Dubai Volunteering Center with other social groups distribute meals to workers in DIP as part of their Honour Labour campaign, organized by the Community Development Authority. Picture for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News/archive

Dubai: The Community Development Authority (CDA) reiterated its call to associations engaged in various social, cultural or recreational activities to register with the CDA.

Over the years, the Dubai government has issued a number of laws to regulate and register associations and volunteers, with the CDA tasked as the relevant authority for the process.

On Monday, the CDA said on its official Twitter account, “Do you have an association that includes a group of individuals to engage in various social, cultural or recreational activities? Register now through our website link in Bio”.

Activities such as collecting donations and fundraising, for example, must first be cleared by the CDA for the emirate of Dubai. Prior permission is also needed for volunteer work.

There are various volunteers and NGOs engaged in social work, from coordinating donations for securing the release of prisoners by paying off their fines, to assisting families in repatriating the body of a loved one. Some companies also engage in social work at times. However, not all of them have always sought permission from Dubai government for the activities.

The CDA has repeatedly urged volunteers and associations, which it calls “civil establishments”, to register and seek approval before engaging in social work.

The CDA’s calls, together with its awareness campaigns and workshops, have led to greater conformity with Dubai’s laws on the NGO sector.

In April, the CDA announced there was a fall in the number of registered violations against licensed civil establishments by 50 per cent between 2016 and 2018.

According to a news release on the Media Centre page of CDA’s website, www.cda.gov.ae, the authority also recorded a decrease in the number of written warnings to the private sector, which “… guarantees the quality of services provided, and also ensures their conformity to legal standards set out by Law No. 12 of 2017 on civil enterprises in Dubai”.

The CDA maintains that “the primary role of supervision and inspection focuses on the application of the spirit of the law and the achievement of its objectives to protect beneficiaries of civil enterprises’ services by ensuring the safety of its procedures and the quality of its systems”.

For example, the new Dubai Volunteering Law announced in April 2018 seeks to ensure, among other objectives, that associations provide the necessary tools and health and safety measures for volunteers signing up for initiatives. They must carry ID cards and keep records of their work.

The laws regulating civil establishments also aim to ensure fundraising activities are undertaken legally for approved objectives.

In 2016, a British-Australian national was arrested by Dubai Police for allegedly using Facebook to promote a US-based charity supporting refugees in Afghanistan without official permission. The charges against him were later dropped.

What the law says

According to Law No. 12 of 2017, ‘Regulating Civil Society Organisations in the Emirate of Dubai’, any person or organisation who violates the provisions of this law faces one or several penalties, depending on the nature and number of violations. Fines can range from Dh500 to Dh200,000, activities can be suspended for up to three months, and the organisation can be closed, among other punishments, which are to be “commensurate with the extent and gravity of the committed violation”.