The houses are part of a comprehensive residential project being implemented under the directives of the President and the orders of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The start of 2014 has proved to be an especially happy time for 391 Emirati families who have been granted new homes in the capital’s Al Falah area.

To collect the keys and deeds to their new homes, dozens of eligible beneficiaries today (Sunday) queued up at the headquarters of the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City.

“I have been on welfare since I got divorced nearly two decades ago, and have been living with my parents and two children. Receiving a house such as this is one of the biggest gifts I can expect as an old lady, and I am immensely grateful to our leadership for this initiative,” Saadia Muharram, an Emirati homemaker in her 60s, told Gulf News.

Abdullah Al Hossani, a 50-year-old father with 21 children, said he had been living in a tiny two-bedroom house in Abu Dhabi city with his family.

“I have been applying to be granted a house for 10 years, and today is therefore a great day for us,” he said.

Other recipients appeared just as overjoyed as they waited in line to receive the necessary documents for their new homes, and wished the best of health to UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan following his recent illness.

The houses are part of a comprehensive residential project being implemented under the directives of the President and the orders of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

A representative from the Abu Dhabi Centre of Housing at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs earlier told Gulf News that beneficiaries are selected based on their level of need for new housing. Factors that are considered include family size, whether the parents are divorced, whether any parent is deceased and whether earning members have special needs.

The residential project is being built by Aldar Properties in several phases. It consists of more than 4,800 villas spread over 12.5 million square metres and five residential districts. The villas have been designed in three architectural styles and, when completed, the neighbourhoods will also include mosques, schools and other amenities.

The first set of completed houses was handed over to 1,000 recipients in August 2012, while another set of 1,000 beneficiaries received keys to their homes in October 2012. A third set of 1,326 completed villas were handed over to their new owners in August last year.

In order to facilitate efficient distribution of the deeds in this phase, 20 counters have been specifically designated at the municipality, and free parking spaces have been reserved for beneficiaries outside the building. The counters are operational from 8am to 8pm this week, and recipients said that the process of receiving the deeds and getting water and electricity connections for their new homes had taken less than half an hour.

In a statement issued last week, the municipality called on recipients to bring copies of their passports, family books and original identity cards to facilitate the process.

In addition, the municipality has also deployed mobile units that can facilitate the handing over of required documents to disabled beneficiaries at their homes.