The large population centres of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been at the heart of the UAE's phenomenal economic growth since federation. However, the success of the two biggest emirates over the past four decades has presented a challenge: to ensure that the rest of the nation keeps pace.
The latest in a series of initiatives aimed at the Northern Emirates came this week, with a report in The National yesterday that the President, Sheikh Khalifa, has approved grants totalling Dh243 million for projects in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, focusing on the essential areas of education, housing and employment.
The funding will be directed towards curriculum improvements at government schools, scholarships for gifted students, vocational-training programmes for the unemployed, road-building projects, and the construction of villas for Emiratis working with the Armed Forces.
These initiatives build on other projects, including plans announced last week to improve medical services in the Northern Emirates.
Additionally, the Federal Electricity and Water Authority has spent Dh3.4 billion on upgrading the power generation and distribution system - with the welcome expectation that power cuts in the Northern Emirates will be a thing of the past by the end of this year - and a further Dh200 million has been spent on a desalination plant in Ajman.
Earlier this month, the Minister for Water and the Environment, Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, announced that new systems for the disposal and recycling of waste woud be implemented in the north soon.
There are, of course, logistical difficulties associated with providing infrastructure and services across the nation, and it is more expensive to do so in the smaller population centres. And, as is the case worldwide, the range and quality of services and facilities will always be better where the most people live.
However, as The National noted last week in relation to medical services, there is an understandable expectation that the provision of essential services will improve across the UAE.
The UAE is the only federation in the Arab world to have stood the test of time and the challenges of nation-building. That is in part due to wealthier emirates supporting less well-off ones. But the dividends for everyone are clear to see all around us.