Abu Dhabi has announced that it is halting all sale and purchase of drones until proper regulations governing their use are in place.
The move aims to reduce the improper use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the country, state news agency WAM reported.
“The ceasing of trading activity for the sale and purchase of drones from shops in the emirate of Abu Dhabi comes within the mandate of the centre to regulate and control commercial activities that may negatively affect community security,” said Mohammed Rashid Al Rumaithi, acting executive director of Abu Dhabi Business Centre.
Officials said that they will be stepping up inspection campaigns on shops selling drones in order to ensure strict adherence to the laws.
The UAE has been cracking down on the use of drones after few unauthorised UAVs temporarily led to a shutdown of Dubai’s airspace in January.
The incident also fast tracked the formation of laws governing the use of drones in the country, while specifically regulating their use in the commercial airspace.
The UAE’s aviation watchdog General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) recently said that the rules will apply to both commercial and corporate use of drones in the country.
The legislation, which is expected to be in place soon, will regulate the use of drones in terms of weight and nature of use, including the practice of individuals indulging in this type of hobby at the relevant clubs approved by the government, WAM said.
New regulations will also ban the use of UAVs near airports, residential areas, public properties and other restricted places. Once in place, the laws will also prohibit the use of the country’s airspace without prior approval from the GCAA and other relevant authorities.
The UAE government currently uses drones for official purposes such as to deliver documents and packages to its citizens as part of its efforts to upgrade government services.
Last year, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) also began using drones to monitor completed phases of infrastructure projects, effectively reducing cumbersome human effort.
The growing use of drones in the region has led to a number of global firms looking to snag local deals.
According to US-based research firm Teal Group, the UAV market in the Middle East is expected to reach a value of $4.5 billion over the period from 2014 to 2023, representing almost 10 per cent of the global UAV market.