The UAE has several regulatory laboratories (RegLabs) or sandboxes that test emerging technologies. Read about them here. The RegLab has issued temporary licences to test electric cargo aircraft, eVTOL aircraft, health data repository and disease registry, self-driving vehicles and fractional bonds. Also read about a regulatory sandbox for the insurance sector.
Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) launched the first experimental legislative environment for the ICT sector, the ICT Regulatory Sandbox, on the sidelines of the World Government Summit 2023.
The ICT Regulatory Sandbox is a preemptive framework that creates an agile regulatory environment to launch innovative ICT services and solutions. It enhances innovation and creative thinking, supports digital economic growth and provides an agile regulatory environment that ensures the sustainability of the sector.
RegLab - Legislation governing the use and application of technologies
The UAE’s Regulations Lab ‘RegLab’ is designed to proactively anticipate and develop future legislation governing the use and applications of emerging technologies in the UAE in ways that maximise the benefits and minimise the risks. It aims to create projects that can be adopted by policy-makers, legislators and regulators worldwide.
RegLab was launched in January 2019 in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation, pursuant to a federal law issued in 2018 authorising the UAE Cabinet to grant temporary licences for the testing and vetting of innovations that utilise future technologies and its applications such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
It aims to create a reliable and transparent legislative environment, introduce new or develop existing legislation, regulate advanced technological products and applications in support of Vision 2021 and UAE Centennial 2071 Plan.
Collaborates with business leaders and tech innovators
Works closely with lawmakers from local and federal authorities to develop legislation governing technology
Incubates and creates new market based on technology pilots
Supports the UAE's role as a testbed for emerging technology
Reglab operating model
RegLab operating model
Through Reglab platform and our partners
Regulation use-case sprints
Workshops with government entities and private sectors who are involved in the experimentation
UAE Cabinet approval
UAE Cabinet approves a number of MVL licenses
Licensing impact assessment
Through Reglab platform and our partners and recommend required regulation
Electric cargo aircraft
In March 2023, the UAE Regulations Lab at the General Secretariat of the Cabinet issued a licence for an electric cargo aircraft as part of its efforts to promote sustainable and eco-friendly transportation and enhance the sustainability of the air cargo industry in the UAE.
The licence is aimed at reducing carbon emissions by encouraging the adoption of clean energy and leveraging technology and innovation to redefine the logistics sector's future and its impact on the environment and climate. The issuance of the electric aircraft licence is in line with the RegLab's national mission to align regulation with innovation.
The new sustainable aircraft licence provides a robust legislative framework for operating a new generation of cargo aircraft that uses clean energy, supporting the UAE's efforts to launch proactive eco-friendly initiatives and programmes aimed at bolstering the economic system's competitiveness.
The health data repository project features two phases:
establishing links with stakeholders
conducting advanced studies using data science and artificial intelligence among other techniques and tools.
The national disease registration system is one of the pioneering initiatives in the field of disease surveillance and registration, intended to monitor, record, and analyse patient data to raise its quality on a comprehensive national level for the most prevalent diseases in the country.
The first step involves developing a disease registry system by creating digital dashboards for various health indicators. The next step involves the automation of the process of issuing reports to ensure improved data quality and reduction in time to execute these tasks.
The UAE approved a temporary licence to test self-driving vehicles, as a part of its continuous efforts to adopt advanced technologies in all sectors.The UAE is the first country in the Middle East and the second globally to test the application of self-driving vehicles.
The UAE issued pilot licence for the fractional bonds project, which will be carried out under the supervision of the Securities and Commodities Authority. The project aims to facilitate the adoption of innovative financial products and solutions and meet the requirements of investors in accordance with the best international standards in terms of credibility and confidentiality.
RegLab works closely with lawmakers from federal and local government authorities, as well as the private sector and business leaders to develop legislations governing vital future sectors influencing humanity and support the UAE’s role as a global incubator of innovations and creative projects.
The ADGM RegLab is a specially-tailored regulatory framework which provides a controlled environment for FinTech participants to develop and test innovative FinTech solutions. As the first RegLab in the region and the world’s second most active FinTech sandbox, the RegLab is designed to foster innovation within the UAE financial services market for both new market entrants and existing financial institutions.
By creating a regulated, safe environment RegLab has been designed to allow FinTech innovation to be tested without being subjected to the full suite of regulatory requirements that would otherwise apply to traditional financial services firms. The set-up will allow FinTech participants to explore and develop FinTech solutions in a risk appropriate and cost-effective environment.
Application and submission to the ADGM RegLab is done in cohorts. ADGM publicly announces when it starts accepting applications for the next cohort. The ADGM Reglab is for all participants active in the FinTech space, from start-ups to existing, regulated companies.
To qualify, FinTech participants must demonstrate an innovative technological solution at a stage of development, ready for testing. The solution should also contribute to the development of the financial sector in the UAE.
The Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Programme is DFSA’s version of a regulatory sandbox that provides a controlled environment within which ITL holders can test and develop their innovation products and services. As it is a licenced-sandbox, applicants must apply to DFSA and complete an authorisation process. The first stage of the process involves submitting an application for consideration. The second stage involves submitting an application for DFSA’s authorisation to operate within the ITL Programme.
The Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Programme aims at:
maintaining regulatory objectives
providing a controlled environment to test innovative financial products and services
providing a gateway to innovative market participants
enhancing supervisory understanding.
Regulatory sandbox for the insurance sector
The Central Bank of the UAE deployed their regulatory sandbox as one of the initiatives in the insurance sector, in response to the rapid developments in the digital technology that are transforming the economic and financial landscape, as well as, creating opportunities and posing challenges for the insured, policyholders, beneficiaries, affected stakeholders, companies, related professions and regulators. These developments are mostly led by the private sector, driven by the global digitisation and technological development forces that are re-shaping numerous aspects of the world's economies and societies.
The Central Bank of the UAE, Insurance Sector, issued Sandbox Regulation to define the regulatory framework for the operation and management of the experimental environment of the insurance sector. The document aims to:
understand the products to be introduced and identify the risks associated with them and to ensure a satisfactory level for customers during the pilot period
transform the UAE insurance market into a smart insurance market
support the emerging Emirati FinTech companies
create an attractive environment for the insurance sector using innovative systems, as well as making it a platform to interact with FinTech companies, improving the regulatory framework, and contributing to economic growth and risk management.
A regulatory sandbox is a regulatory approach, typically summarized in writing and published, that allows live, time-bound testing of innovations under a regulator’s oversight. Novel financial products, technologies, and business models can be tested under a set of rules, supervision requirements, and appropriate safeguards.