The UAE’s Ministry of Public Works (MOPW) is focusing on connecting fast-growing, but smaller emirates such as Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, which have lagged behind Abi Dhabi and Dubai for economic growth.

Tens of billions of dirhams are being invested in bringing the northern emirates up to speed with the already-developed urban areas.

“Often infrastructure in the UAE is competitive,” says Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi, Public Works Minister. “But there is also a need for infrastructure in growing regions, and mountainous regions, which should not be cut off from electricity, water and communications.”

Almost 70 per cent of the MOPW’s infrastructure spending is in the northern emirates, as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already reached a high level of development.

The transport strategy focuses on connecting recently developed ports such as Fujairah oil storage facilities to other transport hubs such as airports, and major urban centres by road.

Al-Nuaimi is also involved in the $6bn Etihad Rail project as chairman of the Federal Transport Authority. The first phase is due for completion. An AED700m ($190m) budget to begin the second phase has been approved. Contracts are due to be awarded soon.

“The plans are there and ready for rail,” he says. “Mass transport is the solution for the future, even if it is not in the culture. It is not so easy to just build more roads.”

As well as federal transport, the MOPW’s remit also involves carrying out health, education and security projects on behalf of other ministries. All projects look to cover future needs and are to international standards.

Between 2000 and 2014, 109 schools were built in the north and west of the UAE. They followed three or four standard models, not only to as a cheaper, faster option, but also to ensure that the same quality of infrastructure is provided across the emirates.

“Each project is developed individually; we pay attention to the surrounding environment,” says al-Nuami. “We want remote areas to resemble the centre.”

The designs are adapted to each particular site and incorporate sustainability; economic, social and environmental. The ministry aims to reduce electricity and water consumption by 30 per cent, in line with wider efforts, and bring their sustainability key performance indicators from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

For example, the AED70m Zayed Sports Complex in Fujairah will bring sporting opportunities to local residents. It will feature a stadium, a swimming pool, hostels and other facilities when it is completed in 2016.

The MOPW has hundreds of projects under way right up to the borders of the UAE, as it tries to keep up with rapid population and economic growth. As the MOPW is working on a 4.5 per cent GDP growth rate projection, the pace is not expected to slow in the next five years.

“The ministry’s strategy targets a level of infrastructure that improves standards of living and prosperity,” says a spokesperson. “But we are not looking to replicate Dubai.”

A selection of projects:


Project Al-Amal Psychiatric Hospital
Location Dubai
Cost AED600m
Contractor China State Engineering and Construction
Capacity 277 beds
Progress Completion in late 2016


Project Itihad Road/Umm al-Quwain – Falaj al-Mualla intersection
Location Umm al-Quwain
Cost AED150m
Contractor Combined Group Contracting
Stage Starting phase 2, completion in late 2016


Project Zayed Sports Complex (phase 1)
Location Fujairah
Cost AED70m
Capacity 180,000 sq m, 2,000 seat stadium
Stage Completion in early 2016
Project Dibba al-Hisn primary school
Location Sharjah (enclave)
Capacity 640 students
Stage Complete


Project Civil defence administrative building
Location Ajman
Cost AED40m
Stage Completion in late 2016
Project Central Operations Room
Location Ras al-Khaimah
Cost AED19m
Contractor Al-Holy Contracting & Construction
Stage Completion in mid-2015
Project Shaam Hospital Upgrade
Location Ras al-Khaimah
Cost AED85m
Capacity 8,000 sq m
Stage Completion in early 2016
Project Primary Health Care Centre
Location Ras al-Khaimah
Cost AED15m
Stage Completion in late 2015
Project Al-Khazan Kindergarten
Location Fujairah
Cost AED20m
Stage Completion in 2015


Project Six rest stops
Location Mohammed bin Zayed road, Mesafi Road, E11
Cost AED5m
Contractor Fala Road Contracting
Stage Civil works, completion in 2017