Licence must for running social clubs: CDA.
In 2008, Dubai's Community Development Authority (CDA) set out on a mission to license social clubs across the emirate. Asking social, cultural, artistic and entertainment organisations to seek a licence from the authority, the CDA stepped up efforts to make people aware of the legal framework. Dr Omar AbdulAziz Al Muthanna, CEO, Regulatory and Licensing Agency at CDA, explains to Muaz Shabandri how social clubs could benefit from licensing.
What is the social landscape of Dubai?
When we first started, there were 1,000 unlicensed clubs which were operating in Dubai in some form or another. When we approached them, some decided not to continue while others streamlined their activities to follow our structure and get a licence. It is our duty to make sure every association is able to work within the official framework. Not being licensed is not a challenge. At any point of time, if a club wants to convene and form a society representing them officially, an application has to be made to the CDA.
What is the mandate for social club licensing at the CDA?
Our goal is not limited to giving a licence. Our success lies in creating standards and frameworks where the community feels more empowered to set-up clubs and associations which deliver innovative services. More often than not, social clubs represent a group of people who join together for a common goal. We at the CDA empower such clubs by guiding them through the right channels. Currently, we have 41 clubs who are registered with the CDA and an additional 12 clubs have received initial approval.
What are the legal procedures involved in setting up a club?
To operate a club or an association legally, a licence from the CDA is mandatory. If you are not licensed by the CDA, your set-up is not official and you cannot carry on providing services. Those who do not meet our requirements are advised to collaborate with other licensed clubs, which are well organised. These clubs can later re-apply for a licence.
Why do some clubs fail to receive a licence?
A licence is a tool given to empower communities to come together and deliver services. Sometimes applicants do not demonstrate competency and that's when we do not give a licence. We look at certain criteria which include the organisation structure, board members, location, sustainability and other factors. These social clubs need to be sustainable and have programmes which create a long term positive effect on the community.
Clubs with weak proposals who cannot sustain themselves financially and submit weak proposals are also refused a licence.
What are the benefits of licensing a social club?
Our licence gives people an assurance that a social club is working in accordance with the rules recognised by the government. It is a guarantee to the public that a social club is transparent and their activities are not aimed at personal gain. This is a huge responsibility. We reach out to unlicensed clubs and help them set-up a board, carry out elections and operate a club according to the law. This is done to ensure there is no personal gain.
Does the CDA monitor social activities of unlicensed clubs?
Our inspection teams are on the lookout for unlicensed clubs and we track associations which deliver services outside the legal framework. We reach out to such clubs and give them guidelines to become licensed. Any club refusing to follow the CDA framework will be asked to close. We are concerned with social welfare component.
What are the challenges in licensing social clubs which offer similar services?
Associations are a reflection of the community they represent. Communities are formed on the basis of a common ground. It can be something like a common hobby, a health concern, a group of people from a certain nationality. The challenge lies in licensing clubs which provide similar services. Sometimes different associations who deliver the same service approach us. This is where we want clubs to understand the notion of innovation and diversity in social services. People should think of innovative ideas in social services and diversify.
How does the CDA plan to expand its services for social clubs in the future?
As we grow, there will be more licensed clubs. Working closely with licensed associations gives us a better understanding of the needs of society. It is a great way to connect with people. We want to encourage networking between clubs to help them leverage partnerships. When we build communication among non-profit organisations, there will be new ideas. Also, Dubai represents a very diverse community of people. We are here to support these communities and help them reach a position where they can address the needs of people.
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