Special report: Lack of services holding UAQ back, residents say
With fewer than 80,000 people living in Umm Al Quwain, residents benefit from the quiet emirate’s unspoilt beaches, thriving wildlife and slower pace of life. Despite government moves to develop Umm Al Quwain into a potential tourist destination, residents say the emirate still suffers from a lack of services and facilities, ranging from petrol stations and shopping malls to healthcare centres and restaurants. In addition to boosting tourism, work has also started on the UAQ Industrial City project, which aims to encourage business development and attract investors to the emirate.
1- UAQ is beautiful but lacks services, residents say
2- Industrial City to boost business development in UAQ
Northern Emirates on the agenda: In this series
February 15: Sharjah clears road to progress
February 16: Keeping pace with change in Ajman
February 19: Residents conflicted over changes in Fujairah
UAQ is beautiful but lacks services, residents say
UMM AL QUWAIN // People living in the least populous emirate say although they enjoy its slower pace of life, they would welcome more development.
With fewer than 80,000 people who call UAQ home, residents say the emirate suffers from a lack of services and facilities, ranging from shopping malls to petrol stations and recreational areas for residents and tourists.
Yet its unspoilt beaches and the marshes teeming with birds and other wildlife mean UAQ has great potential as a tourist destination, residents say. It is also home to the ed-Dur archaeological site, which is the largest site of pre-Islamic interest on the Arabian Gulf coast.
“In my opinion and generally, UAQ is the most beautiful and calmest emirate in the whole UAE, but it has deficiencies,” said Jamel Hasan, a Syrian who works as a car showroom manager in UAQ city.
A new 1.2-kilometre walkway on the Corniche, which opened in January last year, was a big boost to the area, although it lacked facilities such as cafes, said Mr Hasan.
“I am thinking of getting a licence to open a coffee shop, or anything to attract tourists to this place instead of going to shisha cafes [in the city]. This area is beautiful but it lacks services.”
The 47-year-old, who moved from Al Ain two years ago, said although the emirate lagged behind its neighbours in terms of infrastructure, things were changing for the better – albeit at a slow pace.
“UAQ is good for psychological comfort and housing,” he said. “The emirate is beautiful and it is calm and quiet, but unfortunately it lacks many services.”
Mr Hasan said he had to travel to Dubai or Sharjah to buy household items or to spend time with his family, because of the small number of restaurants, hotels and malls close to his home.
It is not only members of the community who have asked for more facilities in the emirate. Earlier this year, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, told the Federal National Council that more sports clubs were needed in the Northern Emirates, especially for girls. UAQ has only two sports clubs for women.
Rahnas Ali, 30, who works at Dubai Municipality, said he was pleased with the way the emirate was progressing, with the opening of new roads and hospitals.
“There is development in roads, such as the new pathway, and hospitals such as Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital,” said the Indian engineer, who has lived in UAQ for 26 years. He said the peace, quiet and easy parking were big plus points of living there.
Ten years ago, he said, “I just remember that there was LuLu Hypermarket, and now there is also a Carrefour and Safeer Mall”. He said he would like to see more shopping malls, which would allow residents to do all their shopping in UAQ and not have to go to Ajman. He said he also wanted to see more parks.
For Mohammed Ansar, 28, life in UAQ is more relaxed than where he lives in Sharjah, and he visits twice a week to unwind. He said the slower pace of development was preferable to the faster way of life in Sharjah.
“The emirate is good, quiet and cheaper than Sharjah. Also, I can buy whatever I need from here, but because my work is in Sharjah I can’t move here.”
The Indian salesman said although the roads and the choice of shops were improving, there were still minor problems illustrating a need for improvements, such as being unable to pay for petrol with a credit card.
Industrial City to boost business development in UAQ
UMM AL QUWAIN // Boosting the emirate’s tourism and industrial sectors and providing more healthcare and recreational facilities for residents are the main areas of focus for development.
Work has started on UAQ Industrial City which will encourage more businesses to move to the emirate with land available for industrial and commercial zones as well as warehouses and housing for workers.
The ambitious 70 million square feet project was given the green light last year by Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’allah, the Ruler of UAQ, said Bader Eddin Sarmini, marketing manager at UAQIC.
He added that UAQIC is witnessing a high turnout by investors because of its location just off Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road and close to Emirates Road, the two main highways linking the northern emirates with the rest of the UAE, as well as near to ports and airports.
The Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital was opened in 2013 in UAQ as part of the President Sheikh Khalifa’s initiative to improve health care in the northern emirates. Construction was funded by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and the Dh750 million hospital features clinics specialising in paediatrics, gynaecology, emergency care, dialysis and dermatology.
A new pathway along the corniche completed last year has proved popular with residents and new outdoor gym will be ready to use by April. Developed by the by Al Bayt Mutawahid (ABM) society, the gym will be close to a walkway that runs along the popular beauty spot. It is hoped that it will help to boost tourism as well as improving the health of residents.
“We made this walkway last year and we heard really good things from people so we wanted to give more by making an outdoor gym,” said Hind Balfaqeh, senior analyst at the Al Bayt Mutawahid (ABM) society, which developed the gym.
Residents had complained about the lack of facilities along the beach, which is popular with families and tourists. However, a spokesman for the Public Works and Service Department said there were plans to develop the area.
“The reason behind this project is to improve the emirate and its tourist destination and to provide an entertaining place for people,” he said. “It will be developed further through opening shops, cafes and restaurants and providing a children’s play area, benches and umbrellas on the beach.”
Updated: February 16, 2015 04:00 AM