Trade secret and confidential information laws and regulations
Scope of protection
Relevant international treaties
Other controlling laws

This article is the first in a series outlining the practical aspects of trade secrets legislation and procedure in the United Arab Emirates. In particular, this article sets out the relevant legislation.(1)

Trade secret and confidential information laws and regulations

Trade secrets and confidential information are not registered – there is not a single federal law covering the regulation of these rights. Instead, the following laws may apply:

  • the Commercial Companies Law;(2)
  • the Civil Code,(3) as amended;
  • the Law on the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law;(4)
  • the Law concerning the Regulation and Protection of Industrial Property Rights;(5) and
  • the Law on Regulation of Labour Relations.(6)

Scope of protection

As there is not a single law dealing with trade secrets in the United Arab Emirates, there is not a single UAE definition. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in order for information to be deemed a trade secret, it must be:

  • commercially valuable because it is secret;
  • known only to a limited group of persons; and
  • subject to reasonable steps taken by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret, including the use of confidentiality agreements for business partners and employees.

Relevant international treaties

The United Arab Emirates is a signatory to the WIPO Convention (24 September 1974).

Other controlling laws

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Intellectual Property Law(7) and the DIFC Intellectual Property Regulations define trade secrets and discuss the rights of owners and what constitutes the misappropriation of a trade secret. However, the DIFC law and regulations are only enforceable in the DIFC (a free zone located in Dubai as an "offshore" region) and therefore will have no effect in the rest of the United Arab Emirates.

For further information on this topic please contact Richard Gaugeler at Bird & Bird by telephone (+44 20 7415 6000) or email ([email protected]). The Bird & Bird website can be accessed at


(1) For the first article in a similar series on trade secret law in Saudi Arabia, see "Practical guide to trade secrets in Saudi Arabia: relevant legislation". For the first article in a similar series on patent law in the United Arab Emirates, see "Practical guide to patents in the United Arab Emirates: relevant legislation".

(2) Federal Decree Law No. 32 of 2021.

(3) Federal Law No. 5 of 1985.

(4) Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021.

(5) Federal Law No. 11 of 2021.

(6) Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021.

(7) No. 4 of 2019.