Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, at the media briefing Image Credit: Angel Teseroro/Gulf News

Those who engage in illegal fundraising and donations in the UAE will face imprisonment and fine of up to Dh500,000, the Ministry of Community Development announced on Thursday.

During a media briefing at Expo 2020 Dubai, Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, discussed ‘Federal Law No. 3 of 2021 Concerning the Regulations of Fundraising and Donations’. She highlighted the most important provisions of the law and the practices and procedures for authorised entities to collect donations as wells as violations and fines.

Buhumaid underlined: “The Donations Federal Regulatory Law No. (3) of 2021 to regulate donations and fundraising basically protects fundraisers money in compliance with the UAE provisions and regulations that apply on any entity wishing to collect funds in the UAE including free zones.”

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She added, “The law ensures that fundraising and donations reach eligible beneficiaries and achieves the principle of unifying federal and local efforts through coordination between the ministry and competent local authorities known by law as the “competent authority”.

“The Donations Regulatory Law is fully supported by the UAE government and all competent authorities and entities; and at the same time a safe and stimulating framework for humanitarian and social giving, stemming from the UAE traditions and culture,” Buhumaid noted.

Penalties and fines

The law states the penalty of imprisonment and a fine with minimum of Dh200,000 and maximum of Dh500,000; or one of these penalties for whoever commits any act while collecting, accepting or making donations that may harm public order, national security, public morals, and any act that may encourage any ethnic, racial, religious, cultural disputes, or any illegal purpose according to the enforced legal legislations in the UAE. The penalty or fine is doubled in the case of recurrence.

Penalty of imprisonment and a fine with minimum of Dh200,000 and maximum of Dh500,000 or one of these penalties for whoever trades in donated funds or is engaged in financial speculation, or the distribution of revenues or returns among the members or the employees of the associations. The penalty or fine is doubled in the case of recurrence.

In all cases, the court shall order the confiscation of all the collected donations or fundraising amounts in violation of the provision of this law.

Licensed entities

According to the law, only licensed charitable associations, federal and local authorities, and non-profit associations are eligible by law, decrees or decisions to collect, receive and make donations based on the updates issued by MCD to the list of authorised entities and associations in this regard.

“All authorised and licensed entities that collect and receive donations all over the emirates must comply with the licensing procedures of local authorities in each emirate when they intend to collect donations,” said Hessa Tahlak, MCD assistant undersecretary of Social Development,

Two types of charity entities

She also noted that according to the new law, there are two types of charity entities: Those licensed and authorised entities that are established by laws or decisions or decrees to collect, provide and receive donations and fundraising; and permitted entities allowed by the competent authority to obtain a license for collecting donations and fundraising through listed charitable organizations in the UAE only.

Tahlak also underscored “that according to the new law, licensed and authorised entities are not allowed to publish, broadcast or promote any promotional materials or advertisements for fundraising without the approval of the competent authority.

“The UAE legislation has prohibited any normal or legal person from collecting donations without prior authorisation from the competent authority, except those licensed entities in accordance with the definition of the law,” she continued.

In-kind, food and pharmaceutical donations

As for in-kind, food and pharmaceutical donations, the Ministry statement explained the law permits these kinds of donations “only if they do not violate the specified procedures as per the enforced UAE legislations and regulations”.

“Licensed and authorised entities are not permitted to accept, transport, maintain or provide in-kind food or pharmaceutical donations within the UAE. They shall not also accept any food or pharmaceutical donations to be distributed outside the UAE unless they comply with the stipulated conditions,” the Ministry added.

Joint mechanism

The Ministry is currently reviewing humanitarian foundations in the UAE in terms of the mechanisms of collecting fundraising and donations as mentioned in the executive regulations and provisions of the law.

The Ministry is also coordinating with local authorities to establish a joint mechanism to classify other charities, associations and societies in the UAE. The list of approved associations and entities will be provided through the website of the MCD and continuously updated to inform everyone of these entities.

Licenses entities

The licensed entities to collect fundraising and donations are: Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, Emirates Red Crescent, Al Maktoum Foundation, Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charitable Establishment, UAE Water Aid, Noor Dubai, Dubai Cares, Al Jalila Foundation, Dar Al Ber Society, Beit Al Khair Society, Dubai Charity Association, Sharjah Charity International, Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nouimi Foundation, International Charity Organization, Al Ihsan Charity Association, Saud Bin Rashid Al Mualla Charitable and Humanitarian Est, Um Al Quwain Charity Society, Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Charity and Humanitarian Foundation, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Charitable Educational Foundation, Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Foundation for Humanitarian Affairs, Fujairah Charity Association in addition to other government entities and authorities such as Zakat Fund, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Ewa’a Shelters for Victims of Violence & Human Trafficking, Khalifa University, etc.”