Emirati elderly proud to participate in the UAE’s development through voting

Despite far-reaching technological changes in their lives, older Emiratis could not contain their delight at voting in an election for the first time.
A senior citizen being helped at the polling station in Al Ain. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National
A senior citizen being helped at the polling station in Al Ain. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National

Senior citizens have had a front-row seat to watch the rapid development of the UAE. From a simple and honourable Bedouin life, the country has been transformed before their eyes into a glittering and gleaming 21st century powerhouse.

Yet, despite far-reaching technological changes in their lives, older Emiratis could not contain their delight in voting in an election for the first time.

In Al Ain, Hidaya Sultan, who believes she was over 70 years of age, said she was happy to share in the landmark FNC election, to be able to vote for her cousin’s daughter.

“She [Mouza Al Kitbi] is an engineer, a clever one, and benefits people,” said Mrs Sultan as she was being taken through the voting area in her wheelchair.

“She is a woman also, so why wouldn’t I vote for her?”

Khalfan Al Dhaheri, also “in his 70s”, stood up from his wheelchair to lean on a cane. He then voted for his cousin, hoping “to get a government job” if he won.

He said his cousin was proposing more jobs for the retired, and he wanted to continue working.

Mr Al Dhaheri and his son, Ali, 29, shared in the experience of voting for the first time. Their names were not selected in the past two elections.

Ali said another reason they voted for their tribe’s candidate was that he offered realistic manifesto pledges.

“There is one candidate who proposed undoable things, like getting rid of spinsterhood. Even countries can’t do that,” said Mr Dhaheri senior.

“Not to mention the unrealistic solution he proposed – to marry a second, third and fourth wife.”

Mouza Al Niyadi, 58, and her daughter Ayesha Al Dhaheri, 37, were also first-time voters and had picked candidate Mansour Al Dhaheri because of his electoral pledges.

“He is calling for Emiratisation of Islamic studies teachers, which is very important,” Mrs Al Dhaheri said.

“Religion is a sensitive subject and we cannot have people from abroad teaching it – maybe they have different agendas.”

Groups of young men laid out straw blankets on the grass outside Al Khabisi Wedding Hall at Al Ain Convention Centre, and waited beside the fountain.

“The Government offered us a chance for our voice to be heard so we should show concern. We will wait here until the results come out,” said Mohammed Al Shamsi, 35.

hdajani@thenational.ae

Published: October 3, 2015 04:00 AM

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