ABU DHABI // The Federal National Council will resume work today after its annual parliamentary break, with members aiming to make more of a difference to the lives of Emiratis.
The first session since June will be officially opened in the capital by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister.
Members expect to play a greater role in the day-to-day lives of citizens this term by debating a wider range of subjects with ministers.
Faisal Al Teniji, from Fujairah, said more debates would lead to more recommendations passed to the Cabinet, “all directly affecting Emiratis”.
“There will be a lot more general topics discussed,” he said. “Last term, about 50 to 60 per cent of committee meetings were dedicated to studying bills, which only transfer to Emiratis in the long run.
“But now all the topics we have asked to discuss have been passed by the Cabinet, and will lead to a lot of recommendations.”
During sessions last term, 13 bills were discussed. Through members’ persistence, they were able to change an adoption bill by removing a cap on the number of children Emiratis can adopt to increase the likelihood of orphans finding a home.
After a large number of requests from the public, members were able to get the Minister of Higher Education to officially announce that Emiratis in conflict areas would be exempt from attending overseas universities.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development also supported the council in a call for a federal dress-code law.
Domestic helpers benefited from a law granting them a greater number of rights, while members have supported each other in seeking answers from the Minister of Health as to why cases of diseases such as cancer have been on the rise. The FNC made it clear it would pursue this call until a reason was found.
Hamad Al Rahoomi, a Dubai member, said council members now know each other well, so work was expected to speed up.
Last session members were more active when it came to engaging with the public, something Mr Al Rahoomi plans to continue. He said he would make himself available for two hours every week to speak to Emiratis, although a day and time had yet to be confirmed.
The council will waste no time today in getting back to the business of electing members and heads of its eight permanent committees.
Mr Al Teniji said the health, labour and social affairs committee, one of the most active in the past year, was unlikely to change because “all members were happy”.
He said others who signed up for two committees were likely to opt for just one this time “after seeing the large load of work every committee needed to do”.
The secretary general will today outline laws passed in the FNC’s absence. These include legislation passed by the Cabinet to make education compulsory until the age of 18.
The law will be passed to the education committee to be amended and later discussed in the presence of the Minister of Education.
The Cabinet has also granted committees permission to discuss general topics such as the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, policy of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, government policy in increasing the number of Emiratis, and the Emirates Authority for Standarisation and Metrology regarding health safety.
This week, the education committee began working on collecting information on university research.
The FNC meets between every two to three weeks and most sessions are open to the public.