x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

FNC elections: lawyer champions role of mothers

FNC candidate says he would raise issue of custody battles if elected.

FNC candidate Otaiba bin Khalaf Al Otaiba says his 10 years in law have given him a keen respect for mothers in the home.
FNC candidate Otaiba bin Khalaf Al Otaiba says his 10 years in law have given him a keen respect for mothers in the home.

ABU DHABI // The hardest part of Otaiba bin Khalaf Al Otaiba's 10-year career in the law, he says, has been watching mothers lose custody of their children.

It has, he says, helped him develop a keen sympathy for the role of women at home, which he would bring to his position as a member of the Federal National Council if he wins a seat on September 24.

His conclusion from those custody battles has been that children need to stay with their mothers until the age of 18, not - as the law states - only until puberty. "The mother has the power to keep the home intact," he says.

"So in family issues custody should be given longer to mothers. For children - for boys especially - to take them at the age of 11 or 13 from the mother would be to take him at a sensitive age in his life."

As one of 116 candidates in Abu Dhabi, Mr Al Otaiba hopes that being elected to the FNC would bring him one step closer to bringing about such a change.

"The most important thing is to protect the family. If you protect the family, you protect society - and if you protect society, you protect the country," he says.

As a lawyer for the past decade, he has come to believe that some laws need to be updated or changed.

A seat on the FNC, he says, would be a chance for him to help bring the law into line with the "modern day and age". "A lawyer is what? All his work is based on laws in courts. And the FNC studies new laws studied in the council."

His background, he says, would give him a unique perspective. And not just in family law. Commercial laws need updating too, he says.

"Old and new laws need to go side by side with the leaders' visions.

"Every law - criminal, commercial, civil, all of them - needs someone to make the necessary amendments. It needs a long study."

He also wants to address other pressing issues.

To reduce unemployment, he would call for job-creating projects to be set up.

To raise the performance of schools, he would try to improve the image and pay of teachers to attract more Emiratis to the profession.

And attracting top medical universities from the West along with the best doctors could lead to the UAE becoming a centre for medicine across the Arab world, he says.

"Sheikhs have paid billions and a lot more on health, but still health has not reached the level we want," he says.

"I think the solution would be to attract western medical universities to integrate into hospitals, so that when we bring a good doctor, they could not only teach theory but also the practice in the same building.

"After students finish class, they go to the hospital and follow their doctors.

"This way you will even attract people in this region to come and study here and generate more doctors."

osalem@thenational.ae