x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hopes for easing of crowded RAK houses and schools

Rural villagers desperate for more housing in southern Ras Al Khaimah.

Ahmed al Dhamani with his daughter Fajer, son Magad and nephew Fahad in the family home.
Ahmed al Dhamani with his daughter Fajer, son Magad and nephew Fahad in the family home.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The doors in Munai are painted with the falcon of the UAE Armed Forces, a tribute to the men who commute to Abu Dhabi to work for the military.

When they return at the weekend to their village in the south of RAK, it becomes crowded. For some families, the southern development plan cannot come too soon.

The 25 members of the al Dhamani family share a five-bedroom house - a typical situation in rural areas.

Jumah al Dhamani, 49, lives with his two wives, two daughters, a son, their spouses, and grandchildren.

"The first thing people in the south want is a house," said Ahmed, 28, Jumah's son. "My brother-in-law, nine years he's waiting for a house."

With housing initiatives such as the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme and support from Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud, the RAK Crown Prince, the wait may soon end.

An estimated 105,000 people live in rural RAK, with about 5,000 in the wadi around Munai, the municipality says. Those figures are growing.

Ahmed's sister Meitha, 30, a kindergarten teacher, is one of the lucky women to have found a job in her home village after university.

Meitha has two young children but her friends have or want four or five. Classes have become as full as the houses. At Meitha's school there are three classes for KG1 and for KG2.

"There are more students now, not like before," she said. "We want a school for small babies. In this place, we have a need for education. Our school is too small for us."