Dubai : People make their votes do the talking

Proud voters from across the country were out in large numbers on Saturday morning as the Federal National Council (FNC) elections got underway. The first voters started trickling in well before the start of the polling as candidates were first to vote.

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Published: Sun 25 Sep 2011, 10:12 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:57 AM

People from all walks of life, including men and women, started coming in large numbers as the day progressed with several thousand people completing the voting by the afternoon itself.

Khalid Al Marri was among the first voters waiting outside the polling centre in Dubai World Trade Centre.

‘I am proud to be a part of the nation-building process and I had been waiting since a very long time for this day to come. This was the only thing missing in an Emirati’s life,’ said Khalid.

He was clear with his choice of candidates as he carried a slip with the number of his choice of candidates.

‘The success of the next elections will depend on the people we select to carry out the national duty. That’s why I spent a lot of time in deciding whom to vote for,’ said Khalid.

With more than 100,000 people selected to vote, the FNC elections are the largest in the history of the country. Eager to make their voices heard, a large number of young voters were seen crowding near the centres.

Hamed Saif Belmahaina had come along with his father to vote for his choice of candidates. He expressed that the elections made people feel ‘a part of the political process.’

‘This is a lot of excitement and we are very happy to vote. Seeing so many Emiratis together makes me feel united as we achieve a national goal with our right to vote,’ said Hamed.

Fahad Abdul Rahim, another voter who had come early to participate in the voting was visibly happy with the experience. ‘It was very well organised and there was no confusion. It hardly took five minutes as we selected our candidates with ease,’ said Fahad.

A first time voter, Fahad praised the visionary leadership of the UAE in making more people a part of the Electoral College. ‘This is a great initiative and the whole purpose is to provide a voice to the Emirati people and build a bridge between the people and the government,’ added Fahad.

Voters were briefed shortly before entering the polling centre. Volunteers guided the voters to the voting machines as the candidates’ names appeared alongside their photographs on the machine.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai visited the polling centre in Dubai World Trade Centre where he met with candidates and voters.

The first vote counts

At 8.07am, Rashad Mohammed Bukhash became the first citizen and candidate to cast his vote in the Federal National Council elections. An employee of Dubai Municipality, Rashad was quick to also choose his candidates as he registered his vote at the polling centre in Dubai World Trade Centre.

“I came early because I wanted to be among the first voters. It is a historic day, and I am proud to be a part of this national exercise,” said Rashad who heads the Architectural Heritage Department at Dubai Municipality.Excited on the prospect of being a participant in the election, Rashad is also vying for votes from others as a candidate in the FNC elections.

“No one knows who will win these elections, but we know that the people are here to place their trust in us. It is going to be a big responsibility for me if I win in these elections,” added Rashad.

“My experience as someone with expertise in public service will count. I have also met a lot of people during my campaign and the number of people coming to vote is increasing by the hour which is a positive sign,” said Rashad.- muaz@khaleejtimes.com

Women make their presence felt

Shafaat Ahmed

DUBAI — Every step that the old Bedouin great grandmother, Leila (name changed), took towards the polling station at Airport Expo made history, and it was visible in her measured strides that she was aware of the era she was ushering in.

Accompanied by her entire family, which included her daughters, sons and grandchildren, the octogenarian took her time soaking in the moment and made her decisions, in full knowledge that her mere push of a button on the machine is going to change the course of Emirati history.

From old men and women like Leila to the cream of the society, the halls of the Airport Expo Dubai as well as the World Trade Centre were teeming with Emiratis. It was a moment that really moved everybody around.

But the day really belonged not to the candidates or the officials or the elite of the society; it belonged to the Emirati youth, particularly the female folks.

Set your eyes wherever, the youth brigade made their presence felt with their cheerfulness, energy and awareness.

No, they were not there just to enjoy the moment and celebrate the occasion. They knew the value of the action they were going to take or had just taken and they were proud of it.

From education and healthcare to water and environment, the youngsters seemed thoroughly aware of the issues that mattered most. But it was women empowerment and family security that seemed to bother most of the women, either young or old.

Huddled in a group of her friends near a coffee shop outside the polling station was Hassa Al Ahli. She was waiting for her other friends to come before going inside to vote but at the same time she was busy in last-minute discussions about the candidates.

“There are so many of them who are making rosy promises, but can they all deliver on them? That is the question we are asking ourselves. We want to make sure we don’t make a wrong choice and our votes are wasted,” she said talking to Khaleej Times, visibly serious about carrying out the responsibility she has on her shoulders.

Hassa, like her friends Khulood and Amna, has made thorough background checks on the candidates they have zeroed in on in order to make sure the candidate is genuine. “I used Twitter and social media to find out about candidates and then checked their websites to know their agenda. Then tried to discuss these candidates with my friends and relatives and find out more about them and also spoke with some of the candidates and their family members. Only then I was convinced about the right candidates to vote,” added Hassa, detailing her tough selection process.

Young Ghaneem Al Turki is no different in her thorough selection process but her issues are different. All she cares about is women empowerment and she has made up her mind that only one candidate can deliver on that promise.

“I am going to vote for Aisha Abdurrehman, I know what she has already done for women and what she can do when she would be part of the FNC so for me, she is the only candidate,” said the bubbly Aisha. When reminded there are three other candidates she has to vote for, she didn’t seem to care much, insisting “Aisha is my candidate”.

But her friend Fatima (name changed), who was struggling to hide her excitement, clarified that they are all prepared and decided on all four candidates based on the issues they discussed but mostly they are bothered about women empowerment.

“Women are already very successful in our country but we feel more could be done and we have chosen all four candidates based on their promises surrounding women and family,” Amna clarified.

With all the talk with and about women, one could be under the impression that it was just a female affair. Of course, not. There were young and old men who were equally resourceful and excited.

Whatever be the issues and whoever are the candidates, the Emiratis, particularly the youngsters, are the winners as they make a strong statement by making their presence felt when and where it mattered.

shafaat@khaleejtimes.com


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