Dubai: In light of the decree on fundraising issued last week by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Islamic Affairs Charitable Activities Department in Dubai (IACAD) said that any violation of the decree could result in a penalty of two months to one year of imprisonment and a fine ranging from Dh5,000 to Dh100,000 depending on the court’s ruling.

The announcement by IACAD was made at the 2015 UAE Career Fair that concluded at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The Decree No (9) of 2015, which consists of 17 articles, was issued by Shaikh Mohammad to regulate fundraising and charitable donations in Dubai.

Dr Hamad Bin Al Shaikh Ahmad Al Shaibani, director-general of IACAD, said that the department is going to issue resolutions to the decree and appoint judicial officers who will possess the right to investigate situations and document any violations of the decree while coordinating with authorised entities, including the police.

Ali Al Mansouri, director of the Charitable Institutions Department, encouraged the public to donate money and not be discouraged by the decree since it is only meant to regulate the donation process, bring transparency to the act of charity and prevent any violations.

Referring to the violations thus far, Al Mansouri said, “From 2005 to 2014, we have had violations worth Dh15 million only, which is not a big sum given the number of years,” said Al Mansouri. “Also, in these nine years, there was a total of Dh108 million approved donations made.”

Charity events, he said, can be registered easily after filling out a form provided by IACAD to avoid violations.

“The goal is to collect the appropriate donations the right way in order to distribute them ethically to those who deserve it and need the money the most,” said Al Mansouri.

In case of violations, the Islamic Affairs Charitable Activities Department is authorised to revise and approve fundraising requests, monitor and oversee fundraising activities in Dubai and confiscate any funds or money raised in variance with the decree.

Though official penalties and fines are set by the court ruling, Al Mansouri added that IACAD is authorised to carry out an initial procedure which consists of a written warning signed by both the violator and the department, pledging to never repeat the violation.

“In addition to the written warning, the violator must return double the amount that was made [for charity]. For instance, if the amount made was Dh100,000, an amount of Dh200,000 must be paid as a result of the violation,” he explained. “Also, the shop used for these practices will be shut down for no longer than a year.”

He further clarified that in some cases, after further investigation, violators can be proven innocent and imprisonment is not the immediate decision. The decree has been set to help regulate donations and ensure ethical activity.

IACAD has several licensed Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) across the country authorised to collect donations for those in need. The public should approach the licensed NGOs before donating to untrusted entities.

Al Mansouri concluded that donations, when received, are allocated appropriately to the areas most needed. Over the years, 85 per cent of donations made were directed to developing projects, such as roads, power stations and hospitals and two per cent for religious projects.

Maria Botros is a trainee at Gulf News.