The number of licensed non-profit groups is set to rise under new procedures in the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The regulation and licensing of non-profit associations in the UAE is set to rise sharply under new procedures of the Ministry of Community Development, it was announced on Saturday.

The move is expected to increase the formalised number of such associations by licensing the ones that have not yet been regularised.

Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid

The ministry will also step up monitoring of social welfare groups in the country “to protect this sector from the risk of exploitation”, announced Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development.

Combating money laundering, terrorist financing

She added that the ministry is “very keen” to organise workshops for regulatory authorities that oversee non-profit associations, to increase their awareness about international best practices to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and weapons proliferation as issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Certifying money flow

A key task of the ministry is to supervise ‘Non-Benefit Public Associations and NGOs’, issue certificates that allow them to open accounts in banks and financial institutions and approve the signatures of authorised people to operate these accounts.

These steps, the ministry said, “continuously assure” that both banks and financial institutions do not permit Non-Benefit Public Associations and NGOs to receive any funds from outside the UAE through their accounts until they are approved by the ministry.

The ministry will apply new procedures in accordance with Federal Law No. 35 of 2020 concerning the ratification of some provisions of the associations. It will also increase the number of declared such associations in the UAE.

The minister stressed the importance of collaboration between the ministry and other regulatory authorities to supervise and monitor non-profit associations, organise joint workshops and awareness programmes and take the necessary precautions to protect this sector from exploitation in supporting and financing terrorism.

Keeping watch

The ministry inspects and analyses the financial statements and accounts of Non-Benefit Pubic Associations on an annual basis to identify their sources of income, subsidies and donations received by the associations as well as their disbursements.

The ministry also monitors the annual meetings of Non-Benefit Public Associations’ general assemblies to discuss the financial and administrative reports of the associations and organise the elections of the boards of directors.

Also, the ministry implements field visits to non-benefit public associations to determine their compliance with the law and regulatory decisions.

Categories and numbers

The minister revealed that the total number of Non-Benefit Public Associations, NGO’s and Social Solidarity Funds in the UAE is 501, including both federally and locally-licensed ones.

However, the number of such entities that are declared by the ministry reached is 274, including those associations and NGO’s who reconciled their status in accordance with Decree no. 35 of the Federal Law 2020.

These ministry-declared entities are divided as follows:

-222 Non-Benefit Public Associations

-34 NGO’s and

-18 social solidarity funds (Takaful).

According to the record of associations registered at the Ministry, the 222 Non-Benefit Public Specialized Associations are further divided into the following classifications:

-Public and cultural service associations reached (88)

-Professional associations (37)

-Folkloric arts associations (29)

-Humanitarian services (30)

-Clubs and communities (16)

-Theatres (14)

-Women’s associations (8)

Meanwhile, the number of NGOs has reached 34 and the social solidarity funds have reached 18 in number in the UAE.