Setting up a charity
UAE nationals wishing to set up a charitable organisation in the UAE can apply online to Ministry of Community Development.
Expatriate residents need to submit their application to the ministry through their respective embassy or consulate in the UAE.
The ministry will consider the application and refer it to the Cabinet, which takes the final decision on registering the organisation.
In Abu Dhabi, Department of Community Development (DCD) grants initial approvals and licensing of civil society foundations and institutions of public interest.
In Dubai, the following entities can give official recognition and licenses for charitable organisations, NGOs and humanitarian relief organisations:
Government entities responsible for social, charitable and humanitarian work within and outside the UAE:
Charitable organisations in the UAE:
Humanitarian organisations for women:
Donating and raising funds
Federal Law No. 3 of 2021 Concerning the Regulation of Fundraising Activities ( PDF, 3.89 MB; available in Arabic) aims to regulate the fund-raising activities and donations for charities in the UAE. It pronounces the rules for charitable donations and governs the functioning of non-profit organisations. It applies to any association that wants to collect or provide donations in the country, on the mainland and in free zones. The law aims to protect fund-raisers and their funds from the risks of exploitation in financing terrorism and illegal organisations.
Who can raise funds?
Fund-raising activity, whether it is carried out through traditional or digital methods, is restricted to entities classified by law as charitable and humanitarian organisations and to government and non-government public interest institutions whose decrees, laws, or resolutions of establishment confirm that they may conduct such activities.
According to the law, natural persons are not allowed to host, organise or carry out any fund-raising activity.
How to raise funds?
Any non-profit association that wishes to raise any type of donations in the UAE, must first obtain a licence from Ministry of Community Development or a competent authority in each emirate. Additionally, fund-raising must be done through one of the licensed charities or humanitarian organisations in the UAE. Also, the applicant must:
- get the approval from the respective charity
- state the objectives of the fund-raising
- list the names and present the ID’s of the persons in charge of the operation
- mention the beneficiaries
- list the places where fund-raising will be carried out.
Penalty for raising funds through unauthorised means
Raising funds by natural persons or unauthorised organisations is punishable with imprisonment and heavy fines.
All you need to know about donations regulatory law.- MoCD
Additional regulations on fundraising
Paying zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is disbursed to those who are entitled to it as per the Holy Qur’an. Zakat Fund accepts zakat and allocates it to its projects and activities. It provides its services to the beneficiaries throughits partners. As of 2021, there are 21 projects and 43 payment channels.
How to apply for Zakat?
If you meet the criteria to receive Zakat as determined by the UAE’s Zakat Fund, you can request for zakat online. You can also apply for a petition to restudy your case if your request was rejected or the amount allocated is insufficient. You can check processing time for each service in the service card itself.
Zakat payment channels
You can pay Zakat through:
Taking care of prisoners' families
According to Federal Law No. 2 of 2001, Ministry of Community Development provides monthly assistance to the families of prisoners.
You can contribute to the care and rehabilitation of prisoners and their families in cooperation with:
Begging for alms is a crime. The fasting month of Ramadan historically records an influx of people arriving into the country as part of an elaborate con to raise funds, stated the UAE's Ministry of Interior. Read about UAE’s Federal Law on anti-begging and channels to report beggars.