New law bans all volunteering without permission from authorities, Sheikh Mohammed announces

Regulations cover Dubai and follow the introduction of rules on fundraising and running charities in 2016

A young volunteer hands out water to workers in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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UPDATE: Strict new rules could stop volunteers signing up for community programmes

Community groups and other organisations will need permission to carry out any sort of voluntary work under strict new laws announced by the Dubai Government on Sunday.

New legislation sets out the need for volunteers to carry official ID cards and keep records of all of their activities.

The Community Development Authority (CDA) must be contacted before any voluntary work is undertaken.

The move was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and follows the introduction of laws governing charities and fundraising in 2016. That legislation set out huge fines and jail terms of up to a year for any unauthoritised money collection.

The new volunteering law reiterates that no kind of fundraising can be carried out without being linked to a government-registered charity, such as Emirates Red Crescent.

It also sets out:

- under the law, public and private bodies engaged in volunteering activities should set out the nature of their work to the CDA.

- they should also specify the category and nature of the volunteering activity and train the volunteers if required.

- they must maintain a record with the volunteers’ names, personal information, the nature of work and the hours they have done.

- they should also register such information in CDA’s database.

- bodies must also provide all required tools and safety equipment necessary for the volunteers to perform their activity.

- groups must also provide insurance coverage against injuries.

- all volunteers must sign the volunteering agreement issued by CDA and this agreement must detail the relationship between the volunteer and the entity.

- volunteers under 18 years must obtain approval from their legal guardian.

- the volunteer must enjoy a record of 'good conduct', be physically fit and be registered as a volunteer with the CDA.


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A statement from Dubai Government Media Office said the CDA would establish plans and policies required to regulate volunteering in the emirate of Dubai, and encourage public and private sectors to sponsor volunteering programmes, under the guidelines set out.

A special committee will also look into any complaints or litigation related to the volunteering agreement.

Dubai's charity law caught many residents and companies by surprise at first when it was introduced in 2016.

Legal figures warned many were unwittingly on the wrong side of the law by continuing to run fundraisers, including British-Australian expat Scott Richards, who was arrested for fundraising for a village in Afghanistan. The case against him was later dropped.

Since then, organisations partnering with government-linked charities to promote good causes has become commonplace.