Property rights and the protection of personal belongings are essential aspects of any society governed by the rule of law. In the UAE, specific laws and regulations are in place to safeguard property.

This article explores the key provisions of UAE laws related to property protection and owner's rights, specifically focusing on Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021, Dubai Administrative Decision No. 1/2016, Dubai Law No. 5/2015, and Sharjah Executive Council Decision No. 10/2021.

Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021: Protection of Lost Property

Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021, known as the UAE penal code, includes provisions related to lost property. Article 454 of this law specifies that any person who takes possession of lost property owned by another, with the intent to own it, may face a jail sentence of up to two years or a fine of not less than AED twenty thousand.

This law emphasizes the importance of respecting the rights of property owners and discourages any form of unauthorized possession of lost items.

Dubai Administrative Decision No. 1/2016: Handling Lost and Abandoned Property

Dubai Administrative Decision No. 1/2016 outlines the procedures for managing lost and abandoned property within the Emirate of Dubai, providing clear definitions and guidelines for proper handling.

According to Article 2 of the law, terms such as Lost Property, Abandoned Property, Owner of Lost Property, and Finder are defined to ensure clarity and consistency in the application of the law.

The decision also outlines the procedures for reporting lost property, emphasizing the importance of accurate documentation and proof of ownership when reporting lost items.

The competencies of the Dubai Police in dealing with lost and abandoned property are detailed under this law:

  • The Police are responsible for receiving reports of lost property.
  • They receive and preserve lost property in a suitable place.
  • Special records are created to document lost property, including its description, condition, date, time of finding, and place of discovery.
  • The Police are responsible for estimating the expenses related to the preservation, announcement, and disposition of lost property.

Dubai Law No. 5/2015 and Dubai Administrative Decision No. 1/2016 specify that the Dubai Police must preserve lost property for a minimum of one year from the date of discovery. During this period, the Police may announce the existence of lost property through various means, including electronic methods.

Owners of lost property in Dubai have certain rights and avenues for recovery:

  • Owners can reclaim their lost property before the Police dispose of
  • If the lost property has already been sold, owners have the right to claim its price within a specified timeframe.
  • In cases where multiple individuals claim ownership of the same property, the competent court will issue a final judgment regarding ownership.

Finders of lost property in Dubai may be recognized and rewarded for their honesty:

  • Finders may receive gratitude certificates as recognition of their integrity.
  • They may also receive financial rewards, which can amount to up to 10% of the value of the lost property, not exceeding AED 50,000. Certain conditions and restrictions apply, such as the absence of kinship between the finder and the owner of the lost property.

Sharjah Executive Council Decision No. 10/2021: Handling Lost and Abandoned Property

Sharjah also has its legal framework for property protection and owner's rights governed by Sharjah Executive Council Decision No. 10/2021. The law establishes procedures for handling lost and abandoned property in Sharjah:

  • Finders of lost property in Sharjah must hand it over to the Sharjah Police within 48 hours from the date of finding it. They are prohibited from disposing of or holding the property with the intention of possession.
  • While the law in Sharjah does not specify a minimum preservation period for lost property, the Police have the authority to dispose of lost property under certain circumstances, such as when it is feared to be damaged or destroyed, or when the costs of keeping and announcing it exceed its value.

Owner's Rights and Recovery of Lost Property in Sharjah

  • Owners of lost property in Sharjah have the right to recover their belongings before they are disposed of by the Police. If the property has already been sold, owners can claim its price within a specified timeframe.

Rights and Rewards for Finders in Sharjah

  • The law in Sharjah allows for recognition and rewards for finders of lost property. Finders may receive rewards or recognition as determined by the authorities.

Handling of Lost Property in Other Emirates

In addition to Dubai and Sharjah, all emirates in the UAE have entrusted their Police Departments with the authority to manage and oversee matters related to lost and abandoned property. Each emirate's Police Department plays a central role in implementing the laws and regulations governing the handling of lost property within its jurisdiction. In all emirates, the Police Departments have been designated as the competent authorities to ensure that lost and abandoned property is managed in a systematic and organized manner, safeguarding the rights of both property owners and finders.


Across the UAE, these laws and procedures ensure that lost and abandoned property is handled fairly and systematically, respecting the interests of both property owners and finders.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.