Government officials say results of increased spending can be seen across multiple sectors
More budget funding for education will lead to greater innovation, says FNC member
Allocating a lion’s share of the UAE’s federal budget to education and community development shows that the country is investing in its future, government officials said.
Federal National Council member Salem Al Shehhi, said on Monday that devoting most of the funds towards education would benefit Emiratis and allow them to excel.
“The excellence of a nation is based on the quality of education,” said Mr Al Shehhi, who represents Ras Al Khaimah in the council. “We need extra effort in that area for more innovation in the future.”
This week, the UAE Cabinet approved the largest federal budget in the country’s history, with more than half set aside for education and social development.
Of the Dh60.3 billion budget for 2019, the government will spend Dh25.5bn on social benefit programmes, Dh10.3bn towards university education programmes, and Dh9.8bn on infrastructure and economic resources.
More funds have also been allotted for housing projects for Emiratis. The changes include an increase in the cap for Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme allowances — which provides Emiratis with housing or land on which to build their homes — from Dh500,000 to Dh800,000.
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Mr Al Shehhi said the programme benefited countless citizens, which was the ultimate goal expressed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday.
“The citizen is our top priority and we allocated the bulk of the budget to ensure the citizen’s prosperity, health, education and security,” Sheikh Mohammed said, after chairing the Cabinet meeting.
Mr Al Shehhi said the budget allocations targeted key areas to improve the livelihood of Emiratis.
“Education, housing and health are all services that, when enhanced, will increase the comfort of the people, which shows that the government is carefully calculating its movements,” he said.
The improvement in some sectors as a result of increased government spending was obvious, Mr Al Shehhi said.
“There are many examples of how education has improved from increased government funding, whether it was innovative laboratory in schools or highly qualified teachers. We noticed all of this lately.”
He said many students who were awarded scholarships have benefited from increased government spending by being able to travel abroad to study.
“From China to Europe to South Korea to Japan — those are all examples of the benefits of additional government funding,” Mr Al Shehhi said.
Rabaa Amer, a 42-year-old Emirati, is one such student. The mother of four has been looking forward to doing her PhD in leadership and innovation at Plymouth in the UK since she finished her master’s degree in 2010.
“I applied for a scholarship one year ago, and just today they got back to me,” the executive director at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation said.
“Just as I was leaving work I received a call saying my scholarship had been accepted, and there will be a committee following up my studies.”
Ms Amer praised government plans to increase education funding “because as a mother of four, it is important for me that my children benefit from that, and I hope they could all get scholarships to study abroad as well”.
Hamad Al Rahoomi, an FNC member from Dubai, said increased funding for education, health and infrastructure “will reflect positively on all locals in a direct manner”.