x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Faces of the FNC: Ahmed Saeed al Dhanhani

He believes that the FNC should be more focused on conveying the people's "concerns, ambitions and hopes" in areas including employment, education and health.

Andrew Henderson / The National
Andrew Henderson / The National

Ahmed Saeed al Dhanhani, one of the two elected members of the Federal National Council from Fujairah, has yet to decide whether he will run for election again ? because, he says, he simply does not know what the council's future holds. "I am waiting to see what will happen next," he said. "I am not thinking about elections now. I'll think about it in due time." What he described as the Government's ambiguity about its plans for the council is already making him think about changing his career path. As a member of the FNC, Mr al Dhanhani is not allowed to take up a federal position. And for Mr al Dhanhani, who served for over a decade as a diplomat in the country's embassies in Beijing, Madrid and Tunis, uncertainty about the council's future means it is time to look for another job. Several members gave up positions in the federal government or teaching posts to join the council. The current council has a few career politicians. The oldest serving member was first appointed in 1993. A number of members showed no interest in serving for another term, but most of them cited its lack of parliamentary powers as their main reason. Mr al Dhanhani is one of at least a dozen of the 40 FNC members who have called on the Government's to clarify its plans for the council after its term expires next February. Being a member of the nation's assembly came as a natural growth of Mr al Dhanhani's career, he said. "It's an extension of my former experience, where I can combine both the political and social work," he said. "It was a new experience for me and I tried to stay in touch with people as much as possible." But he has sometimes found it hard to face the public while knowing that he can offer only hopes and aspirations rather than concrete action in the form of binding resolutions. "People pin a lot of hope on the council and expect much more what the council can deliver," he said. "We're not asking to make our recommendations binding," he said, suggesting that it could be given the power to draft laws. "But they should be implemented at a faster pace and closer attention should be paid to them." He remains convinced that the Government does take the FNC seriously, but believes its role should be focused on conveying the people's "concerns, ambitions and hopes" in areas including employment, education and health. Mr al Dhanhani was one of the key members of the FNC committee responsible for drafting a report on the policies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was discussed in April this year. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed made his first appearance in the chamber as Foreign Minister at that debate, asserting that Iran's seizure of three UAE islands was a "shameful occupation". "That was a great debate," said Mr al Dhanhani. "It was one of the most successful discussions because they discussed political issues that hadn't been discussed in this term in the same manner. "It was important to give the impression that the council does not only discuss local affairs, but also issues related the foreign policy of the country."