Umm Al Quwain public sector workers can expect their wages to soon double
Ruler increases government salaries by 100 per cent to mark Sheikh Zayed's birthday
The Ruler of the least populous emirate has doubled the salaries of government workers in a gesture to mark 100 years since Sheikh Zayed's birthday.
Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Quwain, issued the decree on Tuesday.
The move is the latest gesture by the country's leaders to mark the Year of Zayed in 2018, which would have been the Founding Father's 100th birthday.
In May, serving and retired government employees across the Emirates were handed a month's salary as a bonus in May ahead of Ramadan. A total Dh1.6 billion from the federal budget was set aside.
Umm Al Quwain has the smallest population of the seven emirates with about 70,000 residents.
Public sector workers said they were overjoyed at the news, with many saying they have not received a raise in many years.
“It was an unexpected joyful surprise that spread happiness and appreciation among all of us,” said Mahmoud Al Zahir, an Egyptian, who works in the communications office at UAQ Municipality.
“I saw the announcement on social media and couldn’t believe the percentage, I thought it might reach 25 per cent - but when I noticed that its 100 per cent my eyes went wide,” said Mr Al Zahir.
“It is a very generous gesture by our beloved Ruler, Sheikh Saud, who always cares about his people."
Mr Al Zahir said the raise came at a time when the cost of living is rising, in smaller communities as well as in the main cities.
“It will definitely encourage employees to provide their best performance and help them cover their monthly expenses,” he said.
Another public sector employee said the news was quickly circulated online between employees.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the message and I went straight away to my manager’s desk to check if it’s really true,” said Alia Al Ali, an Emirati graphic designer for the municipality.
“This is the first increase in years and we didn’t expect it to be 100 per cent - the announcement brought joy to our hearts and it shows how much our ruler thinks about us and about our happiness - we are very grateful."
Federal National Council member Khalfan Bin Youkha, who represents Umm Al Quwain, said increased salaries and spending power would boost the local economy.
"The fruits of this initiative will be shown in the coming period," he said.
"And this makes perfect sense in the Year of Zayed, as he gave his heart and money to the people."
Public sector salaries vary considerably across the emirates. UAQ Government salaries are not publicly known, but Sharjah, for example, pays Emirati recruits at least Dh17,500.
There are efforts to modernise the emirate and draw in more tourists, particularly to visit its historic buildings and abundance of land and marine wildlife.
It is home to Al Sinniyah Island, a rich marine reserve spread over 90 sq km and just off the coast and home to the world's third largest colony of cormorants, best observed in November to March.
But the economy remains rooted around fishing, which is sold domestically and also exported, and several large chicken farms.
The emirate accounts for less than 2 per cent of the national GDP.
Among the most significant developments at present is the redevelopment of Umm Al Quwain's run-down old town, which aims to provide better housing for residents but has priced some out of the area.