Political growth lies in action

Khaled al Falasi says FNC members must keep close ties with constituents to address their needs - as well as show the will to create a strong body to strengthen the state.

Khaled al Falasi has been a public servant for 23 years, but it was fewer than four years ago that he feels he added "depth" to his political experience. That was when he became a member of the FNC. "The council made me eager to be more involved in politics," said Mr al Falasi. "Before that, all I had was knowledge based on reading, but now my knowledge is linked to action. Being in the council added depth to the way I handle issues."

He is one of eight Dubai members of the advisory body, and was the first of the 1,520 selected Dubai citizens to cast the red ballot in the nation's first elections in 2006. Although he has kept his day job at Dubai Municipality, Mr al Falasi is one of the most active members of the 40-member council. Last year, he chaired a committee that examined the fishing industry, warning in a report that fish stocks were dwindling. The committee visited fishing co-operatives in the seven emirates, and found that fishermen in the Northern Emirates had suffered a spate of attacks by the Iranian navy and by pirates.

"I am happy with myself because I am trying to fulfil my responsibilities," he said. "I've adopted a lot of subjects and asked many questions. I think I participated actively." But Mr al Falasi is not convinced all his fellow members are as assiduous. "I am not completely happy with the council anymore," he said. "I was happy the first year though.There is no serious intentions about having a strong council that contributes to building the state."

He blames both the Government and the council members. "What I am hoping for is more co-operation among members themselves and between them and the Government in order to come out with a distinguished parliamentary experience." Mr al Falasi believes that members of the FNC should be in close touch with their constituencies, not only to be familiar with their issues at large, but also to help them individually if possible.

He said one encounter that touched him the most was with a female student at the Higher Colleges of Technology who told him that after losing her father her family could afford only two meals a day. Although he helped her personally and got her several charities to look at her case, he was disappointed to find that there was no government body that could help her. "Unfortunately, the Government does not have sufficient social service programmes," he said.