x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abu Dhabi housing decree: Authorities 'willing to consider hardship cases'

The Government said it would consider and assess special circumstances, but did not elaborate.

The Abu Dhabi city skyline would be a new view for thousands of people having to relocate from Dubai. Silvia Razgova / The National
The Abu Dhabi city skyline would be a new view for thousands of people having to relocate from Dubai. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Authorities have announced they are willing to consider cases of government employees who face hardships over the decree requiring them to live in the emirate as of next month.

But they said the rule was binding to all government employees.

The Government yesterday said it would consider and assess special circumstances, but did not elaborate.

“A circular was issued in September 2012 concerning the housing policy for Abu Dhabi government employees,” it said yesterday.

“The circular will be effective at the end of this coming September as the deadline was set a year ago to give employees enough time to resettle in Abu Dhabi.

“Nonetheless, special cases that require exception will be considered and assessed, and appropriate decisions will be made to each case.”

Abu Dhabi announced last September that employees of the Government, including those in state-owned companies, must live in the emirate to receive a housing allowance.

More than 10,000 government workers who have been commuting from other emirates may be affected by the change.

Officials said the measure was meant to help improve safety on the roads and boost employee productivity, insisting that it is unrelated to the economy.

Abu Dhabi has grown considerably in recent years, they say, and has developed many facilities and services previously available only in other emirates, eliminating the need to live so far away from work.

Officials emphasise they are sensitive to the special needs of some and are seeking to work with those who need help. Education and health issues may top the list.

The mass move has led to major competition for spots in Abu Dhabi schools.

“Quite a number of people have come to our school from other emirates, which makes it even more competitive to secure places,” said Peter Winder, principal of Al Diyafah High School.

Karen Collings, registrar at Abu Dhabi’s British School Al Khubairat, said demand for school places was extremely high, even without the extra applications from families relocating.

“We did have a high number of extra enquiries at the end of last term from people moving from Dubai but we were already full,” Ms Collings said.

“Inevitably we have had to disappoint a number of families seeking places for their children.”

Marc James, a British resident of Dubai, may be one of those asking for help. “I can’t see myself moving to Abu Dhabi because it’ll be detrimental to my family and my family comes first,” said Mr James.

His daughter studied at the Dubai British School in Year 11 last academic year, meaning she is halfway through an education programme.

Moving her to an Abu Dhabi school would mean she would have to resit a whole year.

“I spoke to two very good schools in Abu Dhabi and gave them the scenario,” Mr James said.

“They said I’d be mad to move my daughter because she was just developing, making work towards her course’s second year, and they could never match the options she chose in the first year with what they had.” Mr James said some colleagues who had moved were still struggling to find school places.

cmalek@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting by Reuters