The interest in drones, both professional and commercial, has been on the rise in the UAE, with photography and video enthusiasts leading the way when it comes to sales. Event management companies are not far behind, with several offering the option of aerial video coverage as part of their packages.
Experts in the UAE have noted that the market for drones has evolved in the region, with retailers offering a variety of different drone models, and regulatory authorities providing an easy route to obtaining filming licences. According to a recent report by consulting firm, Strategy&, the market for drones in the Gulf Cooperation Council is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2022.
TechSci Research noted that the UAE drone market is expected to reach $122 million by 2023; and that growth in the market can be attributed to the rising demand for military and commercial drones, coupled with the proactive involvement of regulatory bodies like the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) in devising policies to support the use of drones in different applications.
Moreover, technological advancements in drones like higher endurance limit is further expected to boost their demand in the coming years.
Globally, the consumer drone market size is set to generate revenues of more than $9 billion and exceed 15 million units by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights Inc. It is expected that by 2020 alone, the retail consumer drone market will grow to around $3.3 billion. Furthermore, the drone industry will have a $8 billion to $10 billion economic impact worldwide, as well as creating 100,000 jobs globally.
Ramzi Khoury, principal with Strategy&, says that the adoption of drones is mainly driven by the need for automation, the necessity of digitising internal processes, and improving quality and the potential of operational efficiency, and cost optimisation. He also explained that the usage of drones is highly efficient in oil and gas, utilities, agriculture, public infrastructure and the public safety sectors, as well as other industries such as mining, telecom and insurance.
"The real value of drone technology for commercial purposes lies in data and advanced analytics that enable a broad set of applications such as surveying/mapping, investment supervision, asset inventory and management, maintenance monitoring and surveillance," he said.
"In the UAE, several drone initiatives/applications have been launched, particularly for traffic monitoring, surveillance, flying taxis, oil spills searches, water and power asset monitoring, litter monitoring, landfill density optimisation, and police patrols."
Hatim Saleh, director of Choppershoot, a dedicated aerial filming company in the UAE that started in 2005, also noted that due to clear regulations to obtains permits, the UAE has one of the highest number of drone operators in the world.
"Now there is no personal or professional film completed without a drone shot," he said. "Drones are not difficult to import if you have all the required paperwork in place. There are clearly laid out requirements that a person needs to meet to be able to import a drone. Remember, local authorities want to make sure that the drone operator is not rouge and has all the required experience, insurance, and registration to fly the drone safely."
Asked about the costs of owning and operating a drone in the UAE, Saleh said: "You are looking at very basic drone for Dh3,000 and a bit more advanced drone for Dh4,500. For a recreational hobbyist licence, the training costs under Dh2,000 and the DCAA registration and licence fees is Dh520. DJI is by far the most popular drone for professional and personal use, and for the movie industry, the Freefly Alta 8 is used to lift heavier digital cinema cameras and prime lenses."
Rizwan Khan, a photography enthusiast in Dubai who operates a DJI Mavic Pro, says that filming with a drone changes your point of view on content and adds another dynamic to your photos and videos. Khan, who has had his drone for over a year now, often takes it with him on his vacations and his drives in the UAE's mountains and wadis. He revealed that at the time, he applied for a drone licence, which cost him Dh300; but he knows that the charges have gone up since then.
"Drones were around way before I got interested in them, but they were bulky and not convenient to travel with. When the Mavic Pro was released, it was the perfect travel companion so I jumped at the opportunity. Technology keeps evolving, and to keep relevant, manufacturers need to push the boundaries of what they offer, otherwise we'll just stagnate," he said.
By Rohma Sadaqat
Copyright © 2019 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.