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| 17 October, 2017

Ignorance no excuse for flouting drone laws

Hexacopter drone flying in the sunset. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Hexacopter drone flying in the sunset. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Drone operators who do not comply face fine of up to $5,445 or prison sentence

Dubai tourists and residents who do not comply to the regulations around drone usage will be charged even if they are unaware of the laws in place, a top Dubai Police official has said.

Ignorance of the laws cannot be "used as an excuse" when it comes to the misuse of drones, Eng. Kamil Buti Al Suwaidi, director of department of operations at Dubai Police, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a joint Dubai Police and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) press conference at the Unmanned Aerial System Forum.

The two-day forum brought together leaders from different government entities to discuss how to implement safe drone usage. Hobbyists were also able to obtain their drone flying permits at the forum, after they were briefed about the drone regulations.

"In many cases, the people are not educated. They do not know the right way, the proper way to use drones or the regulations. Maybe they don't know the areas where they can or cannot fly drones," Al Suwaidi said.

"That is why it was very important to give training to the hobbyist during this event. We can train them, educate them on the proper way to use the drones. We taught them what the regulations are and which areas they can fly the drone.

"If I go to any country I should the know regulation. It is my responsibility to know what I can or cannot do, otherwise if he does something wrong, he will be fined or charged. Not knowing is not an excuse for misusing a drone or any technology. It is their responsibility before they do that to know the regulation on what is allowed and what isn't. The law is there and if anything happens, and if someone is doing wrong, the law will be applied to him."

All drone users are also being warned to not film in areas that they are not allowed to.

Khalid Al Arif, executive director of safety and environment at the DCAA, said that drone operators also need to respect the privacy of people.

"There are regulations in place in terms of utilising drones with a camera. Hobbyists fly drones that is equipped with a camera and there is a regulation that says you are not allowed to take a video unless you're permitted to do so, especially when it comes to the privacy of the people. There are also several restricted areas, where drones cannot fly at all," he said.

Drone operators who do not comply to the regulations can be charged a fine of up to Dh20,000 or even a prison sentence.

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