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Early voting at the Dubai World Trade Centre polling station on Tuesday. Officials said healthy participation in early voting, which ended on Thursday, signals greater political awareness. Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Emiratis will cast their ballots on Saturday to elect 20 members of the Federal National Council (FNC). The remaining 20 members will be appointed by Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates. A total of 479 candidates are in the fray for the 20 seats to which voting is being held.

A total of 39 polling stations across the country will be open from 8am to 8pm to allow eligible voters to exercise their franchise.

The preliminary results will be announced immediately after the booths close. Appeals against results will be allowed for two days from October 6 and the National Election Committee (NEC) will respond to the appeals over two days on October 9 and 10.

The NEC will approve the final list of winners on October 13, if no election run-offs are required.

With early voting ending on Thursday, NEC officials said they were confident of a massive voter turnout on election day.

Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, Minister of State for FNC Affairs, and Chairman of the NEC, said the early voting was a success and witnessed a significant voter turnout.

“The high participation in early voting is a testament to the keen interest of the members of the electoral college in contributing to the political development of the UAE.”

Noura Bint Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Member of the National Election Committee (NEC), and Head of the NEC Media Committee, said the active participation of our citizens in the 2019 elections is the main pillar of successful parliamentary work, because it ensures the selection of the fittest representatives for the Council. The strong turnout is a testament to the high political awareness of our people and their confidence in the role of FNC in addressing issues facing Emiratis.”

She added: “The decree by the UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan that grants women 50 per cent representation in FNC is a historic milestone in the process of empowering Emirati women.”

Al Kaabi said the fourth cycle of the elections will contribute to maturing the political landscape of the UAE.

The NEC noted that members of the electoral college can vote at any of the polling stations, even if they reside in other emirates. This rule seeks to ensure seamless voting and enable more citizens to participate in the elections.

The NEC also reminded voters to carry their Emirates ID as the only identification document approved by the Committee.

Pool of voters

The majority of the pool of voters for the FNC elections are below the age of 40, representing 61.32 per cent of the electoral rolls.

The electoral rolls include 337,738 Emiratis eligible to vote in and run for the House elections, marking a 50.58 per cent increase over the 2015 list that included 224,281 Emirati electors.

The representation of Emirati women in the electoral college for 2019 increased to 50.62 per cent, compared to 49.38 per cent for men.

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Emiratis arrive to cast their vote for Federal National Council elections at Sharjah Cultural & Chess club on Tuesday 01 October 2019. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The voter pool features a significant representation of electors in the 21-40 age category, reflecting the crucial role of youth in the UAE’s progress.

The pool of voters includes 101,549 members from Abu Dhabi, 60,772 from Dubai, 64,293 from Sharjah, 10,165 from Ajman, 6,653 from Umm Al Quwain, 55,289 from Ras Al Khaimah and 39,017 members from Fujairah.

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Emaratis cast their votes for early Federal National Council(FNC) elections at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday, 1st October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

The number of eligible voters, at 337,738, marks a 50 per cent increase over the previous elections in 2015 and signifies a big leap towards greater political participation in the UAE, said Tareq Lootah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of State for FNC Affairs and Chairman of the Election Management Committee. Lootah added that the move to widen the voter pool confirms the determination of the UAE to further promote political participation in the country by adopting a gradual political approach to develop a parliamentary experience that is consistent with the unique cultural traditions of the UAE.

The FNC is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities as established by the constitution. The FNC held its first session 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.

The parliamentary process in the UAE started as early as 2006, when the first electoral pool of 6,689 Emiratis was selected to vote. The number was small compared to the Emirati population, which amounts to more than a million. But, in 2011, the second round of FNC elections saw 135,308 Emiratis granted voting rights, a 20-fold increase on the previous vote. This year’s elections saw a concerted awareness campaign to educate the people about the vital role of the FNC and to instill in them a democratic spirit.

39 voting centres on election day (8am to 8pm)

  • Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre’s Al Wathba Council, Mubarak Bin Mohammed School, Yas Mall and Zayed University in Shakhbout City
  • Al Dhafra: Madinat Zayed wedding halls, Ghayathi, Al Silaa and Dalma Island Council
  • Al Ain: Al Ain Convention Centre/Al Khabaisi, Al Wagan Wedding Venues, Al Dhaher, Al Hayer and Shaikha Bint Sorour School in Al Yahar
  • Dubai: Dubai World Trade Centre, Culture and Science Symposium in Al Mamzar, Sports Hall at the UAE Football Federation in Dubai, Sunset Mall, Emirates Identity Building in Al Barsha and Hatta Wedding Hall
  • Sharjah: Sharjah Chess Club on Al Dhaid Road, near the American University; two councils of Mughaidir suburb, Khalidiya suburb, Maliha Cultural Club, Expo Centre in Khorfakkan and Sharjah University campuses in Kalba and Al Dhaid
  • Ajman: Ajman University Building and Sanad Centre in Masfoot
  • Umm Al Quwain: Al Ittihad Hall and Technical Secondary School in Falaj Al Mualla.
  • Ras Al Khaimah: Expo Centre, Federal Identity and Citizenship Centre behind RAK Police Department, Federal Centre for Identity and Citizenship in Al Rams, Technical Colleges (Women) and Al Ghail Youth Centre
  • Fujairah: Fairground, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development Centre in Masafi and Dibba Exhibition Centre in Dibba