UAE announces $5.5bn in additional development spending

The UAE’s president also decided to nearly double the funds allocated to the housing of UAE citizens

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The president of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced an extra 20 billion dirhams ($5.5bn) of spending on approved development projects and launched a new scheme to build 10,000 houses for UAE citizens, state news agency WAM said.

In a speech marking the oil producing country’s 42nd National Day, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan also said he had decided to nearly double the funds allocated to the housing of UAE citizens.

“We have decided to allocate an additional sum of 20 billion dirhams to spend on the works of the projects we have already launched to achieve the desired level of luxury for our sons and brothers,” Sheikh Khalifa said in the speech carried by WAM.

It gave no further details or figures on the amount that had been previously approved, but in September, the government of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the seven emirates in the UAE, approved $4.3bn worth of spending on infrastructure and social welfare projects.

The U.S.-allied UAE is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with per capita income of $48,200 in 2012, according to World Bank figures.

Dubai, another member of the federation and the Gulf’s trading and tourism hub, last month won the right to host the 2020 World Expo, expected to trigger billions of dollars of investments.

Sheikh Khalifa, who is also ruler of Abu Dhabi, added he had decided to build 10,000 new homes for Emiratis all over the UAE and to increase the housing funds allocated to citizens under the Sheikh Zayed program to $217,894 from $136,184 now.

Abu Dhabi is investing billions of dollars in industry, tourism and infrastructure to diversify its economy away from oil. Since the 2011 uprisings in the Arab world, it has also boosted spending on housing and social services for its citizens.

Among the latest spending allocations are $2bn to develop roads linking the city of Abu Dhabi with Saudi Arabia and Dubai. A total of $1.17bn will go towards building a hospital in the city of Al Ain.

Other allocations are to develop the emirate’s electricity grid and waste water treatment facilities, and $844m to provide housing loans to 1,554 local citizens.

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