You can buy a lot of infrastructure for Dh16 billion, and the UAE is doing just that, in the Northern Emirates.
Infrastructure projects begin to take hold
The Northern Emirates - Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah - are often characterised as lagging behind Abu Dhabi and Dubai. However, that perception is about to be shattered, following a Dh16 billion investment in a series of key projects to help improve infrastructure in the five emirates.
As The National reports today, many of these works are nearing completion, including a clutch of major roads, hospitals, schools, labour offices, civil defence centres and more than 2,000 new homes.
In Sharjah, where traffic congestion has been a bugbear for many years, the notorious National Paints roundabout is being substantially upgraded. The project entails replacing an old bridge, widening both carriageways and installing new drainage as part of a root-and-branch redevelopment of this notorious black spot for motorists.
In Ajman, the Dh300 million Al Hamidiya intersection was completed in February. The new interchange, the biggest in the emirate, has helped get traffic moving more efficiently on Ajman's busiest roads. The new Fujairah-Dubai Sheikh Khalifa Highway, meanwhile, is reducing travel times to and from the east coast.
In Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, two major hospitals - the Dh750 million Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital in the former and Sheikh Khalifa Specialised Hospital in the latter - will soon mean residents will be able to get appropriate medical treatment in their home emirate rather than having to travel to Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
As Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, minister of public works, notes: "Each emirate has different needs but it would be fair to say that by 2021, their basic requirements will be fulfilled and their infrastructure will be advanced to the extent that we can build on it."
All of this is testament to the UAE's commitment to continuous development and to its investment in its people and the places they live.
It also underlines this nation's drive towards spreading the economic advantages brought about by its oil wealth.
Any step towards improving and standardising public facilities across the nation is a move in the right direction.