Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will open the 15th chapter of the Federal National Council (FNC) as the UAE parliamentary experience enters a new phase, following the elections on September 24.
The first meeting will also be attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the UAE, Crown Princes and Deputy Rulers.
The new council carries high hopes as 20 of the 40 members have been elected by a significantly larger electoral college where the emphasis was on youth. The new members assume their duties at a time when the country's leadership is looking at ways to empower the council and to make it a more effective entity in the UAE's political system.
The 20 members of the FNC were named by the Rulers of the Emirates.
They were led by veteran member Ali Jasem, who has served six terms since 1993. The members include six women and four former parliamentarians, which makes the women's representation lower than in the previous term.
Out of the 40 members, seven are women or almost 18 per cent, compared to nine or nearly 23 per cent in the previous term.
Ahead of the elections, Shaikh Khalifa said the FNC continues to be a strong platform for political participation. It has a positive impact on decision making and hence enables it as the authority that supports and guides the country's executive authority.
"We have to walk with a clear vision to empower the Federal National Council. The upcoming elections on September 24 are the perfect opportunity to take a major step towards this goal, which will be achieved, God willing, with your virtuous efforts."
The President indicated that the FNC has worked towards fulfilling its responsibility of being the interface between the government and the people since it was established in 1972.
In his message to the nation on UAE National Day in 2005, Shaikh Khalifa had stressed the significance of empowering the council and making it a more capable and effective authority that would provide great support and guidance for the executive arm of the government. The President emphasised the interest in increasing the interaction with all the citizens of the country through ensuring a more participatory process and the entrenchment of the policy of "shura" consultation.
On election day, Shaikh Mohammad said: "The benefit of this experience [polls] is that the Emirati youth are participating in building the nation. The most important thing that we are looking for today is to expand the FNC authority." With the leadership placing a huge responsibility on the council, the members will have to live up to expectations. They will have to strive to boost the process of development — which the leadership considers as a pillar in its efforts to establish stability — through partnership and constructive interaction with the federal cabinet and providing it with authentic opinion to eventually achieve the national goals.
Jasem, who is also, director of Umm Al Quwain Radio Station, said the FNC is received more power after the election experience. "The government is increasing the political awareness among public here and that must be done step by step," he said.
"The FNC is founded for the public's needs and revelations and it is founded to raise important issues in the society," he said. He added that from his experience at the FNC that people's vision for politics has changed and they became more involved in practising their political rights.
"We are keen at the FNC to look at all fields related to public such as education, health, infrastructure, social life, environment and all other issues," he said. Humaid Mohammad Ali Bin Salem was also appointed in Umm Al Quwain.
In Dubai, Afra Al Basti, CEO of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said women could succeed in everything in life only if they are given the chance. Afra considers the new role as another chance to serve the country.
"I felt very grateful when I heard about my appointment in the FNC as it highlights my country's keenness to empower women in all fields," she said.
Her colleague, Dr Mona Al Bahar, deputy chief executive of Care and Rehabilitation at the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children was also appointed in the council. She was the director of the Social Development Programme of the Emirates Foundation.
She is the founder of the UAE Association for the Blind and a co-founder of the Environment Friends Association. Her previous experience includes heading the UAE Sociological Associations and membership in various NGOs. Ahmad Al Mansouri and Mohammad Ahmad Al Mur, were appointed from Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, the first woman to be elected for the FNC in 2006, was appointed for a second term. Noura Al Kaabi, Khalifa Al Suwaidi and Sultan Rashid Al Dhaheri were also appointed.
In Ras Al Khaimah, two of the three members return to the Council for a second term. They are Dr Abdul Rahim Al Shaheen and Rashid Mohammad Al Shuraiqi. The third member is Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Za'abi.
Said Dr Al Shaheen, "We must build up on the first experience at the FNC which will be for the benefit of democracy in the UAE." While the FNC has helped the government in developing legislations and addressing many issues, now its has expanded its role to enrich and develop the UAE parliamentary process, he said. "We are looking for more power for the FNC in order to play a greater role in the development of the country," Dr Al Shaheen said.
Al Shuraiqi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, said that education and health care are going to be his main focus at this FNC term.
Al Shuraiqi said that it is a great honour for him to be for the second time a member of the FNC.
In Fujairah, Aisha Ahmad Mohammad Al Yamahi and Mohammad Saaed Mohammad Al Raqabani, were appointed. In Sharjah, Ahmad Ali Al Za'abi, Shaikha Ali Salem and Ya'aqoub Ali Saeed Khalaf Al Naqbi were appointed. In Ajman, Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi and Ahmad Mohammad Rahma Al Amiri Al Shamsi were appointed.
Abu Dhabi: Noura Mohammad Hilal Al Kaabi; Sultan Rashid Saeed Al Daheri; Khalifa Nasser Al Suwaidi; Dr Amal Al Qubaisi.
Dubai: Afra Rashid Al Basti; Dr Mona Juma Al Bahar; Mohammad Ahmad Al Mur; Ahmad Obaid Al Mansouri.
Sharjah: Shaikha Ali Salem Al Owais; Ahmad Ali Mftah Al Za'abi; Ya'aqoub Ali Saeed Khalaf Al Naqbi.
Ras Al Khaimah: Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Za'abi; Rashid Mohammad Al Shuraiqi; Abdul Rahim Al Shaheen.
Ajman: Ahmad Mohammad Rahmeh Al Shamsi; Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi.
Fujairah: Mohammad Saeed Mohammad Al Raqabani; Aisha Ahmad Mohammad Al Yamahi.
Umm Al Quwain: Ali Jasem Ahmad; Humaid Mohammad Ali.
Abu Dhabi: Salem Mohammad Hamad Al Ameri; Mohammad Musallam Al Ameri; Mohammad Buti Al Qubaisi; Ahmad Mohammad Al Ameri.
Dubai: Hamad Ahmad Sultan Al Rahoumi; Marwan Ahmad Bin Galita; Ahmad Abdul Malek Mohammad Ahli; Rashad Mohammad Sharif Bukhash.
Sharjah: Salem Mohammad Ali Huwaiden; Ahmad Mohammad Rashid Al Jarwan; Mosabah Saeed Ali Hareb Al Kitbi.
Ras Al Khaimah: Abdullah Ali Al A'Mash; Saeed Nasser Mohammad Al Khateri; Faisal Abdullah Ahmad Tunaiji.
Ajman: Sultan Juma Ali Sultan Al Shamsi; Abdullah Hamad Rashid Al Shamsi.
Fujairah: Gareeb Ahmad Gareeb Al Suraidi; Sultan Saif Sultan Saeed Al Samahi.
Umm Al Quwain: Shaikha Eisa Ganem Al Arri; Obaid Hassan Humaid Rakkad.