ABU DHABI // The only woman elected to the Federal National Council in 2011, Dr Sheikha Al Ari had not planned to nominate herself for the position. But people in the community pushed her to it, she says.
“I nominated myself because the people requested that from me, and I wasn’t thinking about it. It was not on my mind.
“But when the people said I could represent them, I thought to myself ‘Why not try?’.
“After seeing how the people were asking me to nominate [myself], and were encouraging, it was a great motivation,” she says.
Her campaigns and advertisements were not long, and she did not explicitly ask for people’s votes, she says.
“I didn’t do all that because my campaign began 25 years ago in my educational journey. I have dedication for work and love for the people. They have seen me and tried me. My journey in education gave them the ability to decide.”
Dr Al Ari was the principal of Al Abraq School for girls in Umm Al Quwain for many years before resigning to join the council.
She says she was not surprised when she saw she had won.
“Would you believe me? Honestly, I wasn’t shocked. I knew my name would be there. I even have a picture of me looking at the screen and I looked confident,” she says, laughing.
Because she credits the people who surround her for her success in the FNC, Dr Al Ari has made it her motto “to be a medium of communication within the council”.
“I didn’t tell people I will do this and that. My goal was to be a communications channel with the decision-makers. We are in a nation where the [FNC] members are partners with the decision-makers, and we are all seeking for the nation’s love and happiness.
“We just need to help those who need it, to tell the decision-makers this person needs this thing done. As a member of the council, you have to have a good relationship with them, to share their occasional ceremonies, and I am always available. I don’t like saying no. This way I am participating and if I am with them, they will be with me and with the people.”
She says being part of the council means taking part in discussions on legislations and amending laws, but it does not have the power to provide the community with new decisions. However, she still tries to communicate with the leaders regarding the people’s needs.
“I say, Alhamdullilah it is enough for me to seek people’s needs. Even if we don’t get results, we have communicated and we have tried.”
She says she discusses issues that “affect the citizens and their needs”, not only topics that she is interested in.
“There were no topics that did not serve a purpose to benefit the people. I have discussed issues like traffic safety, educational affairs including teachers’ circumstances and [salary] raises, electricity and the lack of it, scientific research – everything that affects the citizens and we can have a hand in. If I only speak of what I like we will get nowhere.”
Dr Al Ari praises the Minister of Health, Abdulrahman Al Owais, for his help in issues the council has tackled.
“He is one of the people who helped me in creating the essence of my motto to be a link between the decision-makers and the people.”
She says her contact information remains available to all and unchanged for better communication with the community.
Overall, Dr Al Ari says she is proud of all her accomplishments.
She is also the only woman from the UAE to participate in the rab Parliament.