ABU DHABI // Officials organising the coming FNC elections began their tour of the Emirates last night to explain the process to members of the electorate.
National Election Committee (NEC) officials met voters at Al Raha Theatre in Abu Dhabi to explain the rules and regulations of the elections. This year the voting pool is more than 129,000 - a 20-fold increase from the last elections in 2006.
One of the key issues was funding. There is a Dh2 million cap on campaigns for those wanting to put themselves forward as candidates.
Any member of the electorate aged 25 or older can register as a candidate for one of the 20 available seats on the 40-strong FNC.
Members of last night's audience suggested the less wealthy candidates be provided with financial assistance from wealthy nationals or local institutions.
Saeed Al Ghafli, the assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of State for FNC Affairs and a member of the NEC, said it would not be impossible, but government bodies and departments were not allowed to be involved in funding.
Abdullah Al Ketbi, 41, a voter from Sharjah who was chosen to vote in 2006 but did not, said he wanted to run this year.
Mr Al Ketbi said he would focus more on meeting potential supporters than ploughing money into a campaign.
"I will not only hold majlis for the people to come," he said. "I will also go to them and explain to them who I am, my background and what I plan to do. We have many tribes and Bedouins in Sharjah who I can reach out to."
When asked what he thought would qualify him as a member, Mr Al Ketbi said: "I work in aviation and I'm a father and in charge of a family, so I know people's everyday problems."
He works for the higher committee for seaports and airports security in Abu Dhabi, and said that he did not plan to spend more than a total of Dh50,000 on his campaign.
Many of the voters who attended wanted a better understanding of the FNC and the election process, to ensure thagt they had the best chance if they decided to stand.
Hamama Al Kubaissi, an IT expert who works for the Ministry of Finance, said it was not yet clear what she planned to do in her campaign.
"We were just told last week that we are chosen to be in the electoral college, and I came today to get a broader view of things and plan my steps wisely," Ms Al Kubaissi said.
She said she believed she could solve people's problems no matter what field they were in. She was also willing to give up her job at the ministry if she won.
"Why not?" Ms Al Kubaissi said. "I've been reading about this for a while and I would like to make a difference. It is my national duty."
Tonight's session will be at Al Ain Municipality Theatre at 7.30pm. The other sessions this week are at the Dubai World Trade Centre tomorrow and Wednesday, and Zayed Sports City Cultural Centre on Thursday. They all start at 7.30pm.
Next week they take place at: Fujairah Cultural Centre at 5pm, the only meeting not starting at 7.30pm, and Khor Fakkan Cultural Centre on Sunday; Sharjah Cultural Palace on Monday; Ras al Khaimah Cultural Centre on Tuesday; Umm al Qaiwain Cultural Centre on Wednesday; and Ajman University on Thursday.