x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fujairah: more than a third at polls

More than a third of those eligible to vote in the emirate went to the polls with the two seats going to Ghareeb Al Saridi and Sultan Al Sammahi.

Rashid Salem, Fujairah's first voter, casts his vote at the polling station at the Fujairah Exhibition Centre.
Rashid Salem, Fujairah's first voter, casts his vote at the polling station at the Fujairah Exhibition Centre.

FUJAIRAH // More than a third of those eligible to vote in the emirate went to the polls yesterday with the two seats going to Ghareeb Al Saridi and Sultan Al Sammahi.

Besides the computerised ballots, there were printed copies of the results from 2,167 voters of a possible 6,324 that could be counted manually in case of a problem.

None of the women made it to the top five, with sixth place going to Aisha Khamis who received 353 votes.Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammad, Ruler of Fujairah, visited Fujairah Exhibition Centre at 5pm and wished the 20 candidates the best of luck.

“It would be nice if all 20 could win,” he said, “but there are only two seats.” He reminded them to remain courteous and show “great sportsmanship”. The candidates vowed they would.

There were 28 IT specialists on standby, one for each voting booth, as well as a line of female staff to assist voters, including those with special needs or others who were having difficulty with the steps.

Voting started at exactly 8am, as one of the election officials yelled: “Now.”

In unison, four of the 20 candidates hit the voting booths.Ahmed bin Khatem, 33, was one of the four. “It has been a fun but nerve-racking ride,” he said. “History was made today.

”The candidates spent much of the time joking around. From time to time several would all wave at the same voter, and much energy was expended on discussion of ways to bring in tea and coffee to keep them “fresh”.

“I know most of the candidates,” said Ali Eissa, 35, a voter who greeted candidates as he left the polling station. In return, six of the hopefuls said: “Thank you for voting.”

“I actually ended up picking a female candidate I don’t know personally,” he said. “I felt it took real guts for a woman to put forth her candidacy in an emirate like Fujairah that is very male-dominated.”

“I had to come, it is my duty to come and vote,” said Sheikha Al Mesmari, 33, a radio personality.

“I didn’t vote for any of the women,” he said. “I felt none of them were strong candidates and their campaigns didn’t seem focused or realistic enough for me.”

Umm Abdullah Al Thanhani came with her three-year-old son. “I wanted him to see what elections are all about,” said the teacher, who was voting for the first time. “It is so organised and high-tech, a real example for the rest of the Arab world and beyond.

”The committee overseeing the election hailed the day a “great success”, with no major issues, apart from some voters who showed up with damaged or expired identity cards. A few others turned up despite not being eligible to vote.

rghazal@thenationalae