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 30 November 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 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 of private hunting operators in Abu Dhabi.
Pictured: Wild oryx in Dubai
Hunting wildlife in Abu Dhabi
What are the hunting laws in Abu Dhabi?
Updated on November 30th, 2021.
As of November 29th, 2021, the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi issued a new local decree amending the executive regulations on hunting in Abu Dhabi.
Amendments to the Executive Council Decision No. (5) of 2021 of the Hunting Law in Abu Dhabi were issued to support the hunting sector in preserving the emirate's heritage of traditional hunting.
The new hunting regulations aims to ensure that the UAE's age-old Arab traditions and values are passed on to the current and future generations, while also ensuring respect for the environment and sustainability.
Where can I hunt wildlife in Abu Dhabi?
Only falconers can hunt, and the Environment Authority Abu Dhabi licenses areas for traditional 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.
Falconers are restricted from hunting in prohibited places such as nature reserves, forests, residential, military and petroleum production areas by at least two kilometres.
EAD stressed the need for the licensee to abide by the period specified for hunting, with permits issued for one season only.
EAD will also start licensing wild hunting for this season, until the end of February 28, 2022.
The geographic borders and hunting activities requirements will be set in the licence.
Who can hunt wildlife in Abu Dhabi?
To hunt game in Abu Dhabi, you must be an Emirati national who is at least 18 years old and has a valid permit with them.
Hunting is permitted in Abu Dhabi using falcons that are licensed and registered with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Proof of the falcons' registration must be submitted if requested.
Will I get charged a fee for hunting?
The capital no longer charges hunters a species conservation fee. Previously, those who wish to hunt animals in Abu Dhabi were charged fees for hunting animals bred in facilities and released into hunting areas by private businesses.
How to get a hunting permit in Abu Dhabi?
You can get a traditional hunting permit from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD). EAD will also specify details for hunting seasons, permitted methods of hunting, and others terms and conditions for hunting outside designated grounds.
You are not allowed to hunt any kind of wild animal or cause its disturbance. You are also prohibited from driving over or causing damage to local vegetation.
Under the new hunting regulations in Abu Dhabi, individuals are prohibited from transferring a hunting permit to another person.
Where can you hunt without a licence?
The only place in the country where you are allowed to hunt animals without a licence is with Barari Hunting UAE. There, you can hunt three local species with a rifle or a bow: the Arabian Oryx, the Arabian Sand Gazelle, and the Arabian Mountain Gazelle.
Their hunting season usually takes place from October through March the next year, as the UAE's winter season offers pleasant and cool conditions to hunt game.
Outside of Barari Hunting, the UAE is actively conserving wildlife such as oryx and gazelle so they may safely roam in their natural habitats.
Hunting with falcons 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.