2006: the year the people had their say

No decision in the council's history has been more significant than that of Sheikh Khalifa, the President, in 2006 to open half of the seats to election, bestowing new powers on its members.

While previously all 40 council members had been appointed by the Rulers, Sheikh Khalifa declared that henceforth half would be elected, albeit by an electorate of 6,595 Emiratis. That number has since greatly expanded and is expected to do so again at the next election.

He also ruled that women would be allowed to sit in the FNC.

Members were told they would be given new powers, such as the right to debate international treaties.

But there was still a widespread lack of understanding, even among those allowed to vote, of the council's purpose.

"We didn't really know what the FNC was or what it meant to be on the list," said MS, a 2006 voter.

Six years later that problem persists, says Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs.

Dr Gargash spent months in the run-up to last September's second set of elections touring the country, trying to set straight misconceptions about the council.

These included a belief by some that as they were on the electoral roll, they had a seat on the FNC.

But as word spread of the council's achievements, and its power to keep check on the Government and question ministers, being a member became more appealing.

In 2006, 456 Emiratis put their names forward as candidates for the 20 elected seats.

And after weeks of campaigning, on December 16, 18 and 20, the voters delivered their verdict and elected 19 men and one woman - Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, from Abu Dhabi.

Dr Al Qubaisi was joined by eight other female members appointed by the Rulers of the emirates.

Their numbers won praise from the UN, which in 2009 rated the UAE as one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of female political participation.

That was lifted further last year, with the number of female electors raised from 1,162 in 2006 to 59,000, 46 per cent of the total.

Of them, 85 women stood, but again only one won. And it was widely suggested that women's greater enfranchisement had contributed to the low turnout, which fell from 74 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent.

Dr Gargash said he had expected better. The whole process needed to be "read thoroughly", he said.

The sole winning woman, Sheikha Eisa Ghanem of Umm Al Qaiwain, was joined by six appointed female members, including Dr Al Qubaisi, now the FNC's deputy speaker.

'Cheb Khaled'

Artist: Khaled
Label: Believe
Rating: 4/5


This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Haircare resolutions 2021

From Beirut and Amman to London and now Dubai, hairstylist George Massoud has seen the same mistakes made by customers all over the world. In the chair or at-home hair care, here are the resolutions he wishes his customers would make for the year ahead.

1. 'I will seek consultation from professionals'

You may know what you want, but are you sure it’s going to suit you? Haircare professionals can tell you what will work best with your skin tone, hair texture and lifestyle.

2. 'I will tell my hairdresser when I’m not happy'

Massoud says it’s better to offer constructive criticism to work on in the future. Your hairdresser will learn, and you may discover how to communicate exactly what you want more effectively the next time.

3. ‘I will treat my hair better out of the chair’

Damage control is a big part of most hairstylists’ work right now, but it can be avoided. Steer clear of over-colouring at home, try and pursue one hair brand at a time and never, ever use a straightener on still drying hair, pleads Massoud.


Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

The five pillars of Islam

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