Occupying one of the top positions in the Arab media industry is not enough for the trailblazer Najla Faisal al Awadhi, who is also the youngest member of the FNC. Mahmoud Habboush reports Najla Faisal al Awadhi was just 29 when she was appointed to the FNC. Now 33, she is still the youngest member of the 40-seat federal advisory body. As the chief executive officer of Dubai Media Incorporated Channels, a government-owned media group operating four free-to-air satellite channels, Ms al Awadhi has one of the top executive positions in the Arab media industry.
She was the first woman in the Gulf to occupy such a position and the first Emirati woman to launch and head a free-to-air satellite TV channel. When asked how she manages to juggle her work with her FNC responsibilities, she said: "It's all about time and task management. I respect time, I believe in scheduling everything I need to get done, so I ensure that I'm on top of all my responsibilities.
"Also, it is about loving your job; public service and the pursuit of social justice is my life's passion." She said that being a member of the FNC has given her an insight into "the mechanisms of how our federal and local institutions are working" and into their "strengths and challenges". "It has made me even more driven to think of innovative and practical ways to address the complex and persistent issues that face our societies in our sustainable development agendas."
Ms al Awadhi supports granting the council "full legislative authority". For it to be an effective body, she argues, its members should enjoy a degree of "awareness and vibrancy". "Certainly we aspire to a day when the FNC will be a true legislative body and that will happen gradually and without a doubt," she said. She added that it was important for Emiratis to be "formally educated from a young age about civic duty, which essentially builds future parliamentarians [and] is also pertinent to making the FNC more effective".
Despite the frustration of some council members who feel their work is ineffective, Ms al Awadhi admires the fact that the council serves as a public forum for citizens to debate issues and pass recommendations to the Government. "My aspirations have always been to be in public service," she said. "So, being able to work with seasoned parliamentarians, being able to study legislation and make recommendations to improve them, and being able to study and debate issues that are central to the development agenda of our society has been an invaluable experience for me."