Asbestos Confusion in the United Arab Emirates 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



A recent newspaper article claimed that the use of asbestos had been prohibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2006.1 If this were indeed the case, it seems strange that as recently as 2009, the UAE consumed in excess of 26,000 tonnes of asbestos.2 Clarification has been obtained on the status of asbestos in the UAE from a reliable source who explained that while Cabinet Resolution 39 of November 2006 prohibited the manufacture, use and import of asbestos for asbestos boards, the language of the resolution did not define the nature of what constitutes a board. Furthermore, UAE legislation does not prohibit the import, production or use of asbestos-cement water pipes.

As well as the ongoing use of asbestos, other hazardous practices persist in the UAE such as the demolition of buildings containing asbestos, the re-use of discarded asbestos products and the haphazard disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste.


Badly damaged Asbestos-cement debris left on site after demolition, Abu Dhabi, 2012.



Dumping of asbestos-cement sheeting and debris, Abu Dhabi, 2012.

There is the expertise and personnel in Abu Dhabi capable of conducting safe removal of asbestos.


Example of good practice in asbestos removal work. Abu Dhabi, 2012.



Example of good practice in asbestos removal work. Abu Dhabi, 2012.

Unfortunately, until there is the political will in the UAE to enact and enforce strict legislation regarding the import, use and manufacture of all types of asbestos and asbestos-containing products and laws which mandate the means required to protect the public, workers and consumers from the asbestos hazard, the UAE will continue to experience asbestos-related deaths for decades to come

June 11, 2012


1 Todorova V. Asbestos 'still killer' six years after ban. May 20, 2012.

2 Data sourced from the United States Geological Survey.



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