Abu Dhabi shooting: rare gun incident puts spotlight on strict licensing laws

Motorist ignored orders to stop before crashing into patrol car, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department says

Police were called to Al Ain after reports of reckless driving.
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The reckless actions of a driver, who fired on police before crashing into their patrol car, caused his death, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said.

The man ignored orders to stop by police who were called out in Al Ain after he was spotted performing wheelspins and driving at high speed on a main road at about 5am on Wednesday.

Police gave chase and, when he failed to comply with their command to stop, fired two shots in the air in accordance with powers granted to them under UAE law.

The driver, whose identity, age and nationality have not been disclosed by the authorities, then pulled out a gun and fired at police before crashing into their car, causing his own vehicle to flip over.

He suffered severe injuries in the accident and died after being taken to the intensive care unit of a hospital.

The driver fired at police before crashing his car and losing his life in the process. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police
The driver fired at police before crashing his car and losing his life in the process. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police

Police did not disclose whether the man was carrying the weapon illegally. Only Emirati citizens are permitted to carry firearms but papers to possess and carry weapons can also be issued to diplomats from foreign countries.

Buying or possessing firearms without a licence or permit is prohibited by UAE law.

Gun licences are issued only to Emirati nationals, who are then permitted to carry a limited amount of ammunition.

The law forbids gun owners from producing a firearm in a public place, even if it is licensed.

Emirati gun licences must be renewed every three years.

The law also prohibits the issuing of firearms licences to any person previously convicted of committing a crime involving state security, terrorism, drugs, consuming alcohol, committing an offence against another person or a financial crime.

Furthermore, a licence holder has to be at least 25 years old, must not be suffering from any psychological illnesses, and must be certified fit by a medical authority.


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Licences to possess or trade firearms, ammunition, fireworks, explosives and military equipment are issued within 60 days of the date an application was presented to the relative authority. If the period passes and the licence has not been issued, it means the application has been rejected.

Those prosecuted for importing or possessing weapons illegally face between six months and 10 years in prison, and a fine of at least Dh15,000. However, if a case is referred up to the National Security Council these punishments can be increased.

Abu Dhabi Police said it regretted Wednesday’s incident and offered its condolences to the family of the deceased.

The police urged the public to ensure they comply with officers and warned that reckless driving can lead to tragedy.

Abu Dhabi General Prosecution also expressed its regret at the fatal incident and offered condolences to the dead man’s relatives.

It called on the authorities to step up awareness campaigns about irresponsible driving that can have deadly consequences.

Abu Dhabi Police were previously put in the line of fire in 2012 during an incident that became known as the Bani Yas ambush.

Yemeni Fahad Abdullah and Emirati Mohammed Khamis were about to sell 20kg of hashish to undercover policemen in Bani Yas, when they realised they were the targets of a sting operation.

They opened fire on the police patrol, injuring two officers.

Both men were handed down life sentences for drug dealing and using force against on-­duty police officers.