As this newspaper phrased it yesterday, the largest migration of people in the UAE's history is now underway, as thousands of workers move from other emirates to Abu Dhabi. The ruling that requires those working for Abu Dhabi government and government-affiliated companies, to reside in the emirate or forfeit their housing allowance will come into force on September 1.
That date will have focused the minds of many who might have been reluctant to make the move, as the housing allowance part of their salaries will be cut from the following month. For parents too, September 1 is especially important, as it is the date when the new academic year begins in some schools.
Parents, though, have reported difficulties in finding appropriate schools for their children. At many schools in the emirate, places are at a premium, and those looking to enrol their children in Indian, British or American-curriculum schools are reportedly having a difficult time.
Some will ask why parents, who have known about this move for the best part of a year, well-ahead of the January application round for the 2013-2014 school year, have hesitated so long, knowing the effect a move would have on their children's schooling?
Some sympathy, however, can be extended to these families: the upheaval of moving a family is significant and everyone who has children will know the trauma associated with changing teachers, friends and areas.
Help is on its way. As we report today, the Abu Dhabi Education Council has announced it will create 11,000 private school places in time for the 2015-2016 school year, focusing precisely on the most demanded curricula in the private sector. That will alleviate much of the stress on the school system in the emirate.
But until then, there are ways to ensure that this necessary transition is as humane and sensible as possible. One suggestion would be for selected exemptions for some families who have been adversely affected, such as the exemptions the Executive Council is currently studying for extreme cases. That would provide some leeway for those worst affected and avoid having this change affect the youngest in the country disproportionately.