UMM AL QUWAIN // Work to upgrade roads, build more modern homes, as well as shops and mosques could mean the pace of life for people living in the least populous emirate might not be so laid back for much longer.
Recent improvements to streets in residential areas, a jump in the number of construction projects along with cheap rents means Umm Al Quwain is enjoying a boom.
The number of licences issued by the municipality in the first quarter of this year to build homes, shops and mosques in residential and industrial areas increased by 20 per cent compared to the same period in 2014, and is expected to rise by 40 per cent by 2020, Obaid Sultan Towarish, acting general director of UAQ Municipality, said.
“I am optimistic for the emirate because this reflects positively. The emirate is witnessing economic growth compared to previous years and it will witness more new projects,” Mr Towarish said.
Projects such as the Al Etihad roundabout that connects the Al Salama residential area with exit 93 on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road has helped boost urbanisation, as well upgrading roads in Nifa and Swaihat 2.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Mulla Street connecting with Al Etihad Road was recently completed, the director said.
“The reason for developing infrastructure such as roads is to ease traffic and residents’ movements. It is good, it will help to build and develop the emirate,” he said.
However, while residents welcome the development and the benefits it will bring, they are hopeful UAQ’s way of life will be preserved.
“The emirate is better than before, and there is an increase in number of buildings and villas inside UAQ and outside in the Al Salama area,” said Ahmad Azzam, who has lived in UAQ all his life. “This is considered as evolution of the emirate even though it won’t reach to the level of Dubai, but it is good for UAQ.”
The condition of streets and roads has much improved, said Mr Azzam, although some streets are still in need of work.
“The new streets located in Al Salama and Al Ramla are amazing, save time and take you directly into UAQ without the need to pass Al Etihad roundabout.
“But what about Al Etihad bridge? It has not been completed even though they had started it years ago,” the 26-year-old said.
UAQ has some of the lowest rents in the UAE, with a two-bed apartment costing Dh17,000 to Dh18,000 per year and a three-bed Dh27,000 or Dh28,000.
In neighbouring Ajman, a similar sized two-bed apartment costs Dh30,000 to Dh45,000, with tenants paying Dh55,000 for a three-bed. A two-bed in Dubai or Sharjah can cost Dh150,000 and Dh75,000 respectively.
As a result, the property market has seen an increase in demand from people relocating from other emirates. The number of Emirati families looking for land is also rising thanks to funds from the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme.
Farook Saeed, a Sudanese engineer who has lived in UAQ for 16 years, said the emirate has begun to compete with its neighbours but still has a way to go.
“The streets now are better because they are facilitating our movements and it’s easier to reach to places. There is also a new hotel which is under construction in UAQ Corniche, so there is growth in all fields,” the 36-year-old said.