Abu Dhabi skyline
The Abu Dhabi skyline. The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi announced today that it has already received licensing applications for NGOs from civil society and third-sector organisations. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can now be licensed in Abu Dhabi so that they can operate within the provisions of UAE law.

The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi announced today that it has already received licensing applications from civil society and third-sector organisations. These organisations, which are non-profit by nature, typically operate independent from the government to meet a social goal or purpose.

Organising agreement

In May 2021, the DCD had signed an agreement with the UAE Ministry of Community Development so that it could implement the national law governing the third sector, Federal Law No 35 of 2020, which amends some provisions of Federal Law No 2 of 2008 regarding Private Associations and Institutions of Public Benefit. The agreement defines the authority of both entities for the supervision and regulation of the NGO sector, and is aimed at enhancing social cohesion through the use of partnerships.

Hessa Tahlak, assistant undersecretary of social development at the Ministry, said efforts are underway to boost partnerships and support integration between federal ministries, institutions, local departments, and entities to strengthen the social sector. This further supports the provision of services that support ensure family and community cohesion, happiness and quality of life.

Facilitating social entities

“This [NGO licensing] service by DCD is in line with the directives of our wise leadership, and is consistent with our goals aimed at supporting individuals who actively participate in community service [facilitated by NGOs. It ensures that these individuals are able to operate within an organised legal framework,]” said Mubarak Al Ameri, acting executive director of social licensing and control.

“Licences are provided to groups wishing to establish NGOs in Abu Dhabi in accordance with the laws, and in a manner that contributes to providing an appropriate environment for their work,” Al Ameri said.


In order to apply for an NGO licence, founding members must sign statutes, record the minutes of their meetings signed by the attendees and record minutes of the meeting of the temporary committee. One member of the committee must be authorised to submit monthly reports and statements that include the names, titles, professions and places of residence of the founding members, copies of their identity cards and passports, as well as their data form.

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According to the law of associations in the country, Emiratis have the right to apply for an NGO licence under the previous conditions. The association must perform and provide services after establishment for the public interest without collecting profits, and membership must be open to all.

In order to apply for an NGO licence, entities can visit the DCD’s official website.