Workers’ city sets new UAE standards

The real estate company behind the first residential city for workers in Abu Dhabi has revealed exclusively to Arabian Business how the project will translate into tangible benefits for the UAE’s community of blue-collar workers.

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By  Alicia Buller Published  April 30, 2006

The real estate company behind the first residential city for workers in Abu Dhabi has revealed exclusively to Arabian Business how the project will translate into tangible benefits for the UAE’s community of blue-collar workers. Al Eskaan Al Jamae - the firm contracted into a partnership with the Abu Dhabi-based Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (Zones Corp) governmental organisation for the next 30 years - said that, for the first time, blue-collar workers will have access to a full range of amenities allowing for a greatly improved standard of living. “They will have access to a full range of on-site services - everything from medical clinics, to restaurants, maintenance services and landscaped open areas,” said Aly Mohammed Badr, project manager of the Workers’ Residential City in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD) complex. “We will not allow more than eight persons to a room, all of which will be at least 50 metre squared,” he added, confirming that all of the apartments would be fully air-conditioned. Phase one of the development is now completed, at a cost of US$95 million to date. 5000 workers are now settled in the city, confirmed Badr. Phase 2 of the project involves a further US$218 million investment, and will eventually provide accommodation for another 20,000 workers. Badr would not comment on precise completion dates, but insisted that the phase would be complete within “the next two years.” A further phase of building is also in the offing, as a further 80,000 workers could be housed within the ICAD workers’ residence in the future. However, the investment outlay for phase 3 has yet to be announced. Once the city is completed in its entirety, it is expected to house an equal split of senior staff and blue-collar expatriate workers. Badr added that the workers’ companies currently lease all of the apartments out on a yearly basis. “There is no direct dealings with the workers,” he said, “we only deal with their employers. They pay AED 19,200 (US$5227) per worker per year, and this allows workers access to the amenities and a good life. I am very pleased about this move to better working conditions for blue-collar workers. I think everyone is.” Badr said that costs are minimalised both through the use of on-site factories that manufacture pre-cut units, and a strong partnership with Jurong, its facilities management partner. His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Planning and Economy in Abu Dhabi, and of Zones Corp, recently expressed his vision for the ICAD workers’ city. “The launch of this first dedicated city for worker’s residence is a demonstration of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to meet the infrastructure demands of the UAE’s unprecedented growth,” he told Arabian Business. “Through such initiatives the government’s message is very simple: Abu Dhabi is open for business.” H.H. Sheikh Hamed also claimed that the UAE was entering a new era of co-operation between government, the private sector and foreign partners. “The Abu Dhabi government is committed to developing labour resources in the UAE and to improving laws and regulations to facilitate business and investment, to further strengthen the foundations of the country’s upsurge,” he said. During the launch ceremony for the worker’s city, held earlier this month, H.H. Sheikh Hamed and the Minister of Labour, Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi, made a further commitment to the rights of workers in Abu Dhabi by signing a new Federal Labour Agreement. The move is designed to ensure professional standards in the ICAD residences − including regular inspections of living quarters and the monitoring of wages paid to workers. Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in terms of population and economy, accounts for more than half of the UAE’s GDP, and is the UAE’s main industrial base. With oil and gas production and reserves driving the economy, the ICAD city represents another government commitment to the development of non-oil related industries, through the participation and investment of the private sector.

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