x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

FNC members win fans on social networks

The community lauds FNC members for interacting with the public by using social media.

ABU DHABI // Emiratis say it has been easier to notice the work of FNC members, with so many of them active on social-networking sites.

More than a dozen of the 40 members have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, and many tweet live from the sessions, keeping followers abreast of discussions.

After the sessions finish, members often ask for feedback.

When a recommendation to decrease the price of petrol was debated in February, the members Hamad Al Rahoumi (Dubai) and Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai) consulted their followers, asking if they thought prices should be reduced for everyone or just for Emiratis.

"We received a lot of response on this. Everyone was talking about this issue," Mr bin Ghalita said. "What I found was that it is a very critical issue for a lot of people. It was a good move from FNC to discuss it."

He said he benefitted from using BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook "and all social media".

Mr bin Ghalita said that as members raised more issues that affected Emiratis on a daily basis, more residents would feel they could seek help.

In March, a group of medical interns at the Ministry of Health sought FNC help.

Members met them and the Minister of Health, and successfully brokered a deal in which the interns would be paid.

"It was good. They supported us all the way - contacted us, took information from us," said Dr Tariq A, a medical intern from Dubai. "Through Twitter we found the members quickly. It definitely was much easier to contact them."

Dr Tariq said although he had assumed the FNC's power was "limited", he was impressed, particularly as the members were more active than in previous councils.

"They are reaching out to people and discussing issues that concerns all Emiratis," he said.

Hassan Al Mirri, who was eligible to vote in the last election and is a member of Al Wasl Club council, said the work of the current FNC was an improvement.

"Now they are talking about all problems Emiratis are going through daily," Mr Al Mirri said. "Before they would start and finish without people knowing what they did."

He said the issues discussed by the FNC - such as unemployment benefits, social security and caring for children of Emirati mothers - were often a topic of discussion at his family majlis.

Members said they would continue to use social media and would request offices in each emirate as a place to meet Emiratis near their homes.

"There is no place to meet Emiratis except out on the street," said Musabah Al Ketbi (Sharjah).

"We are in desperate need of offices because we are open to the public and speak to everyone who wants to talk to us."

The appeals and complaints committee has also said it is working on establishing a hotline for Emiratis to file complaints.