Dubai is one of the richest cities in the world. By money, yes, but also in its abundance of amazing photo opportunities.
It’s such a breathtaking city to look at and this makes the mind wonder… “Can you fly a drone in Dubai?” We asked Josh from A Backpacker’s World to find out and create this ultimate guide to flying a drone in Dubai.
So, can you fly a drone in Dubai?
In one sentence, yes you can fly a drone in Dubai, as long as you are a UAE national or EID holder.
However, you require a certificate and follow Dubai’s rules for drone flying, which we will go into later. Regardless, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) permitting the usage of drones is great news for drone owners and operators in the UAE alike.
The opportunity to capture this city on a drone is unmissable; just look how breathtaking the footage is…
Getting your drone into the UAE
Unfortunately, the rules around flying a drone are extremely unclear and lead you in a constant cycle of endless impossibilities. For example, the link to the GCAA on the UAE government website is broken. A lot of the rules are also impossible to follow. Especially as a tourist, if you are not a UAE national or resident with an EID card, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to fly your drone in Dubai.
As per the GCAA website, “Emirates ID holders who are registered with GCAA can shoot videos and take photographs using drones in locations permitted and at heights specified by the local authorities. The app facilitates the immediate identification of areas where photography is permitted.”
To get your drone into Dubai, you must register it with both the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) AND the DCAA. However, you cannot register a drone without being a UAE national or having a UAE residence visa. As a tourist, you will have neither; therefore, flying a drone in Dubai will not be possible.
Don’t worry if you are having a stopover in Dubai; your drone can remain in checked luggage, but it must not be brought out and used in Dubai. Please also be aware of your airline’s policies around travelling with drone batteries; some of them are strict on how they are to be carried.
If you are not a UAE resident, there is a small possibility you can be granted permission if you work for a UAE-based company such as one of the many airlines. Other than this, it’s unlikely that you will fly a drone in Dubai as a tourist. Which really sucks 🙁
Licenses required for drone flights in Dubai
On top of these already strict regulations for who Dubai permit to register a drone. There are licenses required actually to fly a drone. These are known as “no objection certificates”, and you can apply through the DCAA site. These are valid for one year, and you must pass a Pilot Permit test. This consists of a theoretical and practical side, and again, this is valid for one year.
Once you have your GCAA registration, DCAA registration, Pilot Permit and no objection certificate, you are good to go. However, please know where you can fly your drone and be familiar with the rules associated with flying a drone in Dubai.
Rules for flying a drone in Dubai
Furthermore, on top of the registrations and licenses required, Dubai also has a very strict set of rules for flying a drone there. The most important rules are:
- You must keep a direct line of sight
- Drones should not be flown above 120 metres (roughly 400 feet)
- Drones should not be equipped with drop or release devices
- Drones can only be flown during the day and in appropriate weather
- Drones cannot be flown near large crowds
- Drones cannot be flown over private property
- Drones should not endanger any people, animals or property
And of course, do not fly near airports, police stations, prisons, military bases or other areas of sensitivity. This is the worst possible thing you could do as a drone operator, it can lead to time in prison, in any country across the world.
You should also have drone insurance to cover lost or damaged drones.
Where you can fly your drone in Dubai?
Honestly, this is pretty limited. There are so many areas that are no drone zones, and for a various number of reasons.
As you can tell, Dubai is extremely strict when it comes to flying drones. We recommend downloading the My Drone Hub app which you can find here. This is created by the GCAA and is a great way of seeing where you can and can’t fly your drone in Dubai.
Can you fly a drone in Dubai: Wrap Up
Well, there you have it. Hopefully, you leave feeling confident about if you are allowed to fly a drone in Dubai; the licenses and registrations required to do so, and the rules you must follow when flying your drone.
Unfortunately, Dubai does not allow drone flying the way we all hope, it would be amazing if you could fly a drone as a tourist. Nonetheless, Dubai is a great city and an excellent experience, even if you cannot capture it from a drone.
Please note that any advice contained in this article should not take precedence over information published by official sources. Websites in the UAE can often be out of date but it pays to check these things with the regulatory authorities concerned or risk fines.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.Dubai Travel Planner