ABU DHABI // Every day this week, Mirza Mohammed Ali Baig has wrapped himself in a scarf and warm jacket and braced the cold weather to queue in front of an Indian school at dawn.
He knows his four-year-old daughter will be disappointed if she cannot go to school.
"My daughter is always playing with pen and paper," said Mr Baig, before he broke down in tears. He said he fears having to keep her at home for a year.
"She has started writing and every day she tells me she wants to go to school," said the father from Hyderabad, India.
Like him, scores of parents in the capital will spend the next few months waiting anxiously to see if their children will have a place at an Indian school.
Mr Baig waited with thousands of others outside the Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS) this week.
"I came on the first two days when the registration opened but was not lucky enough to get a form," said Mr Baig.
"Today I came at 5am but there were already 145 people ahead of me."
He managed to apply for a place at the school, but the fate of his daughter - who should be going to kindergarten this year - will only be decided on Saturday in a lottery.
The school will hold a draw for the 3,000 parents who registered this week and allocate a limited number of seats at the school for the 2012-2013 academic year that begins in April.
Mr V K Mathu, the chief executive of ADIS, said: "Some seats are reserved for siblings and some seats for children of embassy officials and for my staff's children.
"The remainder will be allotted to the parents in the draw.
"We are now at saturation point at the school, so this year there was no chance of increasing the number in any class."
Mr Baig said he would not be able to face his daughter if they lost.
"She will be very disappointed. She has started writing and she should be in school."