x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Progress UAE: Dh16bn Northern Emirates development on track

Progress UAE: With two major hospitals, 24 ports, three major highways and more than 2,000 home projects completed in the Northern Emirates, the UAE Government's development plan is in full swing.

The Sheikh Khalifa Highway is one of the projects that was completed after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, donated Dh16 billion to develop the Northern Emirates. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Sheikh Khalifa Highway is one of the projects that was completed after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, donated Dh16 billion to develop the Northern Emirates. Antonie Robertson / The National

With two major hospitals, 24 ports, three major highways and more than 2,000 housing projects completed in the Northern Emirates, the Government has made leaps in achieving its target of full development by 2021.

Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman have always been seen by the rest of the country as lacking in development.

In a bid to lift standards the President, Sheikh Khalifa, donated Dh16 billion in 2005 to be used for improvements in the five emirates.

The Ministry of Public Works is the executive body responsible for the developments, which are being overseen by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

“Around three years ago it was decided that it was going to be an initiative rather than a donation,” said Dr Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Minister of Public Works.

“While we used to oversee many projects in the Northern Emirates, now there is a comprehensive plan with an approved budget.”

To date, Dh7bn has been allocated for the execution of current projects.

“Today we have completed over 24 ports, a Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah, 2,000 houses in the Northern Emirates and constructed various highways, intersections and tunnels,” Dr Al Nuaimi said.

“We have linked the north with the south. We now have three highways linking RAK with Abu Dhabi. Five years ago there was only one.”

The most impressive achievement so far is the Sheikh Khalifa Highway linking Fujairah and Dubai.

“This highway is something we are very proud of,” Dr Al Nuaimi said.

“It used to take an hour and a half to travel between Fujairah and Dubai. Now because of the highway it takes only 50 minutes.”

There are another three highways planned and a Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital is due to be fully operational in October in UAQ.

“We concentrate on the people’s needs, then prioritise these needs,” Dr Al Nuaimi said.

“Currently their needs are related to housing, either on maintaining their current houses or requiring new houses to be constructed.”

Large sums were devoted to the construction and renovation of houses in the Northern Emirates.

Dr Al Nuaimi expects it will take about six years to build and renovate an estimated 10,000 houses.

“Each emirate varies and 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,” he said.

“The Northern Emirates will then have a solid infrastructure, roads, sewage treatments and health care.”

Dr Al Nuaimi does not expect an immediate reaction from residents.

“People in the UAE, according to surveys by the ministry, were found to be the happiest in the region,” he said.

“This did not happen out of nothing. The Government of the UAE and its leaders have invested a lot for this to happen.

“In the past five years there have been various initiatives and attention towards the Northern Emirates. Each year more people are satisfied.

“We are building more houses, more projects and distances have been made shorter. We are not done yet.

“The projects are ongoing and by the time they are completed we do expect them to be satisfied.”

salnuwais@thenational.ae