If you're interested in hunting or fishing while in the UAE, here is all you need to know as an expat resident
21 February 2021| Last updated on 21 February 2021
The rules for hunting wildlife animals and fishing in the UAE are often unclear for expats in the country, prompting plenty of questions.
Is hunting allowed in the UAE? If so, where can you hunt? What are you allowed to hunt with while in the Emirates? Where are you allowed to fish? And so on, and so forth.
So whether you're hunting for sport, fishing to relax and unwind, or you're simply doing this to put food on the table, we've gathered a complete guide to answer your queries.
Is hunting animals legal in the UAE?
No, hunting is illegal in the UAE. In fact, anyone caught anyone caught carrying out illegal wildlife hunting and trading activities will be punished with heavy fines and imprisonment.
Hunting and trapping wildlife is forbidden, with the exception for Abu Dhabi.
Pictured: Wild oryx in Dubai
Hunting in Abu Dhabi
The Environment Authority Abu Dhabi licenses areas for hunting. Hunting will only be allowed within the geographical borders of the specified area, which fall under the control and supervision of the operator and professional hunter.
The geographic borders and hunting activities requirements will be set in the licence.
Where can you hunt without a licence?
The only place in the country where you are allowed to hunt animals without a licence is at the Telal Resort on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. There, you will be charged depending on the animal you catch, with prices ranging from AED 3,700 for a gazelle to around AED 37,000 for one Arabian oryx.
If you are unable to hunt any game, you will not be charged. Hunting equipment will be provided, such as hunting optics, rifles and systems.
Outside of Telal, the UAE is actively conserving wildlife such as oryx and gazelle so they may safely roam in their natural habitats.
What about falconry in the UAE?
Falconry is not just permitted, but it also holds a special position as a heritage symbol and traditional sport of the UAE.
Falcons and falconry have been an integral part of Emirati culture for thousands of years, mainly domesticated to aid the Bedouin people in hunting. The falcons' sharp vision and swift movements helped the desert tribes catch wildlife such as bustards and curlews to eat.
Typically, female falcons are used for hunting due to their larger sizes, with saker and peregrine falcon breeds being prized by locals.
However, these days, falconry has evolved into two types of sports:
- Shotgun falconry: The trainer swings a prey while the falcon flies around him, and then he lets the falcon chase the prey down.
- Falcon race: Quite similar to a horse race - whichever bird can reach the finish line the fastest, wins. In a falcon race, the trainer stands at the finish line, holds a lure and must try to attract his bird towards the finish line.
Is fishing allowed for residents in Dubai?
Yes, expats are allowed to fish in Dubai. However, to fish in the Emirate's waters, you need to have a Recreational Fishing Licence.
If you are caught fishing at any beach, pier or boat without this licence, you can face a fine from AED 1,000.
Requirements to apply for a Recreational Fishing Licence
- You need to be a UAE resident
- Passport with UAE residence visa copy
- (If you're a boat owner in Dubai) Marine craft driver’s licence
- DEWA bill copy
- Copy of tenancy contract registered through Ejari, the online system of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority
- Copy of job contract
- Copy of NOC letter from your company, if company provides your accommodation (copies).
- Labour card or free zone ID
Where to apply for a Recreational Fishing Licence in Dubai
You can apply for the licence either online or at the Dubai Fishermen Co-operative Association.
- Apply online through the Dubai Municipality portal at dm.gov.ae
- Click individual service, then click for ‘Fishing’, then ‘Recreational Fishing Licence’
- Fill in and submit the online form online
- Pay the fee
You can expect your documents to be verified within three days, after which your fishing licence can be collected from the Dubai Municipality.
If at the Dubai Fishermen Co-operative Association:
- Visit the Dubai Fishermen Co-operative Association with a printed copy of your application form, and copies of the documents mentioned above
- Pay the fee then take the receipt and copy of your application to the Dubai Marine Environment & Wildlife Department
- The department will have your licence available immediately
It's worth noting that with this licence, you are only allowed to fish in Dubai waters. The Recreational Fishing Licence costs AED 250.
The licence is also only limited to recreational fishing, so you are not allowed to fish for business or commercial reasons.
For Abu Dhabi expats, you can apply online through the government portal at tamm.abudhabi/en for either an annual fishing licence or a weekly renewable licence that will cost you AED 30.