The UAE, watching as Arab unrest spreads to nearby Gulf countries, will invest $1.6 billion to improve infrastructure in less developed regions of the country, state media said.
The decision to expand water and electricity networks at a cost of Dh5.7 billion came after President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan last month ordered a tour to the less prosperous areas of the world’s third largest oil exporter to assess their living conditions.
“Electricity supply is to be provided to buildings and shops belonging to citizens in the northern emirates, the president ordered,” the state news agency Wam said.
Revolts against oppressive leaders and economic hardships have been sweeping through the Arab world over the past two months, ousting the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia. They now challenge regimes in Libya as well as nearby Bahrain and Oman.
The UAE, the second largest Arab economy, has escaped the unrest so far. Its relatively small local population enjoys one of the world’s highest economic outputs per capita, at over $47,000.
“There is unrest in so many Arab countries. The issue is causing discomfort and has been addressed in the UAE 25-30 years ago,” said Khaled Abdulla Al Qubaisi, a senior adviser at the Abu Dhabi government investment fund Mubadala.
“Basic necessities are provided for jobs, health, good quality of life in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. We don’t see that as an issue,” he said on the sidelines of an event in Abu Dhabi.