Fundraising through illegal channels is considered a cybercrime, and you may face a hefty fine
4 July 2018| Last updated on 5 August 2019
This week UAE resident were warned against using illegal channels online to fundraise in the country.
The country has strict laws against fundraising without the correct permissions, and thus any sort of fundraising online through illegal platforms is considered a cybercrime in the UAE. Offenders therefore, risk facing possible prison time and a huge AED 500,000 fine.
The warning came from UAE Attorney General, Dr. Hamad Al Shamsi, who has reminded UAE residents to be cautious of individuals or organisations promoting the raising of donations online or via social media.
Fundraising should be conducted only through legal channels, and is considered a cybercrime otherwise.
"The Attorney General's Federal Bureau of Investigation has monitored some cases in this respect and referred them to to Anti-Cyber Crime Public Prosecution for investigation," Dr Al Shamsi said, reports Arabian Business.
Why does the UAE have strict fundraising laws?
Since 2015 in the UAE, organisations and support groups have needed to obtain approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) in the country.
The law, which was decreed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, states that anyone wishing to fundraise in the emirate needs to get prior approval from the IACAD through one of its registered charities.
This permission applies to all on and offline fundraising efforts that are conducted or promoted within the UAE.
The UAE's strict fundraising laws help to ensure that any money donated is controlled and audited correctly, to ensure moneys reach their purpose.
Failure to gain prior approval from the IACAD can result in a jail sentence of up to a year in prison, or fines up to AED 100,000.
For online fundraising, which is referred to cyber-crime officials, offenders risk facing prison time of up to three years and a fine as high as AED 500,000, according to federal law.
The UAE's fundraising laws state:
Any fundraising activity, whether money or items, and promotions for it should have prior approval through charity organisations licensed by the IACAD.
This also includes:
- Persons running for a marathon, for example, online campaigns for charitable causes or similar
- It also means UAE residents shouldn't promote charities from other countries whilst living in the UAE
- If children at school are fundraising, the school should obtain the necessary approvals
- Animal organisations and rescue groups or similar should have approvals
Dr. Al Shamsi further clarifies why fundraising is monitored in the UAE, adding that cyber-crimes may lead to deception and the funding of terrorist activities.
"The phenomenon harms the UAE whose humanitarian organisations set a good example of humanitarian and charitable work through legal channels."
Cyber laws in the UAE
As social media is the most popular platform used by individuals when fundraising, there are a few things UAE residents should be aware of when using social media as a resident in the country.
First of all...
All online interactions on social networking sites are scanned in the UAE.
The campaign, Social Networking Monitoring, which is a programme launched by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) sets out to scan all social media interactions in the UAE and searches for any offensive and abusive language directed against the state or the government or authorities.
Channels like Twitter and Facebook are monitored in an effort to clamp down on illegal behaviour - and this includes fundraising online.
We urge any social media user to be cautious of their posts, and to ensure they are not offensive at all times.