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Emirati problems: Debt, housing loans and unemployment

Emirati problems: Debt, housing loans and unemployment

Between asking for increased housing loans and forcing banks to reduce their personal debt, the financial future of most UAE nationals remains dangerously dependent on what the government deems appropriate.

March 18, 2012 3:52 by

Last week FNC representative Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi pushed for an increase in housing loans and grants available to Emiratis. Currently Emiratis receive Dh500,000 as per the Zayed Housing Program and up to a 45 percent discount on the prices of building materials. Al Nuaimi urged to increase the limit to Dh850,000 so that Emiratis are not “forced to borrow from banks at high interest rates.”

As of now there has yet been a substantial reaction from the government, but Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Public Works has released a letter in which he claimed: “the ceiling of loans is constantly reviewed to meet the needs of citizens.”

Indeed, this housing loan hike request is a stark contrast to the realities of personal debt that some UAE nationals are currently facing.

Earlier this year the UAE government said it would settle over Dh2 billion of debt owed by Emiratis. Since then, Reuters has reported that the UAE central bank has instructed banks to write off certain personal loans to help ‘reduce the debt burden of UAE nationals.’ The central bank released a statement saying they have found Emirates have been paying high repayment installments and so: “To alleviate the financial burden on UAE nationals, the board instructed further study and more cooperation and coordination from concerned agencies in order to find solutions.”

The UAE government’s continuous support for its citizens is admirable. Likewise, there have been changes in the mindset of Emiratis who are working hard to change their lifestyle and more importantly, to work towards giving back to the community. However, there is still largely dependent bracket of nationals who would most likely benefit from a change in mindset towards financial stability. Perhaps aside from raising the debt ceiling and forcing banks to clear loans, the UAE could also develop a strong campaign for financial accountability among its citizens and residents.

This, of course, has to coincide with job creation, as unemployment continues to plague the UAE’s own citizens.

Unemployment is another major issue that’s been highlighted by Ras Al Khaimah representative Saeed Nasser Al Khatheri, who asked “how a country like the UAE with an economy creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and citizens accounting only for less than 15 per cent of the population, has an unemployment problem.: “Employment is a national responsibility to achieve the aspirations of the people of the UAE and ensuring their welfare and decent living.”

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