Hobbyists are no longer allowed to use consumer drones in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The announcement comes following a suspected drone attack last week on an oil complex and airport in Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital.
The prohibition was issued on Saturday by the Ministry of the Interior, and it includes light aircraft such as gliders. In its statement, the ministry did not specifically name the recent attacks, but did cite “misuse detected recently,” incidences of drone pilots “trespassing into places where these types of operations are prohibited,” and the need to “protect the safety of persons and property.”
According to APNews, the recent attack on the oil plant and airport in Abu Dhabi involved both “ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones,” albeit the size and kind of these drones were not specified. The Houthi fighters group claimed responsibility for the strikes. The Houthi fighters group now controls vast areas of neighboring Yemen and is fighting a coalition of forces supported by Arab countries, including the UAE.
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In recent years, Houthi rebels have used tiny drones in a number of strikes on Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Last week’s strike, on the other hand, marked a significant increase in tension. According to BBC News, this is the first time the UAE has publicly recognized such attacks, and it’s also the first time they’ve proved fatal, with three people killed and six more injured.
A prohibition on recreational drone use might potentially assist the UAE in maintaining tighter control over its skies. According to APNews, the country has already imposed restrictions on flying over residential areas and near airports. Exceptions may be made for “labor contracts or commercial or advertising ventures that rely on drone cinematography,” according to the country’s interior ministry, if those engaged have obtained “the required exceptions and licenses.”