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Abu Dhabi Customs


The UAE represents a connection between the East and the West because of its geographical position. Researches conducted by Danish archaeological Mission proved that Island of Umm Al Nar adjacent to Abu Dhabi was a prosperous seaport since about five thousand years ago and has been a center of active trade with Indian subcontinent.

The General Administration of Customs is among the first government departments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi when late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Peace be upon his soul) issued an Emiri Decree in 1966 to establish number of governmental departments. Firstly chaired by the late Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Nahyan, staff were only three. The port was only barrels filled with cement. In September 1968 scope of work was widened, the department moved into a new building and the number of staff was increased to fifteen employees.

The General Administration of customs continued to achieve its goals and recorded a very solid figures of income to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through the years. Number of employees is above 1500 employees now.

The General Administration of Customs aims to implement the customs policy prescribed by authorities. The supervision of goods export, import and re-export as well as the collection of customs duties assessed on goods in accordance with the laws and regulations of the authorities.

The Abu Dhabi General Administration of Customs uses the latest detection and computer systems for the development of work and to facilitate customs inspections while completing transactions quickly and accurately. Non-Intrusive Inspection technology is becoming a cornerstone of Abu Dhabi Customs layered enforcement strategy. Technologies used at our air, sea, and land border posts include large-scale X-ray -imaging systems as well as portable and hand-held technologies, to include radiation detection equipment.

The General Administration of Customs has achieved a milestone by the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Customs Institute. Abu Dhabi Customs and The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed a MoU that aims at providing technical assistance and consultancy in establishing and developing Abu Dhabi Customs Academy in Abu Dhabi. Another MoU was signed between General Administration of Customs and Higher Colleges of Technology- Abu Dhabi. The agreement aimed to develop the customs staff and enrich them with knowledge and skills required to improve customs work and provide them with Academic Certificates.

The Training and Capacity Building Department is in charge of training activities. It conducts several training courses ranking from local courses within Abu Dhabi Customs Institute to outside courses whether within UAE and abroad. In addition to that, the department sends staff to participate in international sessions conducted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in order to create a good understanding of Customs concepts and modern techniques.

Hosting of the Regional Office of Capacity Building is one of the most important achievements of Abu Dhabi Customs. The office was activated directly after a signing of a MoU took place between the World Customs Organization, the UAE Federal Customs Authority, and Abu Dhabi General Administration of Customs.

The Abu Dhabi General Administration of Customs continues to walk steadily towards achieving its vision of homeland security and a prosperous economy. It also seeks to strengthen cooperation with customs administrations in various parts of the world through the incorporation of modern technology to keep pace with modern innovations and developments. Its achievements were a harvest added to its prestige status among its peers.

First Stage (1968- 1969)

Abu Dhabi Customs is one of the oldest governmental departments in the Emirate. After His Royal Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahya -may the Mercy of Allah be upon him- took office in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on 6/8/1966, he issued Emiri Decree No. (2) Of 18/9/1966 (A.D) incorporating a number of governmental departments and appointing heads therefor from Al Nahyan Sheikhs and experts to participate in shouldering the responsibility of the country and citizens, and among these departments were "departments of finance, customs and harbors".

                   Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalid Al Nahyan -may the Mercy of Allah be upon him- chaired the departments of customs and harbors and while the number of their employees was only three. At that time there was no pier, but barrels filled with cement which used to force ships to anchor away from the land so that workers can navigate to transport goods.

                  On 14/9/1968 the scope of work expanded and the premises of the Department was moved to the new building nearby the formerly Clock Tower, Abu Dhabi corniche, i.e. nearby the current premises of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry The number of employees in the Department of Customs reached fifteen employees.

          On May 31, 1969 an Emiri Decree was issued stipulating the following:

First: The following items shall be exempted from customs duties:

Seeds- dried dates- live sheep and goats- cattle- camels- horses- live birds- religious books- newspapers and magazines- money and gold.

Second: Customs duties on cigarette shall increase to 15% from 2.5%, and customs duties on alcoholic beverages shall increase to 20% from 2.5%.

                                                                  Third: 2.5% shall be collected on goods exported abroad.

The Department of Customs has its main branch in Abu Dhabi Port and other branches in Abu Dhabi Airport, Al- Maqatta (Picture no. 2), Tarif and Das Island.

Customs revenue indicates the commercial activity movement of the Emirate during the years:
1966 73354 Bahraini Dinars
1967 228915 Kuwaiti Dinars

Second Stage (1970 - 2002)

This period witnessed a noticeable development. During the period (1970-1973), the premises of Customs Department was still on Corniche nearby the formerly Clock Tower, but the number of employees doubled to reach 71 employees. During the period (1973-1979), the premises of the Department was moved to Bin Bruk Building, located in Al- Mina Street, (Picture No. 2), and then was moved to the building of the department of finance, occupying four floors of the building, one of which was used as a warehouse during the period (1979-1984) until it was finally moved to the current building in 1984.

During this period, Law No. (3) Of 1982 concerning Customs Clearance was issued setting the conditions for opening customs clearance office and practicing such profession as well as the requirements of such office. Meanwhile, customs competencies were assigned to the Customs Department, which by law reported to the Department of Finance during the year 1984.Law No.(3) 1991 was also issued establishing the Department of Customs and the Department of Finance to make customs independent from the Department of Finance.

Additionally, this period marked a big leap forward towards establishing the rules and principles governing customs work. Computer system was adopted and strenuous efforts were made to find a cadre having a considerable experience and efficiency on the level of the Department as well as all sections and divisions thereof. Modern scanning devices were also used to help discovering and seizing contrabands and prohibited items. In Abu Dhabi Airport in the year 1990 four devices for baggage scanning working by X-ray were installed (Picture no.5). In the year 1993 a device for scanning big parcels was installed in the shipping section of Abu Dhabi Airport (Picture no.4). On 31/3/1994 Al Ain international Airport was inaugurated to be the eastern window of the country.

During this stage, Abu Dhabi foreign trade revenue from non-oil products in 1999 amounted to 22.489 billion. Foreign trade revenue from oil products in the first half of 2001 was one billion five hundred and fifty million dirhams.

Third Stage(2002-2008)

This period begins by the enforcement of the Unified Customs Law for the GCC countries 1/1/2002, and endeavors for achieving this goal started since 1992. This regulation was approved in 1999 and its enforcement played a significant role in unifying customs work between GCC countries. During this period Customs Department was amalgamated to be regulated under the Department of Finance which was chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the Head of the Department of Finance.

                    Foreign trade revenue from non-oil products during the first half of 2004 was eighteen billion and forty eight million dirhams. This shows the exponential increase in the size of Abu Dhabi foreign trade under the wise leadership of His Royal Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of UAE and the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi may Allah save him.

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