His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktroum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court, during the Cabinet meeting at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday Image Credit: X/@HHShkMohd

Abu Dhabi: Dh2 billion has been approved to address the damage caused to homes of UAE citizens after the country last week saw its heaviest-ever rains since records began 75 years ago.

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The amount was cleared by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktroum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, during his chairing of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting was focused on discussing the impacts of the unprecedented weather conditions recently experienced by the country.

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"I chaired a Cabinet meeting today at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, during which we discussed the outcomes and impact of the recent weather conditions experienced by the country. The situation was unprecedented in its severity, yet as a nation, we always strive to learn and evolve," the Vice President said in a post on his official X account.

Sheikh Mohammed further highlighted: "The central operations rooms managed to handle over 200,000 reports, engaging over 17,000 members from security, emergency, and interior agencies, alongside 15,000 personnel from local authorities. Additionally, thousands of volunteers contributed to dealing with the aftermath of the exceptional weather situation."

Sheikh Mohammed highlighted the close follow-up and support of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which played a pivotal role in restoring normalcy to life. “With the follow-up and support of my brother, the President of the UAE, life swiftly returned to normal," he said.

"His Highness the President issued directives to initiate efforts to mitigate damages, support affected families, and promptly assess infrastructure, emphasising that the safety of citizens and residents tops our priorities."

"During the Cabinet meeting, we approved Dh2 billion to address the damage caused to citizens' homes. Additionally, a ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file, assess housing damage, and disburse compensations in cooperation with federal and local authorities,” the Vice President added.

The Cabinet approved the formation of a committee to inventory the damage of floods and rains on infrastructure and propose solutions and procedures at the state level. The committee is headed by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and with the membership of the Ministries of Defence and Interior, the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and other federal entities, in addition to representatives from all local emirates.

He highlighted that the exceptional weather situation brought benefits to the country, with dams being filled, valleys flowing with abundant rains, and underground water reserves replenished. "We have learned valuable lessons from dealing with heavy rains in our developed cities, identifying areas for improvement, and enhancing our preparedness for such conditions, making us more resilient for the future," he emphasized.

Sheikh Mohammed thanked all those who have worked tirelessly for their country, including emergency and crisis centres, security and military personnel, civil authorities, federal and local governments, volunteers, and all citizens and residents who have shown unity, solidarity, and great love for the UAE.

Tourism Strategy

The Cabinet reviewed the recent progress of the UAE Tourism Strategy and highlighted key achievements within the tourism sector. In 2023, the total number of hotel guests reached 28 million, marking an 11 percent increase compared to the previous year. International tourism expenditure in the UAE totaled Dh118 billion, whereas domestic tourism expenditure amounted to Dh47 billion. The tourism sector's contribution to the UAE's GDP nearly reached Dh180 billion in 2023.

Dh366 billion export target

The Cabinet took stock of the UAE's economic strides, underscoring its prowess in international trade and partnership agreements. Over 13 comprehensive economic partnership agreements were inked, poised to bolster the country's exports by Dh366 billion annually by 2031.

The national agenda for re-export development reported impressive figures, with total service exports soaring to Dh606 billion, including Dh170 billion in digital services. Notably, the UAE's foreign trade of goods and services in 2023 surged to a record Dh4 trillion.

Highlighting the UAE's global economic footprint, Sheikh Mohammed noted its 15th position in foreign direct investment abroad in 2023, with investments exceeding Dh880 billion. Reflecting on these achievements, Sheikh Mohammed expressed confidence in the nation's continued economic growth, praying for enduring prosperity, stability, security, and safety.