Federal National Council gets its first female Speaker

Dr Amal Al Qubais will sit as Speaker of the Federal National Council for the first time in the UAE tomorrow.

ABU DHABI // A woman will sit as Speaker of the Federal National Council for the first time tomorrow.

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was appointed deputy speaker in 2011 - the first time in the GCC a woman had held such a position.

FNC Speaker Mohammed Al Murr (Dubai) will be in Sudan tomorrow for a parliamentary meeting, meaning Mrs Al Qubaisi, who has been a member of the FNC since 2006, will fill his shoes.

During the session, ministers will be quizzed by three council members.

Dr Hadef Al Dhaheri, Minister of Justice, will be questioned about the failure to set up a dispute resolution panel in Al Dhaid.

A 2001 law requires all courts to have such a panel, but Al Dhaid still does not.

"All other courts have them, so why not this one?" Musabah Al Ketbi (Sharjah) will ask.

He said the absence of such a panel led to heavier workload for the courts. Instead of cases being dealt with outside the courtroom quickly, people involved in court actions either have to go through a lengthy court procedure or make the long journey to Sharjah.

Dr Al Dhaheri was scheduled to attend the last FNC session on January 8 but could not because of a prior engagement. He is expected to attend in person tomorrow.

Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, and Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, Minister of Health, will also attend.

Ahmed Al Shamsi (Ajman) will quiz the latter over the lack of federal regulation of medicines.

He asked a similar question last year about food and medication but was asked then to separate it into two parts because the issues fell under the remit of different ministries.

"The question will be about creating a federal body for medication control," Mr Al Shamsi said. "This is important since a similar federal body is established in many countries. Medications need to be well monitored."

He said the question aimed to open a discussion about regulation across the country as a whole, not just in individual emirates.

Mr Al Owais, also Chairman of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, will be asked by Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman) about promoting tourism to Emiratis.

He will cite numerous complaints about hotels being more expensive when booked from within the UAE, and air tickets originating from here being more expensive than those going the other way.

Mr Al Nuaimi will call on the minister and the tourism council to work with airlines to help reduce the price of flights for Emiratis, as well as encouraging hotels to offer nationals special rates.

The session, which is open to public, will start at 9am tomorrow at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi.