By Samir Salama
Emiratis of all ages swarmed polling stations across the country on Saturday to elect their representatives in the Federal National Council.
More than 224,000 citizens elected 20 FNC members, while the remaining 20 members will be appointed by the Rulers of the Emirates.
A total of 36 polling stations across the country received eligible voters between 8am and 9pm. Voting across the country was slow in the morning, but as the day progressed the turnout gradually picked up, with significant participation from women throughout the day. Voting was extended for one hour due to a technical glitch that caused certain polling stations to begin later than scheduled. The preliminary results will be announced immediately once the booths are closed.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited on Saturday the polling centre for the Federal National Council (FNC) election at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Shaikh Mohammad was impressed with the election process, considering it a successful democratic experience in a state where citizens and candidates proved their integrity while fulfilling a national responsibility.
Shaikh Mohammad commended the role played by young volunteers whom he spoke to during his tour, 1,500 of whom had volunteered.
Shaikh Mohammad said: “This is how we grew up and were brought up in the councils of our fathers and forefathers, and this is how we educate our children now, so that they cling to these customs and traditions in order to become worthy successors to a wonderful past.”
Shaikh Mohammad also pointed out the importance of linking citizens to the empowerment programme launched by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the advancement of political and active participation
Shaikh Mohammad explained that this programme and the legislative election represent a key dimension complementing the development of the country.
Many citizens made it to the polling stations, but they were not allowed to exercise their franchise because their names were not on the electoral rolls.
Appeals against results can be made for three days from October 4 to 6, and the National Election Committee will respond to the appeals over two days — on October 7 and 8.
The NEC will approve the final list of winners on October 11, if no election run-offs are required.
A total of 37,663 Emiratis cast their ballot in the first early voting in the FNC election, while more than 1,300 exercised their franchise in the UAE’s missions abroad.
In Abu Dhabi, thousands of voters headed to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) to cast their ballot.
Ahmad Al Suwaidi said he didn’t pick a candidate from his own tribe, instead voting for “a candidate [he] believed can represent [him]”.
Dubai saw a healthy turnout from women voters, while many elderly Emiratis strove not to let their age prevent them from participating in the election, being accompanied to the polling stations in wheelchairs.
Voters in Sharjah and Ajman took part in election day amid a ‘festive’ mood. Voters in Masfout polling centre were greeted with flowers upon arrival. Zayed Abdullah, 70, from Fujairah said that he “wanted to be among the first people to perform their national duty”.
Many voters in Umm Al Quwain said they have placed more importance on the track record and personality of candidates, placing them over campaign promises, since “anyone can make promises”.
And in a basketball court turned voting station, Ras Al Khaimah voters cast their vote at the indoor sports hall of the Higher Colleges of Technology.
Abdul Rahman Al Shaer, director of the voting centre, said: “We’re seeing less people here than we did last week. A large number of Ras Al Khaimah citizens have already cast their vote during the early voting process.”