400-2500 MHz max power 100 mW) shall be maintained;
  • UAS/drones user shall take into consideration the effects on radio communication, interference of the frequency used;
  • UAS/drones user shall avoid collisions with people, objects, and other manned and unmanned aircraft;
  • UAS/drones user shall not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property;
  • UAS/drones owner shall be responsible to inform the GCAA through the GCAA website when he/she intends to resell the UAS/drones;
  • If a UAS/drones accident or UAS/drones loss of control has occurred, the user shall immediately report the incident/accident to the GCAA on hotline: +971506414667 and E-mail: aai@gcaa.gov.ae ;
  • All UAS/drones weighing above 5kgs and/or equipped with gas engines shall only operate within the GCAA-approved flying clubs;
  • The minimum age to fly UAS/drones weighing more than 25Kgs is 21 years;

Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in the United Arab Emirates

Registration Requirements for an Organization/Operator (Professional use)

Step 1: Register the organization and obtain the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA)

All Organizations/Operators who intend to operate UAS/drones in the UAE for professional use or special operations are required to submit the following documents:

SLA: It takes three weeks to obtain Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA), subject to meeting GCAA requirements.

Note: Obtaining UOA does not authorize the operator to fly the drone. Please follow step 2 to obtain operational approval.

Step 2: Apply for operational permission

  • Once UOA is obtained from GCAA, the organization/operator must apply for unmanned aircraft operation permission for each drone flying activity in the red zone. (click to apply)

SLA: 14 working days 

Note: (for further clarification regarding operational approval, please contact the ANA team on Tel: +97124054257 or E-Mail: ana.approval@gcaa.gov.ae)

Examples of Special Operations allowed for this category:

  • Areal Work
  • Agriculture
  • Air Show
  • Fire fighting
  • Inspection
  • Media
  • Petroleum
  • Protecting Wildlife
  • Screening
  • Surveillance
  • Survey
  • Weather forecasting

Useful published information on flying drones in the United Arab Emirates

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in the UAE…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model Aircraft, toy, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.

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Traveling with a Drone?

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone.


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9 thoughts on “Drone Laws in the UAE”

  1. We will go to Maldives from Turkey for our honeymoon. I want to shoot drone in maldives. I have a 249g dji mini se drone. I will definitely not use it in the united arab emirates. I will not open it for a single second. I want to bring the drone with me completely for maldives. but our flight is with wizz air from ankara to abu dhabi and after 2 days from there again with wizz air from abu dhabi to maldives. We will only stay at the hotel in Abu Dhabi. What should I do to take this drone with me to the maldives?

    • Declare the drone at customs and they may keep it and return to you for the flight out, or allow you to keep it sealed.

  2. Even if you are not flying in UAE & just carrying it on, we are not defined in any communications from anybody that they will catch your drone if you have it

    • We recommend contacting regulators before traveling to foreign countries. We also recommend declaring drones to custom officials when entering any destination.

  3. Sharjah Customs confiscated my drone while traveling back from Georgia. Is carrying a drone with oneself is also a crime? I don’t know what to do now; they gave me five days to claim it 3 days already past with 2 days only sitting outside their office; they make you sit indefinitely without giving proper justification {update they are waiting for update from national security to give me my drone back}

    • Elvie, it’s our understanding that all drones are temporarily grounded unless approved by the appropriate authorities.


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