UAE News Today : Politics

‘Good turnout’ as early voting begins in UAE’s first hybrid Federal National Council elections

Dubai: Despite the ability to cast their vote online from anywhere in the world, several Emirati citizens flocked to polling centers on Wednesday to physically vote for their favorite candidates in the first hybrid form of the Federal National Council election ( FNC) from the UAE. .

As early voting began on Wednesday morning, seniors, people of determination and citizens of different ages and walks of life visited nine main polling stations in the country to participate in the electoral process for the parliamentary body of the United Arab Emirates.

At the main polling station at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC), voter Mohammed Abdulrahman Rais, 69, said he had voted three times in the FNC elections and missed it once due to travel. “I’m excited to vote again,” he told Gulf News.

Voters at DWTC
Image Credit: Ahmed Alotbi/Gulf News

The senior government official praised the elaborate facilities arranged to offer a seamless voting experience to UAE citizens.

Mohamed Abdulrahman Rais

“We were assigned a special parking space. “There were buggies that took us from the parking lot to the entrance of the shopping center.”

Emirati volunteers guided voters to the polling booth set up at Al Multaqa Hall at DWTC. After security clearance, voters were also guided inside the polling booth.

“I couldn’t register online. Then I handed in my national identity card at the polling station. They recorded my details and printed a piece of paper with a QR code.

I had to take him to the voting machine, which is like a kiosk. After scanning the QR code, my name appeared on the screen and I could proceed to select the number of my preferred candidate.”

The entire procedure took less than three minutes, he said.

Volunteers were also seen recording voter comments.

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Ibrahim Al Balooshi after casting his vote at DWTC
Image Credit: Ahmed Alotbi/Gulf News

‘Citizens’ Carnival’

Abdulla Al Shamsi

Abdulla Al Shamsi, another government employee, said: “I have voted all four times before. This is for the country that we are doing it. It is a special carnival for UAE citizens. I don’t think it’s fun to vote online. It’s nice to come here and see how everything has been organized. I wanted to see the candidates and voters. “You can’t experience all that while voting online.”

Fatima Mohammed Saeed, 75, was one of the older citizens who came to exercise their right to vote even in a wheelchair. She was accompanied by her children. Her son, Ahmed Khalifa, said her mother was happy to have the opportunity to participate in the voting procedure.

Fatima Mohammed Saeed-1696431335781

Fatima Mohammed Saeed after voting at DWTC
Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

“He has a back problem and that’s why he needs a wheelchair to go out. I could have used the online feature. But she still wanted to come with us and vote at the polls,” she explained.

The voice of the people

Shehab Gargash, managing director and group CEO of Gargash Group, was among the Emirati businessmen who took the time to visit polling stations to cast their votes.

“I’ve been voting all the time. Each time I continue to be impressed by how easy and organized the procedures are,” she said.

Shehab Gargash

Shehab Gargash
Image Credit: Ahmed Alotbi/Gulf News

He highlighted the importance of voting, saying that it is a national duty to elect FNC members who are the voice of the people.

“The voice of the people needs a method to reach the authorities and I believe that the FNC is an effective way to get our voice to the authorities. “We have seen FNC members playing exactly that role and we look forward to very capable candidates continuing to represent our voice to the government.”

first time voter

Omar Mohammed Abdulla

Representing the young voters was Omar Mohammed Abdulla. Abdulla, a finance and accounting student at the University of Dubai, cast his vote for the first time.

“I am very excited because it is the first time I vote in the FNC. “I feel proud to do this for our country,” he stated.

He added that he was happy with the arrangements made and being able to see the election process in person.

Centers and candidates

Speaking to Gulf News, Essa Mohammed Khalifa Al Mutaiwei, chairman of the Dubai Committee for the 2023 FNC elections, said the Dubai World Trade Center is the only polling center for early voting on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“On Saturday, the main day of the elections, we will have three voting centers,” he added.

In addition to the DWTC, he said Dubai voters can cast their votes at the Hatta Hall in Hatta and the Khawaneej Majlis in Al Khawaneej on Saturday as well.

On Saturday there will be 24 main voting centers throughout the country.

Voting centers are open from 9 am to 6 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, while they will be open from 8 am to 8 pm on Saturday.

Online voting, which also began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, will continue around the clock until 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Talking about the impact of the online voting service, he said: “It is a new experience. We will know the impact at the end of the elections.

We had a good in-person turnout today. We see that it is a good response.”

Dozens of voting machines were placed in the huge room.

According to Al Mutaiwei, there are 53 candidates in Dubai. According to the National Electoral Committee (CNE), a total of 309 candidates will participate in these elections, including 128 women. Candidates are competing for 20 FNC seats allocated for this year’s elections. The federal authority consists of 40 seats and FNC members typically serve four-year terms.

The candidates took turns visiting the polling station throughout the day on Wednesday. They were assigned a designated area to observe voting procedures. However, they were not allowed to interact directly with voters. Some voters were seen greeting the candidates and wishing them good luck as they passed by.

“Good participation”

In Abu Dhabi, Saif Ali Al Qubaisi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Committee for the 2023 Federal National Council (FNC) elections, confirmed that all polling stations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain city and the region of Al Dhafra are ready. to receive voters for early voting.

All necessary supplies and preparations have been made to facilitate the voting process, he added.

In his statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of the first day of early voting in the 2023 FNC national elections, Al Qubaisi highlighted a good turnout and noted that he expects an increase in turnout in the coming period electoral.

Early voting will take place at polling stations for two days, on October 4 and 5, while remote voting will last from October 4 to 7.

Polling stations in Abu Dhabi are located in nine centres, which are Abu Dhabi Energy Centre, Zayed University, Al Hawashim Town Hall, Zayed City Wedding Hall, Giyathi Wedding Hall, Hall Al Sila Wedding Hall, Al Ain Conference Centre, Al Qaqn Wedding Hall and Al Hair Wedding Hall.

Important dates

The FNC elections represent a milestone in the UAE’s efforts to improve political participation and enable citizens to actively contribute to the national decision-making process.

This year, the electoral process began with the opening of candidate nominations on August 7. Candidates were able to register for the elections from August 15 to 18. Preliminary results will be announced on October 7. The electoral process will culminate with the announcement of the final list of winners on October 13.

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