x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Q&A on Abu Dhabi's residency decree

It has been a year since the Abu Dhabi Government issued a decree that all federal employees must move to the capital. What will this mean?

Q: When do the rules come into effect?

A: All employees are expected to live in the emirate from September 1 and housing allowances for those who do not will be lost from the October salary onwards.

Q: What businesses are affected by the announcement?

A: Almost all Abu Dhabi government employees are affected, including those who work for businesses with ties to the government, such as twofour54, Etihad and Adnoc.

Q: How many people will be affected?

A: It is estimated that 20,000 people commute to Abu Dhabi daily, though not all of them are working for government entities. However, if entire families make the move to the capital, the number affected may be as high as 50,000.

Q: Is anyone exempt from the rules?

A: Some exceptional cases are still being studied by the Executive Council, and anyone whose work requires them to be present in another emirate is likely to be exempt.

Q: What will happen if employees refuse to move?

A: They will lose the portion of their salary set aside for housing. Housing allowances are not allocated according to any set formula but the figure is usually in the thousands.

Q: Can you share an apartment with someone else?

A: No. Human resources departments are expected to obtain a utility bill from each employee as proof of residence. Visa renewal now also requires an attested tenancy contract and utility bill.

Q: What are the cheapest areas to rent in Abu Dhabi and how much will it cost?

A: The cheapest areas include Khalifa City A and B and Mussaffah, where studio apartments are available for as little as Dh40,000 a year.

Q: Can you simply rent something cheap and continue to live elsewhere?

A: Technically, yes - there is no law against doing so. But the cost of renting a second home on top of the cost of commuting would be formidible.

* Kyle Sinclair