x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Emiratis call for action against unjust EU criticism

Emiratis want the FNC to act swiftly in refuting 'biased and prejudiced' accusations from the European Parliament.

FNC members (left to right) Marwan Bin Ghalita, Rashad Bukhash, Ahmad Abdul Malik Ahli, Mona J Al Bahar and Hamad Al Rahoomi during a meeting at the Cultural and Scientific Association.
FNC members (left to right) Marwan Bin Ghalita, Rashad Bukhash, Ahmad Abdul Malik Ahli, Mona J Al Bahar and Hamad Al Rahoomi during a meeting at the Cultural and Scientific Association.

DUBAI // Emiratis have called for more concerted action to provide rapid rebuttal when the UAE is a victim of unjust and inaccurate criticism from abroad.

They suggest a more active role for UAE embassies overseas, for the media and for the National Bureau of Statistics.

The proposals came at a public majlis in Dubai held by six Federal National Council members, and follow a controversial resolution by the European Parliament in October that criticised the UAE’s human-rights record.

At the time, Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, described the resolution as “biased and prejudiced”, and accused the European MPs of making “unsubstantiated accusations without examining the facts”.

Ali Al Haddad, a lawyer, told the FNC members at Sunday evening’s majlis that people were working to ruin the UAE’s image.

“You, as members of the FNC, when you discussed the resolution with Dr Gargash, did you know by March another report for another resolution will be out? What is the foreign ministry’s plan for this?” he said.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, an FNC member for Dubai, assured Mr Al Haddad that the council had spoken on the topic and questioned Dr Gargash about it.

“The country was not done justice on this,” he said. The European Parliament “have their own opinion. If they were looking for the truth they would have found it. If they don’t want it, that is up to them.”

Dr Mona Al Bahar, who also represents Dubai on the FNC, said there was no such thing as a flawless country.

“We know the problems, we live with them,” she said. “We must change our attitude – work with the same aggression. It’s like a game, we need to know how to play.”

Dr Hessa Lootah, an associate professor at UAE University who was in the audience, said UAE embassies abroad needed to play a more active role, and the media were also vital to correct inaccurate representations of the UAE.

“For many years, embassies have not had real jobs in the cities they are in,” she said. “Embassies even in Arabic countries do not hold strong relationships there.”

Dr Lootah rejected the validity of criticism from the West. “Today they are talking to us about human rights? What did they do in Iraq? And what are they not doing in Syria now?” she said.

Millions were living in poverty in the United States, forced to look for food in rubbish bins, Dr Lootah said.

Others in the audience said the need to refute inaccurate allegations with accurate figures added new urgency to today’s session of the FNC, when Mr Al Rahoomi will ask about the performance of the National Bureau of Statistics.

“When they [the UAE’s critics] come out with statistics, we cannot face them with the real statistics, so the statistics centre is very important,” an Emirati women in the audience said.

During the three-hour majlis session, FNC members also discussed Emiratisation, events at the last FNC meeting and subjects that will be aired today in the council.
The next majlis meeting will be held in two weeks.

“We don’t want anyone to say they cannot reach a member of the FNC,” Mr Al Rahoomi said.

osalem@thenational.ae