My colleagues have been telling me for several weeks how boring and complicated the Federal National Council, a government advisory body, can often get.
Their complaints were about the number of hours FNC members spend debating about inconsequential things: titles of laws, going back and forth with the same topic and how they are late for lunch. The National's FNC reporter, Ola Salem, couldn't attend sessions this week so Haneen Dajani, the court reporter, was appointed to cover the meetings. Haneen is a very enthusiastic and optimistic woman. She entertains me and I have rarely seen her moody. But last week, Haneen did not look very happy and when I asked her why, she said: "I am covering FNC this time!"
I was highly discouraged from attending, but that only boosted my curiosity. I got permission to team up with Haneen and set out to cover the FNC. This week's session was centred around the "Companies Law", regulations that will govern businesses in the UAE.
When we arrived at the headquarters, I was impressed by the giant hall and I was also happy to cover the session. The hall was designed in a circular form and we journalists were seated on top.
We prepared ourselves to start typing, but behold! Haneen's laptop stopped working. It seemed like the laptop caught Haneen's bad mood. She started typing the important points using my laptop, and I was trying to pay attention to the speech. I went blank for couple of minutes because I couldn't understand most of what they were saying. Also, I was frustrated by a debate over the title of the committee that lasted for three hours. It definitely could have been shorter.
The FNC members should focus more on implementing laws rather than the titles or grammatical errors in the law; it is pointless and a waste of time.
Finally, a member got up out of frustration and proclaimed: "Can we stop debating over the company name? We have more important issues to discuss."
Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of beneficial information for our story due to the long debate. We had no choice but to hunt for the minister of economy for some quotes during the break period.
We were waiting patiently for the lunch break so we could corner him. The funny part was that we were all keeping a sharp eye on the minister's movement, just like the speed cameras in Mussafah road. When he turned right, we all turned right and the cycle went on for a few minutes. Haneen couldn't bear the situation anymore. She looked at me and said: " Asmaa, be brave, go, go and get a quote from the minister". To that I responded "Errm, what do I ask him!?
Eventually, we managed to trap the minister while he was eating his lunch (above). Poor him! He was a humble man, and he answered our inquiries so we could have additional information for our article.
Overall, it was a great experience. Depending on the topic, I might even like to attend again.