United Arab Emirates doubles support for low-income Emirati families


An Emirati family watches the fireworks display at the Global Village in Dubai February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is doubling the financial support it provides for low-income Emirati families to 28 billion dirhams ($7.6 billion) to help them with soaring living costs in the Gulf state.

The expanded budget allocation, reported by state news agency WAM on Monday, includes increasing existing benefits and establishing new ones targeted at mitigating the impact of inflation on food prices, and rising fuel and household energy costs.

It was not immediately clear how the expansion of financial support would be funded. UAE is a major oil-producing nation.

Some of the new benefits include financial support for university students and the unemployed who are over 45 years old.

Emiratis account for about 10% of the UAE's population of roughly 10 million people, who are mostly foreign workers and dependents.

A large number of those are low-paid blue collar workers who are practically all foreigners, meaning that they will not directly benefit from the expansion of benefits.

Those living in the UAE, including citizens and foreigners, have in recent months voiced concerns over rising living costs, with retail fuel prices alone up around 80% so far this year.

Earlier this year, low-paid foreign delivery drivers launched rare strike action over pay conditions, citing higher fuel prices.

($1 = 3.6727 UAE dirham)

(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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