A GoPro Karma drone. The drones boast simple joystick and touchscreen controls, and fold easily into a padded backpack that is provided. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Drone enthusiasts and hobbyists will have a chance to get 200 free drone licences in a forum next week in Dubai.

The announcement was made at Gitex Technology Week by Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and Dubai Police, asking drone users to attend the two-day forum and the open exhibition on October 16 and 17.

Brigadier Kamil Al Suwaidi, director of the police’s General Department of Operations, said the forum aims to educate the public about the proper use of drones and the procedures for obtaining licences for them.

“We will issue 200 free licences for people who own drones and who register for the forum. We will provide them with training. We want the public to know how to use drones and be aware of the areas in which drone flying is prohibited in Dubai,” Brig Al Suwaidi said.

The drone user should be above 18 years of age to avail of the free licence offer at the forum.

Brig Al Suwaidi said Dubai has witnessed some drone accidents when these devices caused disruptions of services at the Dubai International Airport but the regulations have brought the issue under control.

He added that the forum will offer lectures and discussions to raise awareness on drones with 28 speakers from eight countries participating in it. It is the first forum of its kind in the region that offers free training and free licences,” said Brig Al Suwaidi.

“This forum will be a chance to exchange experiments and regulations of drones with experts from the US and Europe and to learn more about the proper use of drones,” he added.

Meanwhile, Khalid Al Arif, director of Aviation Environment Safety Sector at the DCAA, told Gulf News that each drone in Dubai must have a GPS tracking device in order to be given the licence to operate it.

“Each drone user must register his drone and will get a serial number and licence. Part of the condition is to have a tracking device on his drone so we can track it whenever it is in the sky to avoid trouble. The tracking device knows which areas are prohibited so when a drone enters one of those areas, it won’t be able to continue and will have to turn back. It’s a kind of fencing system around prohibited areas in Dubai,” Al Arif said.

He said that DCAA has issued 888 drone licences so far this year.

If a drone creates trouble or crosses into unauthorised areas, the owner is warned and if he does not heed the warning, he will be fined between Dh2,000 and Dh20,000.

“The fine is for ignoring the warning but if he endangers safety in the skies, he will be referred to Dubai Police with a case registered against him,” Al Arif said.