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.

First Stage (1968-1969)

Abu Dhabi Customs is one of the oldest governmental departments in the Emirate. After the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God have mercy upon him) took office in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on 6/8/1966, he issued Emiri Decree No. (2) Of 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 Ports".

The late Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalid Al Nahyan chaired the departments of Customs and Ports while the number of employees was only three. At that time, there was no dock 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 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 Brook Building, located in Al- Mina Street, 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 moved to Abu Dhabi Customs building in Mina Zayed Area 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 1990 four devices for baggage scanning working by X-ray were installed. In 1993 a device for scanning big parcels was installed in the shipping section of Abu Dhabi Airport. 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, specifically 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 endeavorsEfforts 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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