x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Faces of the FNC: Abdullah Ahmed Salem al Shehi

Mr al Shehi has been particularly concerned during his term with the lack of decent roads and facilities in the Northern Emirates.

Abdullah al Shehi, from Ras al Khaimah, is one of 18 members from the Northern Emirates in the Federal National Council.
Abdullah al Shehi, from Ras al Khaimah, is one of 18 members from the Northern Emirates in the Federal National Council.

Abdullah al Shehi was one of 83 people from Ras al Khaimah who ran for the FNC's elections four years ago, but he is not counting on being chosen as a candidate again. "I don't think they'll put me on the list," he said. "I've caused them a headache, even though at the end of the day all I've been looking for is serving the nation's interest."

Mr al Shehi has been particularly concerned during his term with the lack of decent roads and facilities in the Northern Emirates. "As citizens, we're helpless in the Northern Emirates," he said. "There are no proper streets or housing. If you look at some of the remote areas, you'll be surprised to see under what conditions citizens live." He said the healthcare system was a major challenge there. The Ministry of Health, which runs most of the hospitals and health facilities, does not have enough money to provide quality healthcare facilities.

"The Health Ministry budget is spent on staff salaries," Mr al Shehi said. "Not a single hospital has been built in the Northern Emirates since 1980 by the ministry. "All of them were funded by grants from Abu Dhabi and the ministry's budget also comes from Abu Dhabi." He is keen for the Northern Emirates to start contributing to the federal coffers. FNC members have complained that Abu Dhabi provides the bulk the federal budget, with some also coming from Dubai. The other emirates contribute nothing.

Unlike many of his fellow members, Mr al Shehi sees no need to give the council more powers. "There is a structural anomaly here," he sad. "How can I give members, who might annoy me and cause me a headache, more powers while their [emirates] barely contribute anything to the state?" Eighteen of the council's 40 members come from the Northern Emirates. Although they are elected and appointed locally, they represent the entire country.

Mr al Shehi's main concern is to maintain a strong federation. To do that, he argues, not only should every emirate contribute to the federal budget, but the federal institutions should also be strengthened. In recent years, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have moved to establish local departments for health care and education. "Is our union a federation or a confederation?" he asked. "The Emirates should take a decision to abolish the local departments so we can have a complete federation, unshaken or dismantled.

The aim, he said, should be "to reach a degree of coherence in the Emirates so that the local [authorities] do not overrun the federal". mhabboush@thenational.ae

Born ? December 31, 1967 Education ? Bachelor's degree in business administration from the UAE University Family ? Six daughters and two sons, aged 1-15 Career ? 1990-1992: Deputy director of administrative affairs at the Ministry of Health ? 1997-1998: Health attache at the UAE Embassy in London ? 1999-2004: Board member of Environment and Industrial Development Authority in Ras al Khaimah ? 2007: Elected member of the FNC for Ras al Khaimah. Chairman of the health, labour and social affairs committee, member of the legislative and legal affairs, foreign affairs, planning, petroleum, mineral wealth, agriculture and fisheries committees. Temporary committees include one tasked with drafting a report on pollution and another on the labour system.