A guide for film enthusiasts wishing to film from the UAE's skies.
Its Dubai 2016, and although we do not have flying cars and hover boards (at least, not real ones), we do have flight drones, and lots of them. While most people who own high-end models of drone aircraft do so for professional use, an increasing number of people have purchased the machines simply as toys. What many of them do not know (including a large number of film production companies in Dubai) is that drone usage with a camera within the UAE is illegal, without the correct permissions and permits.
Recently The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has asked light air sports enthusiasts, including drone enthusiasts, to fly their aircraft only in accredited clubs approved by the authority to address safety and security issues. Most notably, the GCAA also warned drone hobbyists against equipping their vehicles with laser devices, cameras and other projection devices. Doing so could result in your equipment being confiscated by the police with a hefty fine. So what are the basic rules?
Well all flying should take place within the visual line of sight of the user and not above 400 ft from ground level without the use of visual aids, such as binoculars and within the aircraft's operational range.
Fly only during daytime and in good weather conditions and do not under any circumstances fly within five kilometers from any airports, helipads, landing areas or manned aircraft. Do not fly near any buildings, houses, private properties or persons and finally, unless you have approval do not fly for commercial purposes.
For filmmakers, film and media production companies in Dubai and other commercial users, drone pilots should get a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). This letter can be obtained after registration, pre-assessment and prior approval from the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC).
It is essential to note that throughout the UAE there are laws pertaining to drone flying and not just Dubai, so you need to check with the corresponding emirate before taking off. Each emirate may have slightly different rules and regulations. Because this is a relatively new area of interest, local rules and laws may for a while be in a state of flux and subject to change; therefore it is essential to check with the DFCT and the DCAA before you start filming with your drone.