Abu Dhabi Upbeat Egyptian expatriates in the UAE Friday started casting their votes at their country's missions here and in Dubai in what is dubbed the first free and fair presidential elections in Egypt's history.
Haitham Abdul Qader, a mechanical engineer, accompanied by his wife and two children, travelled 200 km from Rowais to cast his ballot at the Egyptian embassy in Abu Dhabi.
This is the first time my wife and I vote in any elections, because we never believed our votes count. Elections in Egypt used to be rigged and the winner is known beforehand, so why bother?
"This is the first time my wife and I vote in any elections, because we never believed our votes count. Elections in Egypt used to be rigged and the winner is known beforehand, so why bother," Haithan said.
His wife, Nirmeen Abdul Fattah, said she was so happy and anxious to participate in elections that she could not sleep last night. "It is the first time Egyptians choose their president in a free election."
The voters were greeted with chocolate and lollipops for their children as they started coming to the embassy at 8am to cast their ballots, which will run until Thursday.
Around 61,000 out of more than 300,000 Egyptians living and working in the UAE are registered to cast ballots in the first free elections since Mubarak was ousted.
Wafaa Al Sayed, a psychologist, said she was optimistic about her country's future. "It is the majority which will choose the president and if we are not happy about the president's performance, we can vote in another one.
Esmail Fikry, a financial consultant and long-time resident, said he was so proud of the first televised presidential debate in the nation's history, which featured Amr Mousa, the 75-year-old former chief of the Arab League, and Abdul Moneim Abu Al Fotouh, 60, considered a moderate Islamist.
The two top-rated Egyptian presidential candidates battled on Thursday over the role of Islam and policy toward Israel in the Arab world's most populous country.
"Congratulations to every Egyptians on the first free and fair elections! After decades of autocratic rule, Egyptians will finally have a choice in the presidential election scheduled for May 23 and 24," Fikry said.
It is estimated that more than eight million Egyptians are working and living abroad, but nearly 600,000 are registered voters overseas.
Mohammad Nabawi Hassan Dosouki, mechanical engineer, said it was the first time in his life to vote. "My feelings are that everybody will contribute to development of the nation, they are upbeat and knowledgeable of their responsibilities," he said.
Al Hussain Mohammad Yousuf, echoed the same view, stressing that every vote counts and people should take part in the elections so that they will vote for a new leader.
Overseeing the voting process in person, Egypt's ambassador in the UAE, Tamer Mansour, said he also never participated in elections before the January 25 Revolution.
"I feel proud of the first free and fair elections in Egypt's history, which will put the nation on the right path to recover its regional and international leadership" he said, expressing hope that the people's expectations will be gradually achieved.
On Wednesday, an Egyptian administrative court issued an unexpected ruling to suspend the presidential elections due later this month.
Courts in the Nile Delta cities of Benha and Minufiya said the first round scheduled for May 23 and 24 should not go ahead, as the law did not give the electoral commission chief powers to call the poll.
However, a legal source told Gulf News the ruling to suspend elections would be overturned, because the power to call the polls was delegated to the commission chief by the military ruler who exercises executive authority.