Sunday, July 7, 2013

GITs enforce social club licensing in UAE

Zealous warriors of the still informal Aiur Defiant clan that we are, I and my three UAE-based StarCraft buddies wanted to start having regular LAN parties, complete with blue rock candy and green incense. Alas, we wasted much time wringing our hands in confusion, completely "at a loss over how to go about organising" ourselves, let alone "how to draft a constitution" [1].

Thankfully, we came to know of a benevolent body known as the Community Development Authority, which would be there to support us with these critical functions, and even ensure that we were "sustainable for many years" and wouldn't "get diluted or dissolved" [1]. Since we had no idea about how to use Google or our social networks to research the local network gaming scene, they would also ensure that we were "filling the social gaps, and not those that are already in abundance" instead of "supporting something that is already being saturated in terms of support" [1]. All we needed to do was register.

We would then even be able to "open a bank account, employ people, hold activities, or seek support externally" 
[1]. Okay, we were not sure we really needed facilities like those, as we were not planning on doing public ticketed and/or sponsored events like many of Dubai's performance art groups (which, by the way, must surely have been registered with the CDA in order to have gotten the requisite DTCM permissions all these years). But it appears that, regardless of scale or activity, any gathering of three or more persons qualifies as a group in urgent need of legal recognition [2]. Without which they can be fined up to AED 10,000 [1]. Okay, when they put it that way ...

Looking up the requirements, we saw that worry was unnecessary, as the process was simple and offered great value. Licensing costs a mere AED 2000. Every 2 years [3]. No problem, that's just ... AED 250 for each of us per year. Hey, it's better than the 10K fine. Also, they required basic documentation, just to get to know us better. You know, specifying "location details" and "proof of location availability", laying out a "2 year budget plan" and "financial plans", and identifying "board members" and "organizational structure" [3]. I'm sure 99% of the clubs in Dubai have those issues sorted out; after all, these requirements have been in place since 1995 
[2], and this is the sort of law any reasonable person would look up when starting a Scrabble circle or such.

Yes, it's a bit of work, but at least we won't have to worry about getting slapped with a massive fine and/or a shutdown notice when the ever-vigilant Government Inspection Teams (GITs, incidentally) storm our basement clan lair in the middle of a tournament [2], or surprise us while on patrol at the next IGN convention [1]. Yup, I'm so glad those GITs are around to protect us from all the exploitative gamer clans that would surely take the hapless public to the cleaners in the absence of these regulations.

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