The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced on 14th March 2022, the enforcement of Law No. (9) of 2022 ‘Regulating the Provision of Digital Services’ in the Emirate of Dubai from 24th March 2022 to improve and enhance the quality of digital services in Dubai as well as to drive the emirate’s digital transformation journey. The law complements the federal digital and data laws in the UAE and mandates all Government departments to offer online services in multiple languages with no additional cost burden to the customer.
Dubai Government Media Office said, “Government entities and judicial authorities, including Dubai Courts and Dubai Public Prosecution, as well as non-government entities in Dubai, are required to provide digital services to their customers.”
It also added, “The chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai will issue a decision on the various stages of implementing the Law, in line with the recommendations of the Digital Dubai Authority.”
The law applies to both digital services provided by the Dubai government and non-government establishments and outlines key requirements for efficient and effective delivery of digital services.
The General Secretariat of the Executive Council, the Dubai Digital Authority (DDA) and the Dubai Electronic Security Centre (DESC) are held responsible as competent authorities to oversee the enforcement and implementation of the law that encompasses the delivery of digital services across the entire gamut of digital channels including websites and other internet applications.
A one-year grace period has been provided for meeting the requirements of the law and can be extended by the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai. The law speaks of phased roll-out and implementation of the provisions of the law.
The key features outlined in this law are:
1- The law is applicable throughout the Emirate of Dubai, including all the free zones in Dubai and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
2- Digital services standards shall be documented and rolled out by the appropriate competent authority for effective implementation by the digital services providers once the technical and organizational requirements for the provision of digital services are identified and established.
3- Disruptions in digital services shall be an essential part of digital services standards needing adequate addressal by the digital services providers through business continuity and data security.
4- Data security and privacy requirements will be the vital features of these legal standards and shall address all requirements including data retention, data classification, data security and data accuracy. Privacy compliance programs must also be periodically reviewed to ensure the fulfilment of all requirements of the law.
5- The Dubai Development Authority (DDA) is responsible for approving the appropriate digital identification tools in line with the electronic transactions and trust services law of the UAE.
6- Digital services need to be provided in Arabic and English as a minimum to ensure accessibility to all Dubai residents.
6- All digital transactions shall be equal in status to physical transactions carried out in person.
7- Digital services provided in Dubai must be easily accessible and all customers are legally binding to update the information to digital service providers as and when necessary.
8- The digital services providers can outsource their services from a public or private sector company, with approval from the Department of Finance.
In Dubai, most of the government departments that previously needed residents to physically visit their offices for bill payments, and tenancy contract approvals have largely transitioned to online services mostly through app-based portals. An in-person visit is now sufficient to get a driving license or residency visa. Even setting up a business in Dubai has become much easier, faster and more affordable in the absence of bureaucracy and red tapes.
Additional technical guides and resolutions for effective implementation of the law shall be issued over the coming months by the DDA and other relevant authorities.