Exploring the Provision of Affordable Housing in Ras Al Khaimah
Adequate and affordable housing is a basic human need, and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), housing is treated as a right of every Emirati national. This study examines the efficacy of the two national housing programs in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah that provide subsidies for affordable homeownership—the Sheikh Zayed Housing Program (SZHP) and the President’s Initiative (PI). Beneficiaries of these two programs seem largely satisfied, but suggest improvement to the approval process, eligibility criteria, housing design and standards, and location decisions. Also, the growth spurred by the two programs, especially SZHP, has significantly shaped the current sprawling urban form of the Ras Al Khaimah municipality. The question of long-term sustainability of the two programs looms large, funded as they are entirely by the government, with little or no participation from the private or informal sector. To make housing programs financially and environmentally sustainable, every stakeholder must play a role: the federal government and the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah need to enable other sectors of the economy to participate in housing provision; the Ras Al Khaimah Municipality will have to strengthen and enforce its development standards; and, individual beneficiaries need to follow local plans, embrace sustainable practices of building and use the programs in a judicious way.