FUJAIRAH // From the young to the very old, able-bodied or otherwise, eligible voters in the northernmost emirate turned out in force on Saturday for the Federal National Council (FNC) elections.
As the sound of Emirati folk music was played in an area containing 32 voting booths, Khalifa Hamdan, an Armed Forces soldier, arrived in a wheelchair to cast his ballot. Last month, Mr Hamdan was injured in Yemen, fighting as part of the Saudi-led Operation Restoring Hope. In an attack 52 of his countrymen perished.
The Armed Forces were also represented by 90-year-old veteran Salem Al Rammas. “Participating in this event is like celebrating democracy, and we should all take part and stand by the country and help in choosing the right person for the right place,” he said.
Despite a slow start in voter turnout, by 10am, according to Brig Mohammed Al Kaabi, chairman of Fujairah Elections Committee, it was a different story.
Voting in each of the emirate’s three centres – Fujairah city, Dibba and Masafi – was problem-free. Only two ballots were rejected as the voters were ineligible.
At the emirate’s main election centre, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, turned up to inspect the voting.
The large turnout, he said, demonstrated people’s confidence in the FNC.
Many who showed up at the centres said they had brought their children to teach them how to be an active member of society.
“I came with my son to teach him and make him understand how important our role should be in choosing the best person to represent us and target our needs and solve our issues,” said Yousef Al Bier, accompanied by his 12-year-old son, Mohammed.
“It’s also a part of our national duty,” he said. “Many residents should do the same and teach their children how to support the country and take part in developing the future.”
Volunteers were on the scene to help, making the process for first-time voter Ali Al Kaabi smooth and enjoyable.
“The process was fast and clear. I’m here to support my country and take part in this huge event,” said the 35-year-old from Al Bithna.
Among the prominent issues voters hoped would be addressed by the new council was healthcare.
“The candidate that I support is a person who will work on issues that concern the rural parts of the emirate and will discuss healthcare issues and developments in many fields, such as infrastructure and youth centres,” Mr Al Kaabi said.
Sheikha Al Yamahi, 35, said voting was something that required careful consideration from everyone.
“I encourage everyone to vote for the person they see as best for the position. I voted for one who will target the lack of employment in the area and the healthcare facilities.”