DUBAI // Ardent supporters, FNC candidates themselves and their families were out in force as the polls opened in Dubai for early FNC voting.
Candidate Ahmed bin Safea’s election campaign focused on education, Emiratisation and the long-term care and benefits for the elderly. He accompanied his wheelchair-bound mother, who is in her seventies, to vote.
“She insisted on being here to vote. She has an appointment tomorrow and today was the most convenient time for us,” Mr bin Shafea said.
His mother was not the only elderly voter at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, several senior citizens in wheelchairs made their way around the narrow metal detectors, many of them there to avoid the rush on election day next month.
Another voter keen to avoid queues was 33-year-old Hessa Mohsen. “It’s always good to come on the first day and avoid the long lines,” she said.
“The hall was huge, there are numerous screens – it seems the place is equipped to handle large crowds.
“It’s not your usual government transaction; this one felt special. I am here voluntarily to be part of this great political empowerment, which I believe can make a lot of good changes in our lives, reflecting the people’s concerns and hopes for the future.”
Ms Mohsen hoped that more people would cast their votes between now and the end of early voting at 6pm on Wednesday, as well as on election day itself, October 3. She also wanted to see elected FNC candidates follow through on their pledges when they are seated in the advisory legislative council.
Adding to the celebratory feel, candidates could be seen hugging and high-fiving supporters at the exit.
Merchant Andaleeb Mohamed, 50, has a politically active family and is a loyal voter, nominating the same candidate he supported in 2011 elections.
“I don’t have a close relationship with my selected candidate but I know that he’s a passionate, hard worker who will do a stellar job if elected again,” said Mr Mohamed, whose two children, also eligible to vote, cast their ballots later in the day.
“I encouraged my sons to come vote. It was a family decision and we’re all backing the same candidate, who we think is best suited for the job.”
Voters who spoke to The National also expressed how pleased they were with the efficient process. "The voting process this time around is so much better than it was in 2011. The whole process took me two minutes," Mr Mohamed said.
To enter the voting centre, people had to show their Emirates ID before going through the metal detectors.
Inside, voters were welcomed by volunteers, who were quick to explain the process to them in the dimly lit hall that had images of the UAE leaders projected on to the walls and large, decorative UAE flags hung from the ceiling.
“The place had a calming effect,” said Ayesha Mohamed Al Kash. “The silence combined with the light and colours has a special effect on you. I didn’t expect it to be executed this way.”
Near the entrance is a training area with a projection screen explaining the voting process, but volunteers were also there to explain on a one-on-one basis.
After the training, voters headed to a committee that checked to see if their name was among the 224,000 eligible voters. Their Emirates ID was then activated and they could proceed to the voting machines, where they had 30 minutes to make their selection. While casting their ballot electronically, voters were not allowed to use their mobile phones. Photography is strictly prohibited in the voting centre.