ABU DHABI // The 20 new appointed members of the FNC have been named, and will meet the 20 elected members today to prepare for the council's first session tomorrow.
The appointed members were told of their new responsibilities in unexpected phone calls from the rulers' courts.
They include Dr Amal Al Qubaisi from Abu Dhabi and Dr Abdul-Rahim Al Shaheen - who were previously elected to the FNC in 2006 - Rashed Mohammed Al Shariqi from Ras Al Khaimah and Ali Al Jassem from Umm Al Qaiwain, who are also former FNC members.
This year six women were appointed, compared with eight in 2006.
In Dubai, two of the new members are colleagues, both happy that they will see a familiar face on the council. "This was unexpected," said Dr Mona Al Baher, the first Emirati social worker in the UAE and now deputy chief executive of care and rehabilitation at the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.
Her colleague and "good friend" Afra Al Basti, executive director of the DFWAC, was also appointed to the council. "I was shocked and happy that the Ruler chose me," she said. "That means I am doing a good job, otherwise they would have not recognised me."
With two of the four appointed in Dubai from the DFWC, Ms Al Basti said she would focus on the women and children's portfolio.
"The fact that Dr Al Baher and I were appointed indicates that there is a direction on behalf of the government to concentrate on women and children's issues," she said.
Ahmed Al Mansouri and Mohmed Ahmed Al Mur were also appointed in Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, alongside Dr Al Qubaisi, Noura Al Kaabi, Khalifa Al Suwaidi and Sultan Rashid Al Dhaheri were appointed.
"I am still trying to digest the news, but it is very overwhelming, and also a huge responsibility," Ms Al Kaabi said.
In Fujairah, Mohammed Saeed Al Raqbani and Aisha Mohammed Al Yammahi were appointed.
"I had a feeling, hints here and there, that this could happen," said Mrs Al Yammahi, who has been a school principal for more than 25 years at Dibba Fujairah Al Thanawiya. She is also a member of Fujairah Education Council. "But when you actually get the call, it is a great feeling and honour."
The other appointed member from Fujairah said it would be a challenge to find time in an already hectic schedule. "My time is already fully utilised, but I don't want my new position to be just a title. I want to be an active member and so will push myself to find the time somehow," said Mohammed Saeed Al Raqbani, 37, chief executive of Emaar Industries and Investments, a diversified manufacturing holding group.
Mr Al Raqbani is not new to politics, having been raised in a political family with a father who is an adviser to the Ruler of Fujairah, and a minister of agriculture and fisheries for more than 30 years.
"No reason is given when you are appointed by the Ruler of Fujairah," said Mr Al Raqbani.
"But I don't think it has anything to do with the job you are holding. It is about giving people a chance. In my case, it is maybe about giving a younger generation with a business sense a chance to have a voice at the FNC.
"It is a great honour for any Emirati citizen to get a chance at a seat in the FNC."
In Ajman, Brig Gen Ahmed Mohammed Al Shamsi, 60, now retired, and Ali Essa Al Nuaimi were appointed.
Federal education, social services and housing for Emiratis will be the retired brigadier's priorities. "I'm looking forward to promoting the role of the Federal National Council and for it to have a broader authority and mandate," he said. "We would like to work within the framework of the UAE constitution, this is simply what I'm looking for."
In Ras Al Khaimah, two of the three former members were appointed.
Rashed Mohammed Al Shariqi, 52, director general of Abu Dhabi food authority, said the focus of his second term would be education and health care so that UAE can set an example as a regional leader.
"Now 40 years have already passed for the UAE but there are very good opinions of what the UAE has done for the international community in education, health care and its use of natural resources," he said.
"We are very honoured by our leaders and very proud as citizens to look at what our government has already achieved, so we wish the FNC to contribute to the actions of the government."
Dr Abdul-Rahim Al Shaheen, 50, a political science professor, will also be serving a second term.
"I will continue what I did four years ago, to make something better for UAE people for health, and for housing, and for roads, and for education, and jobs for nationals," he said.
Abdulazziz Abdulla Al Zaabi is the third appointed member from the emirate.