x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

FNC candidates given campaign rules

Seminar offered for FNC hopefuls, offering dos and don'ts of campaigning.

ABU DHABI // Candidates for the FNC have been given campaign guidelines at an awareness lecture held by the National Election Committee (NEC).

The event on Monday night was the first of a four-day series of seminars in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah aimed at educating candidates about the rules of campaigning.

About 100 hopefuls attended the seminar, which highlighted the rights and duties of the candidates, and the regulations governing the elections and campaigns.

Tariq Hilal Lootah, the chairman of the election management committee, said the aim of the guidelines was to give candidates the opportunity to promote their credentials while maintaining respect for competitors and the community.

"The NEC has organised several informative seminars for different sections of society including our staff, students, armed forces personnel and police," Mr Lootah said.

"Following the announcement of the electoral colleges, we launched an educational programme targeting its members and now, after the announcement of the preliminary list of candidates, we have launched a programme targeting them, too."

Among the guidelines are a Dh2 million limit on campaign spending, including donations from citizens or local entities.

Candidates are also prohibited from using the UAE emblem or symbols in meetings, advertisements, election leaflets and all other promotional items.

Some candidates highlighted their objectives on the sidelines of the seminar. Support for working women, improved conditions at retirement homes and better recognition of the elderly topped their agendas.

Noora Al Nowais, an FNC candidate and an adviser at the Department of Economic Development, said running for office was "part of every UAE national's duty".

"Women have received a lot of support from Abu Dhabi, especially from Sheikha Fatima [the widow of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE]," Mrs Al Nowais said.

"They have given us this opportunity to take an active role in the government and this is why I want to highlight the role of women and complement the achievements of the council."

The preliminary list of candidates consists of 469 Emiratis, of which 85 are women.

That is up from 452 candidates, including 63 women, for the last election in 2006.

Male and female candidates recognised the important role women play in decision-making.

"Women are our mothers, sisters and wives," said Mansour Abdulkarim Al Faheem, an FNC candidate and a senior business development manager with Mubadala.

"That's where a child learns. His mother is his first teacher. And that is why it is important that we give them a fair chance in the workforce and give them an opportunity in every field."

Mr Al Faheem said more attention was also needed in healthcare and with the elderly.

For Saif Al Kaabi, a candidate and business owner, the reason for participating is simple.

"We spend our life [while] the country is investing in us," Mr Al Kaabi said. "It's time to pay back our country and return that investment."

The campaigning period runs between September 4 and 21, followed by the elections on September 24.

Winners are expected to be announced on September 28.

mismail@thenational.ae