x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

RAK discusses 20-year plan to upgrade south region

An assessment next month will evaluate transportation, infrastructure, economic and social needs and a master plan will be designed accordingly.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Community leaders, residents and government officials will meet next month to discuss the proposal for a 20-year development plan for the southern region of Ras al Khaimah.

The assessment will evaluate transportation, infrastructure, economic and social needs. After the discussion, a master plan will be designed over two or three months.

"They have done two thirds of the work," said Azza al Ahmed, a planning engineer for the RAK Municipality. "Right now we are finalising the proposal and making sure each point is justified."

An estimated 105,000 people live in rural RAK, many in its three less developed southern districts.

Upgrades include 100 kilometres of new rural roads that are planned to be completed by the end of 2011, the department of Public Works announced.

"It's not like the southern areas have been neglected but you know [because of] the topography, the north was always more developed," said Engineer al Ahmed. "Now it's time for the south."

The proposal follows months of talks with southern residents by Atkins, the UK's largest engineering and design consultancy company.

“The thing they were surprised with is they welcomed the change,” said Mr al Ahmed. “They have taken the social aspect very well. It’s the most important part because ... unless you keep people involved you cannot get their approval.”

Police, immigration, the economic department and health centres have opened and expanded.

Dr Hassan al Alkim, the general director of the RAK Department of Economic Development and a political science professor at UAE University, said the initiative was spurred by the desire to ensure that everyone’s needs were addressed.

“In terms of population, you have a very small population. You should increase your population or at least protect it,” said Dr al Alkim.

Growth has been comparatively stable in the south, said Youssef al Ashkar, the director of town planning and survey administration. “The expansion [in the south] is not the same as in the city,” said Mr al Ashkar. “Now that the government want to develop this area with a master plan a big change will come.”

azacharias@thenational.ae