x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

FNC calls for fewer expatriates and more Emiratisation

FNC members deliver their response to Sheikh Khalifa's address last week.

ABU DHABI // The FNC members' official response to the President's statement inaugurating the new council last week includes calls for greater Emiratisation and reducing the number of expatriates.

"After 40 years, we must set the appropriate successful solutions for Emiratisation and provide job opportunities for nationals," the members' letter says.

"This requires firm government decisions for the short and long term … the council hails the new decision to form the Higher Committee for Population Structure."

The committee's mandate is to find ways to increase the percentage of Emiratis in the population.

Launching the committee strengthened national identity, the letter adds.

The letter also thanks the President, Sheikh Khalifa, for the recent pay increase for federal employees and mentions sustainability of government services as a key issue.

Developing a comprehensive social-support system, limiting inflation, linking retirement pensions to inflation rates, supporting infrastructure projects and providing electricity to all citizens were among the requests made in the letter.

Members yesterday debated for hours on the grammar and phrasing of their response. As they paused between each paragraph for comments and objections, ideas were introduced and discussed.

The letter also hails recent visit to Fujairah by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, where he met everyday people.

"It was like a popular wedding," said one of the members.

Marwan bin Ghalita (elected, Dubai) suggested all ministers should go out and meet the people on the street.

But Abdul Rahim Al Shaheen (appointed, Ras Al Khaimah) objected, saying decisions on what ministers should do was the Prime Minister's job and to make such a suggestion would be "trespassing on his authority".

Mohammed Al Qubaisi (elected, Abu Dhabi) objected on a different point.

"Our role as the council is to observe and monitor … so the members should be the ones going out on the streets and visiting different areas," Mr Al Qubaisi said.

Another member suggested they write a separate letter to Sheikh Mohammed, thanking him for the trip.

When the letter debate was finally over, the members moved on to debate whether the parliament committee's project report should be presented using a computerised slide show.

After several remarks were made on how the software PowerPoint was very advanced, and one member translated it literally to Arabic as the "point of power" to stress its importance, the speaker Mohammed Al Mur (appointed, Dubai) called for a vote.

PowerPoint won the vote and the presentation was on.