About 130,000 voters of the United Arab Emirates elected Saturday half of the 40-member Federal National Council (FNC), the second such election in the Emirates’ 40-year history. Around 450 candidates, including more than 80 women, ran for the 20 seats in the FNC, which mainly acts as an advisory body. The other half will be appointed by the Federal Supreme Council, the country’s highest governing body.
One woman, Sheikha Isa Ghanem Al Ari from the Emirate of Umm Al Qaiwain, was elected to the FNC, said the state news agency WAM.
An encouraging number of voters from an electoral population of about 130,000 turned out to vote at 13 polling centers across the Emirates. The number of voters increased significantly compared with that of about 6,700 voters in 2006, when the first-ever election was held since the FNC was formed in 1972, a year after the federation’s independence.
Polling stations were open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited the polling station in Dubai in the morning.
“The benefit of this experience 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,” he told reporters.
The emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai elected four members each, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah three each, while Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain two each.
“It’s the first time in my life to vote,” said voter Naser, who finished balloting at a polling station in Dubai World Trade Center, which was full of men dressed in Emirati white gowns and women wearing black cloaks.