Abu Dhabi's new welfare scheme to go live this Sunday

Government agencies will match candidates to jobs that match their potential and abilities

Emiratis who want to apply for support from a new welfare scheme in Abu Dhabi will be able to do so online from this Sunday.

A website for capital’s overhauled benefits system has been launched. A new grant will be targeted at low-income UAE nationals, with payments made to families rather than individuals.

The new system will have two main elements:

It will provide financial support, with family incomes to be topped up by the state if it falls below a certain level.

This will sit alongside an ‘empowerment’ element, which will see training offered to those able to work. A partnership with government agencies will see candidates matched to jobs that match their potential and abilities.

These training schemes are compulsory for those receiving support or members of their family, if they are able to work.

Elderly citizens, or those with special needs, will be able to apply for support in person at special centres if they are not comfortable using computers. The scheme is being opened for applications gradually in different areas across Abu Dhabi, ahead of the first payments arriving everywhere in April.

“This programme is part of our leadership approach to empower low-income national families, enhance their standards of living, ensure their decent living and achieve their financial independence as the Emirati family is an essential component of society," Hamad Al Zahiri, said director of Abu Dhabi Social Support Programme said.

"We aim to provide the best possible service to our citizens and facilitate their affairs while respecting the privacy of the applicants who are benefitting from the programme.”


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The new system is being administered by the Department of Community Development, which was launched last year.

The government has used expenditure surveys to calculate a minimum income. A head of a family is deemed to need at least Dh7,450. A member of the household aged 14 or over is deemed to add Dh3,725 to required overall family expenditure, with Dh2,235 extra judged appropriate for under 14s.

The head of the family is required to make the application. The department has justified the focus on the family, rather than the individual, by saying its approach “will enhance family ties among its members to help them achieve financial independence.”

Regarding the compulsory nature of training and ‘empowerment’ elements of the scheme, the website adds: “The beneficiary or any member of his / her family who are able to work shall be obliged to participate in the empowerment programmes.”

Beneficiaries must renew their application annually and tell the authorities if their circumstances change.

Applications will open from Sunday online, at www.ssa.gov.abudhabi. Centres for those who require assistance in person have been set up Dhafra, in Madinat Zayed, Ghayathi, Al Silaa, Liwa, the port, and Dalma Island from 8am to 3pm.

The scheme will then be launched in Al Ain on January 20 and then in Abu Dhabi city on February 24.

Applications will be received and reviewed until March 31. Applicants who qualify for support will then receive payments in April, backdated to January.

Emiratis will continue to benefit from other guarantees including the provision of adequate housing, free health care in the public and private sectors, food support and many other subsidised services.