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Since the country achieved statehood in 1971, the United Arab Emirates’ propulsion into modernity has witnessed the steep growth of the third sector (MOCD, 2019). The UAE’s global economic outlook has also attracted numerous third sector organizations (TSOs) to establish chapters in the UAE (International Humanitarian City, 2020). While the TSOs established in the UAE serve a wide array of public purposes, a large proportion of them were grounded in charitable work. Although the third sector has been steadily growing in the UAE, literary efforts to document this sector were not found in the literature. This paper aims at presenting a preliminary understanding of the current status of TSOs in the UAE. Taking the contextual factors of the UAE into consideration, this paper explores the process of establishing a TSO across various legal frameworks found in the UAE and identifies the differences between them. This paper also includes a classification of TSOs based on their operational roles and a description of their geographical distribution across the UAE.
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