Abu Dhabi expat workers furious at new government rule

Published:  4 Oct at 6 PM
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Expats working in the Abu Dhabi public sector and commuting from Dubai are up in arms about a new government ruling which may lose them their housing allowance.

The recently-announced new regulation states that government-employed workers who live outside the emirate in neighbouring Dubai and commute to work will be stripped of their housing allowance if they do not relocate to Abu Dhabi. The policy is being put forward as a means of lowering the high number of road accidents and as a boost to employees’ performance by reducing time-consuming daily journeys to and from the office.

The total number of workers affected is expected to be around 23,000, with expat workers especially hard hit as rents in lively, cosmopolitan Dubai are cheaper than in Abu Dhabi. Expats comprise 50 per cent of the emirate’s public sector workforce, but prefer the 240km round trip from Dubai to living closer to the workplace.

Further problems for expat workers with children in schools or partners with jobs in Dubai are expected, as refusals to relocate will result in the loss of the housing allowance, worth around 50 per cent of the average expat’s salary. The Daily Telegraph’s expat page Dubai blogger Annabel Kantaria says she has a great deal of sympathy for expat workers forced to choose between pulling their children out of school and renting or selling their home or losing half their income.

A report in the Khaleej Times suggests that expats believe the new rule may be an attempt to stimulate Abu Dhabi’s property market, badly hit by the economic turndown, by forcing people to relocate to the city. However, it seems that many expat government employees are now searching for jobs in Dubai as the best way to solve their dilemma.
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