Dubai Drone Law


Dubai’s government and aviation sector recognised the future potential of drones early on and has been
developing the legislation, infrastructure and systems necessary to enable wider use of commercial drone
services for some years.
Drones are already in common use for specialised services within facilities and areas under the control of
drone operators or their customers. Meanwhile, a number of Dubai government departments and
authorities have been using drones extensively for specialised tasks including Dubai Police and Dubai
Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). DEWA began its Sirb (tr. fleet) programme in 2015, using drones
for topographic surveys, inspection and maintenance(5)
. It also created a drone lab in its R&D centre.
In 2017, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) was the first aviation authority worldwide to introduce a
dedicated drone tracking system, primarily to protect regulated areas, such as airports, from illegal drone
intrusions. The Sky Commander Tracking programme was developed following a number of Dubai airport
shutdowns due to drones during 2016 and followed legislation requiring all drone users (commercial and
recreational) to obtain an annual licence. The programme tracks registered and non-registered drones and
communicates with authorised drone operators in real time when there is a problem. 


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have been heralded as a game-changer for aviation,
logistics, security and defence, and a key enabler for sustainable smart cities. Commercial drone delivery
trials by Alphabet, Amazon, DHL and others taking place around the world have been heavily promoted,
including trials in Asia, Australia, Europe and in the U.S. However, aviation regulation has so far lagged
and, to-date, no city or country has been able to successfully bring comprehensive new regulations
governing BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) commercial drone usage. Meanwhile, permissions for
these urban air mobility trials have been granted mainly in the form of exemptions.
On Saturday, 4th July Dubai issued Law No. 04 of 2020, outlining new regulations governing drone activity
in the emirate. All drone use in Dubai had previously fallen under the United Arab Emirates General Civil
Aviation Authority (GCAA) regulations as laid down in UAE Federal Resolution No. 2 of 2015. The new
Dubai drone law paves the way for Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCAA) to implement its ‘Dubai
Sky Dome’ initiative, which aims to create a virtual airspace infrastructure and ecosystem for commercial
drone use in the emirate.
The new law is a significant step forwards for Dubai and could impact commercial drone development
and regulation globally. Dubai’s forward-looking technology policies and smart city status are already
world famous. In fact, the emirate’s digital government, affinity for new technologies and position as an
international business hub have already made it somewhat of a testbed for new technologies. Dubai’s
Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has already tested unmanned flying taxis with Chinese drone
startup EHang and Germany’s Volocopter with a view to launching commercial flying taxi services by
The new Dubai Sky Dome initiative looks set to underpin flying taxi services planned by the RTA, allow
commercial drone delivery services and establish Dubai as an ideal location for global drone ventures to
test, trial and launch their products and services. We can also expect the initiative to be watched closely
by policy makers, aviation regulators and smart city planners worldwide


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Dubai Drone Law