Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Emirati voters seek FNC members capable of 'problem-solving and negotiation'

With hundreds of candidates running for a seat, voters say they are filtering through all the campaign policies to find a nominee who suits them

Voters at the polling machines for the 2015 Federal National Council election in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson / The National
Voters at the polling machines for the 2015 Federal National Council election in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson / The National

Emiratis want strong Federal National Council members who are willing to solve problems.

Speaking as candidates across the country roll out their campaigns and present their policy statements, many Emiratis said they were still undecided about who to vote for.

They said greater support for the elderly, people with disabilities and young people were among the top issues they would like to see represented in the council.

Sheikha Ali, an Emirati who works in media, said she has been carefully researching the candidates in her emirate of Abu Dhabi.

“As of now, I am not sure who to vote for,” she said.

Ms Ali, 28, said the emirate was in need of a strong candidate to present youth issues at the advisory council and push for more development programmes that help make young people more employable.

She said she was looking for someone “who is willing to go the extra mile, dig deep into current issues and provide areas for them to improve on a social and professional level.

“Also there should be more focus on keeping the youth busy with knowledge and education and providing areas for them to improve,” she said.

She suggested discounted professional training programmes for young people and pushing private companies to run internship programmes as ways of supporting the development of fresh graduates seeking to start their careers.

Similarly, she said senior Emiratis needed greater support from the government. She listed increasing pensions, UAE-wide discounts and building more recreational centres to create social spaces for the elderly as issues she was looking for in a candidate’s policy statement.

Voters in the Northern Emirates said an ideal candidate should be very familiar with their concerns and be a “problem-solver, negotiator and hard worker”.

“It is not easy to be the one who represents the people,” said Abdullah Al Mazroui, a 42-year-old Emirati farmer from Al Ghail in Ras Al Khaimah.

“Our town is a rural area and we need many things such as nurseries, girl’s schools, paved roads and parks for the women and children to go to,” he said.

“We need a person who can solve our problems and hear our concerns. It should not be that difficult to find one as some of the candidates' electoral programmes look promising and I hope they will keep on the same pace even after winning the FNC chair.”

Mr Al Mazroui said he would vote for a candidate who focused on farmers' needs and solutions for water scarcity, and pushed for more government financial support for agriculture.

“We struggle with [a lack of] water and we need more financial support. Many farmers abandoned their farms due to the water issue and we need someone who can highlight this problem and find us a solution,” he said.

Another Emirati from Ras Al Khaimah said he would vote for an experienced candidate that was ready to invest time and energy to support locals.

“We need a strong candidate to stand by our side and keep pushing for solutions to issues related to retired people and their low salaries,” said Saeed Al Dhahuoori, 55.

Mr Al Dhahuoori, from Wadi Shaam, said his ideal candidate would push for infrastructure upgrades needed in many areas of his town and advocate the cancellation of mixed-gender classrooms at schools.

“We also need the candidate to push for the construction of a dam near our village as the area flood each time it rains," said Mr Al Dhahuoori.

Ali Al Murshidi, a 30-year-old Emirati, said he would like to see more candidates address issues that affect people with disabilities.

“Until now I have only seen one candidate who is concerned with our issues [in Fujairah] but I wish to see more,” said Mr Al Murshidi, from Dibba Al Fujairah.

“We need someone to talk about our allowances and request an increase, talk about discounts and free services to be provided to us and most importantly to talk about the lack of jobs,” he said.

“Our country is supporting us all the time and we appreciate it always but we need FNC members to also know about our concerns and highlight them.”

Updated: September 18, 2019 02:17 PM

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