Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: In a bid to reduce the uncontrolled spread and improper use of drones in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, trading in unmanned aerial vehicles has been halted, the Department of Economic Development (DED) announced on Wednesday.

This decision has been put in place until authorities officially issue a set of regulations pertaining to the devices in question.

In January this year, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) revealed that it will release a set of rules to regulate the use of drones in the UAE.

Recently, a recreational drone caused Dubai airport operations to stop for almost an hour after the device flew near critical flight paths.

Mohammad Rashid Al Rumaithi, Acting Executive Director of Abu Dhabi Business Centre at the DED, said in a statement: “The ceasing of trading activity for the sale and purchase of drones from shops in the emirate of Abu Dhabi comes within the mandate of the centre to regulate and control commercial activities that may negatively affect community security.”

In 2013, a national committee was set up to assign a comprehensive survey that studies the use of drones and consequently come up with a set of regulations pertaining to them. One of the issues associated with the gadgets is their ability to fly within regulated airspace.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Tarish Al Qubaisi, Acting Director of the Commercial Protection Department in Abu Dhabi Business Centre, said: “The centre began to address all sales outlets and shops in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to request them to stop selling drones to the public pursuant to this resolution.”

Al Qubaisi urged all relevant stakeholders to abide by the new guidelines and to cooperate in limiting such trading.

“The Control and Inspection Department in Abu Dhabi Business Centre will increase the number of inspection campaigns on all shops that practise these activities in the coming days in order to make sure they are committed to this binding directive to cease this activity for the time-being until the issuance of legislation that prohibits the use of drones near airports, residential areas, property, public facilities and restricted areas in the country,” the statement said.

The new decree will include rules on the weight of the drones and nature of their use in addition to assigning a number of facilities in which device owners can practise their hobby.

“The legislation will also set controls for commercial or service use by government agencies and commercial companies which should obtain an official permit before beginning any activity involving the use of UAE airspace,” the statement added.

Current laws ban the flight of drones near airports, residential areas, public utilities and other prohibited areas.