From Single- to Multi-Family Public Housing: Analyzing Social Sustainability Aspects of Recent Designs in the UAE

Omar Sherzad Omar, Khaled Galal Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The UAE’s federal and local governments initiated their public housing programs for Emirati citizens on low incomes to provide them with adequate basic services and to improve their living conditions. Until 2005, most of the public housing units were developed as single-family dwellings on ample plots, but, afterwards, the areas of the housing plots significantly decreased due to the growing demand for public housing associated with the increasing population and limited land availability. Recently, it has become increasingly difficult to provide single-family housing for all Emirati citizens who need public dwellings. To address this problem, the UAE has shifted towards the provision of multi-family housing. To this end, two pioneering vertical public housing projects have been developed: Diba Al Hosn in Sharjah and Al Ghurfa in Al Fujairah. While the designs of the two projects attempted to consider the requirements of the lifestyle of Emirati families, the degree of attaining the wider social sustainability considerations in the design of these projects has not been explored yet. To bridge this gap, this research first examined the essential social sustainability aspects that should be taken into consideration when designing multi-family housing in general. Then, the research compared the two multi-family local designs with some global case studies regarding the degree of achieving social sustainability aspects. The research ended with revealing the social sustainability-related shortcomings of the designs of recent multi-family public housing in the UAE and, hence, suggested an integrated set of social sustainability principles and indicators that, if appropriately applied, could help appropriately attain social sustainability aspects for Emirati’s vertical public housing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number513
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Emirati citizens
  • UAE
  • multi-family housing
  • public housing
  • social sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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