Drone in Morocco

Understanding the Ban on Drone Usage in Morocco: Causes and Implications

Urban Legend?

This rumor goes that there was a significant incident which ruined it for everyone: an individual irresponsibly flew his drone above the king’s residence in Agadir. This reckless action heightened security concerns, as it demonstrated how easily drones could breach sensitive areas. Consequently, the government enforced stricter regulations on drone usage to protect national security and prevent similar breaches. Such incidents underscore the importance of controlled drone operations, ensuring that unauthorized flights do not pose threats to important sites or compromise the safety of high-profile individuals. Therefore, tighter controls and permits became essential to mitigate potential risks associated with drone flights.

Drone Usage in Morocco a National security risk?

Morocco was and is still in a state of semi/cold war with Algeria via its proxy Polisario Front, so any smuggled drone can be a fatal threat to its national defense, because its secret military distribution and positioned weapons on the borders will be easily discovered by its enemies. To allow civilians to acquire and freely use drones, it would need to have special radars and qualified persons in each military zone that continuously scan approaching flying objects and shoot any suspicious one. This seems to be costly for Morocco, so it’s better to ban them from the start. However, one can acquire and legally use a drone in Morocco if they get permission with a small fee from the local authority, but they are forced to explain where, when, and who they are shooting.

A general explanation

In recent years, the adoption of drones has proliferated, serving as indispensable tools in fields ranging from photography and videography to surveillance and commercial ventures. However, certain regions, including Morocco, have imposed stringent restrictions or outright bans on their usage due to concerns related to security, data privacy, and national sovereignty.

Morocco, like many nations, places paramount importance on safeguarding its airspace against potential threats such as espionage and terrorist activities. Unauthorized drone operations present a significant risk to national security, facilitating unauthorized surveillance and reconnaissance activities.

Moreover, the widespread proliferation of drones has raised legitimate concerns regarding data privacy among Moroccan citizens. Unregulated drone flights possess the potential to infringe upon individuals’ privacy rights by capturing imagery or footage without their explicit consent, giving rise to legal and ethical quandaries necessitating governmental intervention.

Safety considerations also underscore the rationale behind the ban, as uncontrolled drone operations pose hazards to both individuals and infrastructure. In densely populated areas or near critical facilities like airports and government buildings, drones pose collision risks and operational disruptions. Incidents involving drones colliding with aircraft or crashing into vital installations underscore the imperative of regulating their usage to ensure public safety.

In response to these concerns, Moroccan authorities have instituted comprehensive regulatory frameworks governing drone operations. Individuals or entities seeking to deploy drones for commercial, recreational, or research purposes must obtain permits adhering to specified guidelines and restrictions, emphasizing safety protocols and privacy protection measures.

While the imposition of restrictions may inconvenience enthusiasts, photographers, and businesses seeking to leverage drone technology, it underscores the government’s commitment to prioritizing national security, privacy preservation, and public safety. Regulatory oversight aims to mitigate potential risks and ensure responsible drone usage aligned with legal and ethical standards.

As technological advancements continue, governments worldwide must adapt regulatory frameworks to address emerging challenges. The Moroccan drone ban underscores the complexities inherent in integrating drones into society, necessitating judicious oversight to govern their deployment effectively.

Morocco, known for its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers a plethora of guided tours tailored to different interests and preferences. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the Sahara Desert, immersion in Moroccan culture, indulgence in luxury accommodations, or exploration with a group, Morocco has something for everyone. From guided cultural tours through historic cities like Marrakech and Fes to adventurous expeditions in the Atlas Mountains, the possibilities are endless.

So, while drone usage may be restricted in Morocco, the country’s vibrant tourism industry continues to thrive, offering unforgettable experiences for travelers seeking to explore its wonders

During Pandemic

RABAT – Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitisation.

“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese drone company DJI.

Moroccan firms have been using drones for years and Qamous says it “is among the most advanced countries in Africa” for unmanned flight, with a dedicated industrial base, researchers and qualified pilots.

But restrictive regulations have long limited civilian drones to specific applications such as filming, agriculture, monitoring solar panels and mapping.

That changed rapidly as the novel coronavirus swept across the world.

In recent weeks, authorities have employed drones to issue warnings, identify suspicious movement in the streets and disperse illegal rooftop and balcony gatherings.

A strict lockdown imposed in March has not been uniformly respected, with local media reporting on nighttime gatherings of neighbours and collective prayers on roofs, beyond the view of street patrols.

‘Vital technology’

Last week local authorities in Temara, a town near the capital Rabat, launched a high-precision aerial surveillance system developed by local company Beti3D, which previously specialised in aerial mapping.

Other countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have also adopted technology deployed in China since the start of the pandemic, whether for tracking the movements of citizens, disinfecting public spaces or facilitating deliveries.

“Drones have quickly emerged as a vital technology for public safety agencies during this crisis as they can safely monitor public spaces,” according to the website of DJI, by far the world’s top drone maker.

Like most countries, Morocco primarily uses imported Chinese drones. But the emergence of new applications linked to the pandemic is also driving local production of specialised aerial vehicles.

“There is real demand,” said Abderrahmane Krioual, the head of Farasha, a startup that has raised funds to produce drones for thermal surveillance and aerial disinfectant spraying.

The aeronautics department of the International University of Rabat (UIR) offered its facilities, expertise and prototypes to authorities in March, deploying drones with loudspeakers or infrared cameras able to detect movement at night or spot individuals with high temperatures.

Several projects are underway across the country ahead of the widespread deployment of various models of drones, said Mohsine Bouya, the university’s director of technology development and transfer.

Teams are also developing tracking applications, but “we’ll have to wait for a change to the law” before launching them, he said.

Drone Usage in Morocco. Flying drone equipped with a thermal camera in a street of Harhoura near Rabat
Source: https://middle-east-online.com/en/morocco-unleashes-fleet-drones-combat-virus

Big brother is watching you from the air

Moroccan authorities declined to comment on the use of drones or the numbers deployed since the start of the public health emergency in mid-March.

Unlike in some countries, the use of surveillance drones has not sparked public debate in Morocco, where the kingdom’s strong response to the pandemic is widely supported.

Morocco closed its borders early and tasked law enforcement with imposing strict confinement measures on the population.

They include movement restrictions and the compulsory wearing of masks, with a nighttime curfew since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – enforced by a heavy police presence.

Those found guilty of violating lockdown measures face one to three months in prison, a fine equivalent to $125, or both.

Officials say police have arrested 85,000 people for breaching lockdown measures between March 15 and April 30, bringing 50,000 prosecutions.

Authorities say the measures have limited transmission of the virus, with 5,382 COVID-19 cases reported including 182 deaths and 1,969 recoveries since the crisis began.

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read more: https://www.droneblog.com/can-you-bring-a-drone-to-morocco/

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