Dubai sets out Dh208bn plan to double the number of Emirati families within 10 years

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announces ambitious vision

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has set out the emirate's plans to increase housing standards, health care and quality of life for its citizens. Photo: Wam
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Thursday launched a Dh208 billion ($56.63 billion) strategy to double the number of Emirati families in the emirate within a decade.

Sheikh Mohammed set out plans to increase housing standards, health care and quality of life for citizens.

He said residential developments for Emiratis would be established to deliver “the best living conditions in the world”.

Dubai's population is more than 3.65 million, driven by the emirate's position as a leading destination for expatriates.

Sheikh Mohammed wants to increase Dubai's Emirati population as part of the Dubai Social Agenda 33.

“Today we announce the launch of Dubai Social Agenda 33. It is our plan for Dubai's community for the next 10 years, with the slogan 'Family, the Foundation of the Nation,'" Sheikh Mohammed wrote on X.

“Its budget is Dh208 billion over the next decade, aiming at the citizens of our families in Dubai – providing housing, improving living standards, identity, values, social cohesion, health care, and developing future skills in our upcoming generations.

“Our goal is to double the number of citizen families within the decade, providing them with the world's best residential areas.”

Sheikh Mohammed said his sons would guide the project.

“The social agenda has clear targets, approved programmes, allocated budgets, and will be followed by my sons Hamdan, Maktoum, Ahmed, and their siblings,” he said.

“They are the most dedicated individuals to Dubai's large family, where they were raised and cherish it with bonds of love, affection and blood.

“The nation is not just numbers and structures; it is families and individuals. My message to all officials is that our priority in the coming period is the family protection, empowerment, development, and cohesion. We pray that God guides us in serving the country and its people.”

The goals of the Dubai Social Agenda 33 plan include establishing the world's most efficient and high-quality healthcare system and developing an education sector capable of keeping pace with Dubai's future ambitions to be among the top ten cities in the world for quality education.

The initiative also calls for a proactive social care system to be cultivated, focused on the protection, care and empowerment of citizens and for the number of Emiratis working in Dubai's private sector companies to be tripled.

The welfare project aims to ensure Dubai is one of the top three cities in the world for living standards and has a life expectancy among the top ten globally.

How will funding be allocated?

The Dubai government has outlined how the Dh208 billion funding pot will be distributed over the coming years.

Spending in the healthcare sector will increase from Dh66m - from 2014 to 2023 - to Dh120m until 2033.

Authorities said Dh26 billion would be used for citizen support, with the aim of promoting family stability and well-being.

Dh21.9 billion is to be spent on supporting social institutions in an effort to bolster social cohesion, raise awareness of national identity and encourage citizens to be more involved in their communities.

Dh14.5 billion will be set aside for the development of integrated residential compounds for Emiratis, while Dh13 billion will be invested in fostering a sustainable education system that supports young talent and entrepreneurial spirit.

The arts and culture scene will receive Dh6.4 billion to benefit its work, with the sports sector to be given a Dh6.2 billion boost.

"The focus on these areas aims to turn Dubai into a cultural hub that nurtures creativity and welcomes intellectuals and artists from around the world," the Dubai Media Office said.

"It also aims to establish Dubai on the global sports scene as it is already a favourite destination for hosting sporting events and training camps."

How to grow a population

Andrew Gardner, professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Puget Sound in Washington state, said Dubai's plan to increase its Emirati population could have roots in the past.

He said that in the middle of the 20th century, the Gulf was home to large families and population growth was high.

However, as countries modernised, families tended to become smaller. He said there could now be a "desire to maintain and return to" a more traditional, family-based society.

Prof Gardner said that stimulating growth in Dubai's Emirati population could also reduce the reliance on "a temporary, transnational workforce" from other countries.

He said countries around the world faced challenges in boosting birth rates.

"Young women are finding their way to professionalise and looking beyond the domestic sector that was traditionally their purview," he said.

"As we see in other parts of the world, as young women move into the workforce and seek professional appointments, birth rates go down. These are interesting modern problems that many nations around the world face."

Updated: January 07, 2024, 5:25 AM