Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid arrives at the FNC dome on November 18, 2015. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Shaikh Mohammad opens 16th council's first regular term. Follow our live coverage


Observers elected

FNC members elected two observers for the council on Wednesday. Khalifa Suhail Ali Rabee Al Mazrouei received 25 votes, while Jasim Abdullah Abdul Razzaq Al Naqbi received 37 votes.

Second Deputy Speaker elected

Abdul Aziz Abdullah Salem Al Zaabi has been elected Second Deputy Speaker of the Federal National Council on Wednesday. Al Zaabi received 21 votes, beating Hamad Abdullah Saeed Abdullah Galita Al Gafli, who received 18 votes.

Al Zaabi is a graduate of the University of California and was a member of the Civil Aviation Authority. Al Zaabi also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah. 

First Deputy Speaker of FNC elected

Marwan Ahmad Ali Khalifa Bin Galita has been elected as the First Deputy Speaker at the Federal National Council on Sunday.

Bin Galita received 21 votes, beating Jamal Mohammad Matar Musabeh Al Hai, who received 16 votes. The second Deputy Speaker will now nominate himself.

Bin Galita, an FNC member from Dubai, had nominated himself for the position, adding: "I turn 43 years-old next week, almost the same age as the Union. I have a Masters' Degree in Business Administration and this is my second term at the Council. I care about discussing the matters important to the people of the UAE. I have contributed to three main issues during my participation at the FNC namely: issuing the Shingen visa for Emiratis, [matters regarding] the children of women UAE nationals and conducting early check-ups for Emiratis as is being done by the Ministry of Health. I would like to be a participant in driving the FNC towards success."

The 39 members of the FNC submitted 37 votes as two members abstained from voting.

First female FNC speaker elected 

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was elected uncontested Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC) in the 16th legislative chapter of the house as the council convened in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Dr Al Qubaisi is serving her third term as FNC member. She was appointed the first female member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and also the new general manager of the Abu Dhabi Education Council last year. An architect by profession, she was the first woman to be elected to the House in 2006, was named the first woman deputy speaker of the House and was the first woman to chair one of its meetings in 2013. Get to know her

"I am honoured to congratulate, on behalf of my colleagues, the leaders of the UAE on the inauguration of the 16th Legislative Chapter of the FNC. Today we continue the journey of the FNC that includes some of the best individuals of the country, as elected by the people, hand in hand to accomplish a common goal," Dr Al Qubaisi said.

"I am honoured to be the first woman elected to be speaker of the FNC. This is a testament of the country's support of its people to achieve political ability. I would like to dedicate this nomination to Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and the women of the UAE," she said.

"I would like to thank everybody who has supported me and placed this valuable trust in me ever since the beginning of my political career, especially my mother for her unwavering generosity, kindness and support," Dr. Al Qubaisi added. 

"We are before major responsibility that require us to spend every moment in dedication to our country and to resolve some of the issues that we are facing... we aim to listen to represent the public and to convey in the most accurate manner their concerns....We direct a salute to our soldiers and raise our heads high in pride towards our martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for their country," she said.

UAE martyrs praised 

Speaking at the inauguration of the 16th chapter of the FNC on Wednesday, appointed member for Dubai, Majid Hamad Al Shamsi, said: "Peace be upon the souls of the martyrs who gave their lives to defend the UAE. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the beginning of the regular term of the 16th FNC legislative chapter. Today, with the grace of Allah, we begin this term with a spirit that helps us keep up with the latest developments with our age and fulfill the needs of the UAE people. The third election process has represented the awareness of the public regarding the political process." 

Shaikh Mohammad opens session

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Wednesday opened the first regular term in the FNC's 16th legislative chapter.

"My brothers and sisters members of the FNC, we now open the first regular term of the 16th legislative chapter of the FNC hoping that Allah blesses us with his blessings," Shaikh Mohammad said at the opening ceremony.

"Brothers and sisters, the legislative chapter begins today as our country is stronger and more stable. The UAE is proud of its martyrs and raises the UAE flag, the symbol of victory up high. It is now important more than ever to instil the sense of patriotism and loyalty to this country amid the ongoing situations in the world," Shaikh Mohammad said.

Twenty members were elected to the FNC on October 3, and a further 20 were appointed on Monday.

After arriving at the venue earlier on Wednesday, Shaikh Mohammad briefly sat in the majlis with rulers and crown princes from other emirates including His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Sharjah, before heading up to the podium to give a speech on behalf of UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

A white Mercedes Benz transported Shaikh Mohammad to the venue where a marching band began playing the national anthem as the UAE flag fluttered in the breeze and officers in green uniform stand proudly in a salute.

Federal decree

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued on Monday a federal decree convening the 16th legislative chapter of the Federal National Council.

The session will be chaired by the eldest member of the council until a speaker is elected. The members then take the oath and deputy speakers and observers are elected.

Nine committees and an ad-hoc committee to respond to the President’s speech will then be elected.

The House is set to review a number of laws decreed while it was not in session, including the anti-hate speech law and the federal law establishing the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority.

Eight women were among 20 members appointed to the new House.

Naema Abdullah Saeed Al Sharhan, from Ras Al Khaimah, made history as she won a seat in the FNC election 2015, one among 20 victorious candidates from across the country.

Naema became the third woman to be elected to the council with 1,004 votes.

Dr Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi became the first woman to be elected to the council in 2006, while Shaikha Eisa Al Arri from Umm Al Quwain was the second woman to win a seat in the House in 2011.

The UAE leadership has expressed keenness to empower women to become real partners in the country’s overall development, topping the ranks as the best Arab country in women’s empowerment.

A number of the 20 appointed members underwent an orientation programme on Tuesday.

The FNC members’ orientation programme aims to ensure that all new members of the House receive the administrative and procedural information they need to assume their role as parliamentarians.

The FNC is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities, as established by the Constitution. Its first session was opened on December 2, 1972. The FNC’s official mandate is to provide for public debate of legislation. The FNC discusses proposals and plans of various federal ministries, entities and public institutions.

There are 40 members of the FNC, apportioned among the UAE’s seven emirates, with eight seats each for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, six seats each for Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah and four seats each for Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.

Since 2006, one-half of FNC members have been elected to serve four-year terms. The other half of the body comprises officials who have been appointed by the Ruler’s Court of the UAE’s seven emirates.

Appointed FNC members

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was the first deputy speaker at the Federal National Council, and is currently the director-general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec). She was also the first woman to be elected to the Federal National Council in 20016.

Born on October 18, 1969, Dr. Amal holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from UAE University (UAEU) as well as a master’s degree and a PhD from the University of Sheffield in 1995. She also worked as an assistant professor of Architecture at the UAEU and was president of the cultural heritage unit of Al Ain’s Tourism and Economic Development Authority. 

Noora Al Kaabi

Noura Al Kaabi is the Chief Executive Officer of the Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi (MZA) and twofour54, a free zone that provides world-class production facilities, training and business support services to Abu Dhabi’s growing media industry. Noura is also a committee member of the UAE’s Federal National Council and the Economic Development Committee.

Through her role as a CEO and a board member of numerous organisations, Noura works to enable a new generation of creative leaders and ensure a sustainable media industry that contributes economically and culturally to the region. Noura is currently chairwoman of the Emirates Media Measurement Company (EMMC) board and is board member of the UAE’s National Media Council, Abu Dhabi Media, Image Nation, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the United Arab Emirates University.

Noura is the first UAE National to be ranked on Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers List’. In 2014, she was named as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Most Influential Women in Government; and was awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year’ at the Gulf Business Industry Awards.  Her Excellency received the “Young Achiever Award” at the AmCham Abu Dhabi’s Excellence Awards in 2014 and was granted the Certificate of National Achievements Record in the category of Creativity and Excellence by The Emirates National Records initiative in recognition of her efforts in serving society and the State.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdullah Bin Sultan Al Nuaimi

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdullah Bin Sultan Al Nuaimi was born in Ajman in 1965. He completed his high school education at Al Rashidiya Private School in Ajman and completed his undergraduate studies at UAE University (UAE), where he received his bachelor’s degree in law in 1986. He also completed his master’s degree in law at the University of Ajman in 2015 and graduated with honours.

He is currently a member of the Executive Council in Ajman, a member at the Federal Customs Authority, and the chairman of Ajman Cooperative Society. 

Faisal Hareb Eisa Al Thabahi

Faisal Hareb Eisa Al Thabahi worked as a UAE Deputy Ambassador to the Embassy of Uzbekistan, director of the Office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Fujairah, UAE Deputy Ambassador to the Republic of Serbia. Al Thabahi is from Fujairah.

Alia Sulaiman Mousa Al Reyaysa

Alia Sulaiman Mousa Al Reyaysa has been instrumental in the development of the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority since 2002.

Alia completed her university degree at the Higher Colleges of Technology and received her bachelor’s degree in information management.

Aisha Rashid Sultan Al Ali

Aisha worked for the Dubai Police’s administrative affairs department for five years. She also established a number of private institutions in 2006 pertaining to the field of education. In addition, she served as a member of Emirates Business Women’s Council in Sharjah.

Aisha was nominated as a member of Umm Al Quwain Chamber’s board of directors in 2013. 

Mohammad Al Kamali

Mohammad Al Kamali is a lawyer and a legal arbitrator, who graduated from the Dubai Police Academy. He pursued his master’s in commercial law from the University of Bristol, England.

Al Kamali worked as the secretary-general of the UAE National Olympic Committee and served as the vice-president of the Emirates Equestrian Federation, among others. 

Dr Saeed Abdullah Al Mutawa

Dr Saeed Abdullah Al Mutawa has 25 years of experience in an array of administrative departments such as business development and operations management.

He served as a board member at the Emirates Development Bank, the director-general of His Highness the Crown Prince of Sharjah’s Office, and the secretary-general of the Executive Council of Sharjah. 

Afra Al Basti

Afra Al Basti was reappointed as a member of the Federal National Council for the second time in a row. She currently works as the director-general of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC).

Afra holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Biology and Biochemistry from UAE University (UAEU). She also participated in several events, including a panel discussion, which was held in collaboration with the Human Rights Council at the United Nations to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women’s education in the Arab world. 

Aisha Salem Ahmad Bin Samnuh

Aisha holds a bachelor’s degree in education from UAE University and a diploma in educational consultancy. She is also a certified teacher in the field of strategic planning as well as areas related to family well-being.

Aisha received the Emirates Award for Educational Excellence Supervisor in 2015 as well as the Sharjah Award for educational excellence.

Aisha has worked for over 30 years in the field of education. 

Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Meherzi

Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Meherzi was born in 1957 in Ras Al Khaimah. He graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the American University in Washington.

He also completed his master’s in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Westminster in London in 1997.

He received his doctorate in government administration in 2014 from the University of Canberra in Australia. 

Abdul Aziz Abdullah Salem Al Zaabi

Abdul Aziz Al Zaabi, born in 1962, pursued his bachelor’s degree in foreign trade at the University of California in the US in 1987.

Al Zaabi served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, among others. 

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman graduated from UAE University’s engineering college.

She currently works as the director of housing in the Ministry of Public.Works. 

Dr Nedal Mohammad Al Tunaiji

Dr Nedal Mohammad Al Tunaiji pursued his bachelor’s degree in computer programming at UAE University in 1998. She also received her doctorate in educational leadership and development from the University of Colorado from the US.

Dr Nedal worked as a professor at the college of education in UAEU to teach computer-related studies. She also previously worked as a researcher at the educational technology’s laboratory at the University of Colorado.


With inputs from Samir Salama, Associate Editor, and Maisoon Moubarak, Staff Reporter