x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Northern Emirates: Development coming, residents assured

Anxieties about life in the Northern Emirates are dominating online discussion, with Sheikh Mohammed answering questions.

Anxieties about life in rural zones of the Northern Emirates dominated part of the online discussion, with Sheikh Mohammed fielding questions about the shortage of jobs and the need to improve infrastructure. On that point, the Prime Minister assured residents that the development of rural sectors was a major part of the government's plans. While some residents might feel there was a disparity between the services offered to them and others in the capital and Dubai, that should not be the case in the future.

Sheikh Mohammed said the nation aimed to develop the northern Emirates "to a level that is consistent with the advancement of the entire nation in all fields, whether in health, education, or housing". Providing basic services on a par with those found in urban sectors as well as developing human capital was part of the strategy, he said, adding that Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, had already earmarked Dh16 billion (US$4.4bn) for the necessary facilities under a "comprehensive plan".

The development plan emphasised improving living standards and boosting government services to foster the local talent pool in the Northern Emirates and ensure they became a part of the nation's economic growth. Workshops and awareness campaigns would also stress "the importance of self-development" in the region. "The government strategy focuses on providing financial support and training to manage the small and medium-size businesses in these areas," he wrote.

"The development of rural areas is considered a priority in the UAE Government strategy, in an attempt to bridge the gaps and achieve balance across the various areas of the country." Responding to concerns from a university graduate about the lack of job prospects in the north, Sheikh Mohammed promised that nobody was overlooking the region. "You need to bear in mind that Fujairah, just like all other areas of the UAE, is very dear to our hearts, and is at the centre of the attention of His Highness the President, myself, and the Ruler of Fujairah."

He attributed the situation to "the imbalance between the number of graduates and the available job openings in their areas of specialisation" as well as "the unwillingness of a major percentage of these graduates, especially females, to work in other areas remote from their residence". However, he added, "these issues are not without solutions". Sheikh Mohammed noted that the Human Resource Development and Employment Authority had several programmes designed to train graduates in new skills.

mkwong@thenational.ae