ABU DHABI // Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was on Wednesday appointed President of the Federal National Council, making her the region’s first female leader of a national assembly.
“I am proud to take this seat for the first time as a woman in the Arab world,” she said, after winning the role of President and Speaker unopposed.
“I dedicate this achievement to the great women of the UAE, and to the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.”
The inauguration of the 16th FNC was led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who stressed to members the importance of serving the country’s citizens.
“Today your service to the UAE people has become a responsibility,” he said. “It is an obligation in front of Allah and the people of the UAE. Brothers and sisters, your council is held today and our country has become stronger, and our people more intertwined with their leaders.”
Also at the inauguration were emirates’ Rulers and Crown Princes, senior Cabinet members and the ambassadors of 80 countries.
Dr Al Qubaisi, who in 2006 became the first woman elected to the FNC, said the council had a great role to play in ensuring the UAE was competitive.
She also spoke of the Emirati soldiers fighting in Yemen as part of the Arab coalition in Operation Restoring Hope.
“We have to compete, in our nation, with the best nations out there,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.
“These are great responsibilities and we must put in our all to ensure the strengthening of our country, and the investment of all our expertise to look at developing the political role.
“Fellow members, with every great challenge we become better equipped, especially when it comes to our soldiers fighting in Yemen, and we raise our heads high in pride of them.
“We are under political responsibility, so I ask you to represent the UAE and its vision, and to continue to allow the UAE to thrive.”
The challenge of members, she said, was to “represent all Emiratis, those who voted and those who didn’t. I wish, with you, we can reach the whole emirates, to listen to them and become a part of their lives”.
Dr Al Qubaisi ended her speech by thanking those who had stood by her through her journey.
Emirati women applauded her appointment. Fatima Al Dhaheri, 30, an investment professional at a government institution, said she was not surprised that Dr Al Qubaisi was appointed the region’s first female leader of a national assembly .
“For us in the UAE, it is not unusual for a well-established Emirati woman to fill a major role in the Government,” Ms Al Dhaheri said. “We are used to the UAE being the first in many spheres.”
She hoped the move would inspire other women. “This landmark appointment will definitely open more doors for women to be speakers and have a bigger role in the council.”
Eman bin Chaibah, 30, said Dr Al Qubaisi’s election was a “historical moment for women’s empowerment in the country”.
“I think the win can humanise many of the FNC decisions and start pushing them in new direction that will benefit the community as a whole, as that is women’s nature in always looking out for everyone,” she said. It’s inspiring for women all around the community and it’s a proof that UAE walks the talk when it comes to women’s empowerment.”
Present for yesterday’s inauguration were Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah; Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman; Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Ruler of Fujairah; Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla, Ruler of Umm Al Quwain; and Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
Also there were Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai; Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance; Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah; Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah; and Sheikh Rashid bin Saud Al Mualla, Crown Prince of UAQ.
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of interior attended, as did Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, National Security Adviser, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi biography:
ABU DHABI // In 2006, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was the first woman elected to the Federal National Council. Now, she is the first chairwoman of the body.
In 2006, Dr Al Qubaisi was an architect and architecture teacher at UAE University.
She said of her election then: “I owe my success to my deep belief in Allah the Almighty, to the support I received from members of the electoral colleges in Abu Dhabi and to the sincere and realistic promises I gave during my campaign.”
She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from UAE University, and a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Sheffield in the UK.
Dr Al Qubaisi has also worked with Unesco on conservation projects. In 2011 she was chosen as first deputy speaker of the FNC and became the first woman to chair a council session. She won an Abu Dhabi Award in 2008 and last year was appointed director general of Abu Dhabi Education Council.