Dubai law bans volunteering without approval

Legislation targets volunteer groups in the emirate, builds on earlier move to limit fundraising and collections

Community groups in Dubai will need permits to carry out any volunteering activities in the emirate under new laws that went into effect on Sunday.

Teams of volunteers must now gain approval from the Community Development Authority (CDA) before any work begins, or any donations are collected.

The legislation also requires volunteers to register with the CDA, to carry ID cards, and to sign the authority’s volunteering agreement.

Those taking part in specialised volunteer work will need to obtain a license from the CDA, and any related permits.

The law was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, and extends rules introduced in 2016 that prohibit any unauthorised fundraising, collections of goods, or online donation campaigns. Those found breaking the law risk fines and a jail term.

Only a handful of registered local charities - such as Emirates Red Crescent - are licensed to fundraise. All others must gain prior approval from the Islamic affairs and charitable activities department in Dubai.

If approval is granted, the charity must still join with a licensed, local body for the event, and donate a percentage of the funds collected.

Under the terms of the volunteering law, organisations taking on unpaid workers will need to record their data, the nature of the work carried out, and the number of hours undertaken in the CDA database. They will also be responsible for insuring volunteers, and for paying any work-related expenses.